Police patrol car at Southward Car Museum. Photo / David Haxton
A New Zealand Police patrol car, which created a piece of embarrassing history after the Transmission Gully motorway first opened, has been donated to Kāpiti’s Southward Car Museum.
The police patrol got stuck in a gravel arrestor bed, designed to stop runaway vehicles, on the first day the new motorway opened; driver error was given as the reason.
But the main reason the car was donated to the museum was that it is one of the last true Australian-built Holden-brand police vehicles that operated throughout New Zealand.
Three similar models of the Holden Commodore SV6 Highway Patrol are going to other museums in the country.
The Southward vehicle was cleaned up and returned to service after the motorway incident but came up for its scheduled retirement in May.
Southward Car Museum’s Assistant Manager John Bellamore said the museum was delighted to have the car after an approach by police.
Some operational gear had been removed by police but the lights, siren and horn worked.
The car has various battle scars, which adds to its presence and marks its authenticity.
“We’re not going to do anything to it.”
The car had been a hit with visitors keen to get a close-up view.
“We’ve only just got it.
“There has been a lot of interest in it because it is just so different.
“I think it’s great.
“There were quite a few comments on social media with the majority saying, ‘wow, what an icon to leave here’.
“It’s the last of the Holdens.”
The bell tolled for police Holdens in 2020 when General Motors announced it was withdrawing from the right-hand-drive market, spelling the end for Holden production in Australia.
Inspector Brian Yanko, from the Fleet Service Group, said higher-than-normal prices had been reached for the iconic Holdens when the decommissioned cars had gone to auction.
After being approached by a museum about acquiring one of the police cars, he thought there would be “many past and serving police officers who in the future would definitely love the ability to show younger family members and friends the patrol vehicles they used to drive”.
“Public interest in the Aussie-built Commodores has always remained high.
“This will become especially relevant once none of the older vehicles are on the road.”
New Zealand Police Museum Director Rowan Carroll has been liaising with the museums, ensuring the paperwork is completed and that a Deed of Gift was ready for signing at handover.
She said an important condition is that the vehicles are handed back to police for decommissioning and disposal if the museum no longer requires them.
The other cars are going to the Hillsborough Car Museum in New Plymouth, Toitū Museum, Dunedin, and the National Transport and Toy Museum in Wānaka.