Old School trucks: Hilton Haulage—Part 1

By: Dean Middleton, Photography by: Dean Middleton


Hilton Haulage Part 1 The Andersons contracted this N5032 Ford on general duties with driver Dave Patterson at the helm Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 Steve Gray contracted this smart 2233 Mercedes-Benz pictured at a Timaru Truck show in the late ’80s Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 Ian Cartney and Roger Patrick Contracted this CWA45 Nissan Diesel Shogun in the early ’90s Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 ‘Southern Commitment’ was the name of contractor Stephen Black’s N4533 Ford on refrigerated duties Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 Long-time owner-driver throughout the late ’80s and ’90s, Alan ’Spratt’ Dempsey originally ran this tricked up N5036 Ford tractor unit from new Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 In 1991, Spratt replaced the N5036 with this new N4533 version. Several of the accessories were donated from the older truck. Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 The N4533 was replaced by this 4425 Foden Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 Bruce Butler ran this 2235 Mercedes-Benz out of Christchurch Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 Bruce replaced the 2235 Merc with this later model 2435 Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 The DAF brand was rare back in the early ’90s when several of these 3300 models made their way into the fleet Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 FS Hino became a popular brand of choice in the early ’90s Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 Followed later by 700 models in the 2000s Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 Hino did not have it all their way in the Japanese brands, with Mitsubishis also being a popular choice Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 The early 2000s saw many Sterlings enter the fleet Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 Many more Columbias followed; this one pictured on general flat deck duties Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 This Freightliner Argosy did not remain in the fleet for long and never received the full Hilton livery Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 2004 saw the introduction of Freightliner Columbias Hilton Haulage Part 1
Hilton Haulage Part 1 Many more Columbias followed; this one pictured on general flat deck duties Hilton Haulage Part 1

You would be hard-pressed these days to drive on a main road in the Canterbury region and not pass a Hilton Haulage unit; such is the size of the current 150-plus truck fleet

This is in stark contrast to the humble beginnings in Timaru back in 1972 when Sid McAuley and Angus Murray started the business with one flat deck truck.

When I began photographing Hilton Haulage trucks back in the mid-’80s, there were plenty of owner-operators, who, along with company-owned trucks, made for an interesting array of makes and models. One of the standouts was a classic R-Model Mack put on the road by then owner-driver Bruce Anderson. It was also interesting to see the replacement vehicles for long-term owner-operators such as Alan ‘Spratt’ Dempsey and Bruce Butler as they upgraded to later makes and models.

Back then, refrigerated transport made up a large portion of Hilton Haulage work, along with general freight and seasonal work at harvest times with peas, corn, and later potatoes being the mainstay of this work.

The refrigerated division focused on servicing the fishing industry South Island-wide, and at its peak, Hilton Haulage ran a fleet of more than 40 trucks (consisting of company-owned trucks and owner drivers) and 80-plus staff. This was until the early ’90 s when the refrigerated division was sold to Halls Transport.

In 1994, Hilton Haulage Limited was sold into a new company named Hilton Haulage Transport Limited, which was formed by a group of employees of the former company. Sid McAuley retained a shareholding and remained at the company for a further five years as the chairman of the directors.

At the time of the sale, the company operated a depot in Washdyke, Timaru and a yard in Hillsborough, Christchurch, with a total of approximately 20 staff. Rapid growth then followed with the Hino brand taking a foothold and there was a move away from the owner-driver model to mainly company trucks.

Many Mitsubishis also entered the fleet and these were followed by the Sterling brand in the early 2000s, seven of which were purchased in one order.

Freightliner Columbias then became popular in the mid-2000s. Several transport companies have been acquired over the years, with some of the purchases being Lakeland Distribution, Tapper Transport’s Christchurch-based division, and Inwood’s Transport to name a few. Next month, we look at some more of the units that Hilton have run in the 2000s to the present.

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