When vehicles get long in the tooth and it’s time to upgrade, most people trade them in or sell them. But Lorraine Signal and Wally Pinfold are not most people. They currently own and maintain 9 Suzukis and are hanging on to all of them.
Hard-working dairy famers from Whakatane, Lorraine and Wally have put their Suzukis through their paces. They speak about them fondly, the same way you might describe a farm dog. “They become part of your life – you can’t just get rid of them. So we’ve gone through the years and collected them up” says Lorraine.
Each of their vehicles has a distinct character, a nick-name, and most have ‘dairy-related’ personalised plates. There’s Rufus the Samurai, Herbie, a rare X90, Ernie the Jimny, Ruby the soft-top Vitara, and Mabel the Old Girl.
Her first ‘keeper’ was a flat-deck SJ413. “The 413’s still our favourite. We recently had it tidied up, repainted and reupholstered – it’s a lovely vehicle. Once, when driving it out of Whakatane, Lorraine and Wally were chased by two men yelling at them out the window. “Wally nearly drove off the road!” Lorraine laughs. “But it turns out they just wanted to know if we’d sell it.” Lorraine’s been asked a few times but always says no. “Cowpoo is priceless.”
One of Lorraine’s funny memories includes a Jack Russell. “We’d drive down the farm, leave the 413 in the race and go off to work” says Lorraine. “We’d put the radio on so he didn’t get lonely, and one day we came back and one of the speakers wasn’t working. The next day, the other speaker was gone. Then the radio stopped working altogether. Turns out, he didn’t like the music so he’d chewed through all the wires!” The ‘Jacks’ also learnt to unlock the car by themselves so the central locking had to be disabled.
The pair have owned three Vitaras but described their latest one as “such a luxury to drive”. Mum can get into it and her wheelchair fits in the back.
Lorraine credits some of their love of Suzukis to Richard Underwood (Underwood and Wilkins) who has sold them a number of quadbikes over the years. Grant Johnstone Suzuki (Rotorua) takes care of their cars. “Steve Kelly in parts is so helpful. He’s imported loads for us – we can still get brand-new parts for our 31-year-old 413!” says Lorraine.
Lorraine and Wally have got many more stories – including one about a haunted quadbike, frame no.666, how they started the Whakatane ‘canopy trend’, and a couple that involve overly familiar rodents. But if you want to hear those, you’ll have to pull them aside in Whakatane. Just don’t ask them to sell you one of their Suzuki’s. They’re definitely not for sale.
‘Cowpoo’, the 413’s got 130,000 km on it now, but as you can see, it’s well-looked-after and well-loved.