Huljich brothers truck collection—Part 2

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle


In part 2, Deals on Wheels' Lyndsay Whittle talks in-depth about the remaining trucks in the vintage collection proudly owned by brothers Kevin and Allan Huljich

Alt TEXT HERE
The Studebaker US6-62 looks good and sits nicely on the road

A constant source of amazement is the sheer volume of sheds and garages dotted across the country that house an unbelievable array of classic vehicles, but it seems you have to keep your eyes peeled and be prepared to go on a bit of a hunt if you want to find them.

A brief recap

Alt TEXT HERE
The contraption under the screen is a rifle holder

A chance sighting of an original D Series Ford tipper while out and about in West Auckland a couple of months ago led to an invitation being extended to one very inquisitive magazine contributor by brothers Kevin and Allan Huljich to visit their treasure trove in the Auckland suburb of Whenuapai.

The invitation to visit their immaculately-presented shed and the equally tidy eclectic collection of vehicles stored therein became the launching pad for Part One of this story, which was told in last month’s issue.

One of the perks of writing articles for magazines is that on the odd occasion, the interviewees take a giant leap of faith and offer their vehicles for a drive around the block to the person interviewing.

Alt TEXT HERE
For sale: the RLC Bedford featured last month deserves to go to a good home

Being a bit of a Bedford nut, I definitely wasn’t going to turn down an offer to take a restored RL Bedford for a spin around a few country roads. To cap that experience off, my morning’s entertainment was enhanced by the opportunity of driving another immaculate Huljich vehicle—a 1942 left-hand-drive Studebaker US6-62 6x6 troop carrier.

Alt TEXT HERE
Nick Huljich

Kevin and Allan had said earlier in the interview that their father, the late Nick Huljich, had restored both trucks in the 1980s and ’90s, paying strict attention to meticulously restoring the vehicles right down to the last correct cap and thread of each nut and bolt.

Kevin expanded on that comment by saying that if an authentic part wasn’t available at any point in time during a restoration, his dad kept searching until he found one. There simply wasn’t any corners to be cut where Nick was concerned.

However, the brothers pointed out that these two trucks formed an integral part of their father’s passion, and given that neither vehicle was getting the drivetime it should have under their stewardship, it was now time for the trucks to be moved on to enthusiasts who would actually get some real use out of them, and so both trucks are currently on the market.

Both the Bedford and the Studebaker drive well and surely will soon become a valued part of some lucky person or persons’ collection.

1942 Studebaker US6-62 6x6 troop carrier

Alt TEXT HERE
It isn’t all that fast but it drives like it’s brand-new

The Bedford’s special features and specifications were covered in DOW issue 346 in December 2021; now it’s the 6x6 Studebaker’s turn. While naturally it was the drive in the Bedford that was the highlight of my morning’s activities, it has to be said that the Studebaker drove nicely even though it’s an 80-year-old vehicle.

Having tooled around in a similar-aged left-hand-drive International fire truck for more years than I care to remember, it didn’t take me long to get in tune with the Studebaker’s weird-gated five-speed Clark gearbox and to reacquaint myself with shifting gears using the opposite arm to that which comes naturally to a Kiwi driver.

Fitted with a six-cylinder inline flathead 320 cubic inch Hercules engine, the Studebaker appeared to have a similar amount of power to the OHV International fire truck I’d driven many, many miles in.

However, it did appear to have a few extra switches and gauges to play with and eye-up than its International Harvester counterpart. Strangely, the New Zealand Army never had any Studebaker trucks operating in its fleet, probably because there was an abundance of GMCs to fulfil its requirements.

Nevertheless, the Indiana-based Studebaker Corporation wouldn’t have worried too much about missing out on sales to New Zealand, as during WWII, Studebaker built approximately 200,000 6x4 and 6x6 cargo trucks, of which, 100,000 went to Russia for the war against Germany.

Although the Studebaker was never used by the NZ Army, Nick Huljich obviously liked their shape, so much so, that in November 1995, he imported the truck from Melbourne and set about carrying out a full restoration over two years between 1996 and 1997.

1945 Ford GPW Jeep

Alt TEXT HERE
Kevin Huljich at the wheel

Continuing with the military theme of our story, two vehicles that aren’t for sale are a 1943 Dodge 6x6 WC 63 troop carrier and a tidy 1945 Ford GPW Jeep, both of which sit nicely together for a photoshoot.

Alt TEXT HERE
The Jeep headlights can swivel for night engine repairs

In case you’re thinking that there’s a typo in the previous paragraph, Kevin says the Jeep was actually manufactured in the Ford factory at a time when Willy’s simply didn’t have the capacity to keep up with demand for the general-purpose vehicle during WWII.

Alt TEXT HERE
The contraption under the screen is a rifle holder

French car and truck manufacture Hotchkiss also manufactured these little workhorses. There were quite a few slight differences between the Jeeps made by each individual company; these variations might be of interest to anyone with a keen eye for detail and can be found on the internet by checking out classicjeeps.co.uk/differences-between-jeeps.

Alt TEXT HERE
It likes being off-road best

The Huljich Jeep sports a weird-looking rifle carrier, which is nestled in behind the fold-down windscreen (‘windshield’ in American terminology) and has all the standard accessories such as headlights that are able to be turned backwards to act as spotlights that light up the engine bay to aid night-time running repairs.

1943 Dodge 6x6 troop carrier

Alt TEXT HERE
Big brother and little brother

Looking very much like a big brother of the Jeep, the 1943 Dodge 6x6 troop carrier was sitting in the shed waiting for its turn to go for a spin around the block. Before firing up the Dodge’s six-cylinder flathead engine and going for a short drive around some country lanes, Kevin takes a minute to reflect on his dad’s dedication to the art of vehicle restoration by saying that while Nick’s mates only looked upon his penchant for military vehicles as ‘tinkering’ in his workshop, he saw things in a different light altogether.

To Nick, this wasn’t simply a hobby to occupy himself in his retirement years; he viewed it is as his current occupation. He truly treated it as a job. Every morning he’d leave his house in his 1985 Mitsubishi L300 truck and drive a few hundred metres to his purpose-built workshop where he’d put in a full day’s work before hopping in the little truck and driving back home.

Alt TEXT HERE
Nick’s Mitsi runabout and C10 Chev

The Mitsi is still in the Huljich fleet and is used frequently for small jobs, and with only 135,000km on the clock, the boys say they’re going to keep the truck as a daily reminder of their dad and his achievements. Besides this, they say it’s a useful bit of kit for handling smaller jobs.

Having been given an insightful understanding of the personality of the man who had preserved all of these pristinely restored vehicles that thankfully are still available to be enjoyed by the generations that are to follow, it was time to set off on our much-anticipated drive in the Dodge.

The straight-cut lower gears of the Dodge’s crash gearbox gave off a pleasant-sounding whine that can only be familiar to vehicle enthusiasts of a certain age, and soon, we were humming along at around 40 miles per hour (70km/h), although, it seems faster in the totally-open cab.

Unfortunately, due to time restraints, we didn’t have time to do some off-roading where we could get to play with the number of levers that operate 4WD, 6WD, and the PTO, which runs the 6000-pound front-mounted winch.

Old truck-buying trips

All too soon we’re back at the workshop, where it’s time for another history lesson. Kevin says that his dad always liked these off-road beasts, so in the 1980s, he set about finding one. He didn’t have to wait long, as he spied one for sale in the central North Island.

The machine had been used to transport skiers up Mt Ruapehu and had become surplus to requirements, so Nick purchased it and had it transported to Auckland only to find it was too rusty to consider a restoration.

Undeterred, he continued his search and with the help of his friend Eli Friedlander, eventually found one for sale, with the only problem being that it was up for auction and in New Caledonia of all places.

As if that complication wasn’t enough, the truck was part of an auction lot of eight military vehicles, with each one being in varying states of mobility. While most people would’ve consigned such a mission to the ‘too hard’ basket, Nick, his brother Andy, and Eli boarded a plane with high hopes of winning the auction when they arrived at their destination.

The upshot of it was that they did, in fact, place a successful bid and spent the following week making all eight trucks mobile enough to drive them onto the ship. Back in Auckland, the intentions of the intrepid trio were that they’d gather enough pieces to build one good unit and sell the rest to defray expenses.

Chevrolet C10

Alt TEXT HERE
The Chev C10 pickup truck is the long wheelbase version

It’s quite apparent that if Nick liked a particular style of vehicle, it wasn’t going to be too long before he owned one, such was the case with the C10. He had George Bunce from Bunce and Curtis looking out for one in California, and sometime in 1989, he received a phone call from George saying he’d found one that was in original condition, albeit with faded original paint and if he wanted it.

Alt TEXT HERE
This C10 was bought for its auto transmission

Nick trusted George and his company’s integrity, so asking a question as silly as that was kind of like asking him if he thought the Pope might be a Catholic; of course, he wanted it and pretty soon thereafter, the truck arrived in New Zealand.

Yes, the Chev really was in original condition—right down to the upholstery and the floor mats—the engine ran nicely, and as promised, the paint was a little faded. Nick had the vehicle resprayed in its original colour, but even Kevin admitted to having a niggling thought of "perhaps Dad should’ve kept it in its complete original condition".

Alt TEXT HERE
Allan Huljich with his pride and joy, the ’63 RHD Impala

When the entire collection of vehicles passed to Allan and Kevin, the brothers agreed that because Kevin had an infinity with the C10 and Allan with Nick’s 1963 Chev Impala, they would take ownership of these two vehicles separately.

Interested in buying

At the time of writing, both the Bedford and the Studebaker were still for sale, however, it wouldn’t pay to hang around too long if you’re in the market for either of these trucks.

The Huljich lads are reasonable about their price expectations, making both of the immaculately restored vehicles particularly viable propositions. Both trucks will be sold with a lot of spare parts as part of each transaction.

Interested parties can phone Kevin 021 881 115 or Allan 021 215 7994.

Find new and used trucks for sale in NZ 

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Deals on Wheels' free newsletter or liking us on Facebook