KIWI THUNDER

OWNERS: HB Monstertrucks (Hayden Cornick, Benn Milne & Glen Jacobs) - Nigel Baillie - Warren Arthur - Mike Parkes

BUILDER: Mike Parkes

VEHICLE: Nissan Navara King Cab

ENGINE: 467cu.in V8

HORSEPOWER: 600hp

CARBURETION: Supercharged with twin Predator carburettors

DIFFERENTIAL: 5 Ton Military Rockwells with 11" planetary hubs with Detroit locker

STEERING: Full hydraulic, front steer only

GEAR BOX: Turbo 400 with 3000 stal converter

TRANSFER CASE: Two speed military Rockwell

SUSPENSION: Arch springs with 20 shock absorbers

TIRES: 66" x 43" x 25" Goodyear Tires

Since Christmas time 1987, Kiwi Thunder has been gripping crowds all over the North and South Islands of New Zealand. An old truck by today’s standards Kiwi Thunder is one of very few original monster trucks still around, remaining virtually unchanged since its inception. It is also one of fewer monster trucks to be built using an Asian branded vehicle, that being a Nissan utility. Throughout the past two decades Kiwi Thunder has remained a steady performer, used primarily for promotional purposes, yet carrying with it the awesome ability to catch air over crush cars if the need ever so arises.

Early off-road racing identity and original owner Mike Parkes built Kiwi Thunder without ever having seen a monster truck in person. Mike took his inspiration from photos of other monster trucks performing in the United States at the time. With nothing more than those photos, Parkes instinctively over-engineered the truck, building it strong and heavy in every respect. As too in the US such an instinct was common and consisted the inborn pattern of monster truck designs at the time. The donor body selected to pair with the frame was a stock Nissan Navara King Cab, stripped of its driveline and original motor then mounted to the chunky straight rail chassis, housing all the major ‘monster’ components. Despite the construction of the truck coming together quite favourably, there were the inevitable complications which would naturally present themselves to any person not yet well acquainted to monster truck physics. Among other problems early on, the truck frequently melted transmissions. Nevertheless, these were all problems soon remedied within the first six months. Quite interestingly, Kiwi Thunder was only ever built with front wheel steering and to this day remains as such. In a world where monster trucks should (and sometimes must) manoeuvre with all four wheels, Kiwi Thunder still maintains the steering tradition of it’s long departed Navara driveline.

Being a true New Zealand creation, it was almost inevitable that Kiwi Thunder would make the short journey across the Pacific to compete against Australia. In 1989, the Monster Truck Challenge marked that very occasion and Kiwi Thunder was finally placed face to face with Australia’s own Aussie Battler. However, what was expected to be a fierce rivalry was immediately transformed into comradery, as the Challenge tour also saw competition in the form of the two American monster trucks, Bigfoot and Taurus. The Monster Truck Challenge was a huge success across both Australia and New Zealand, and could be credited with sparking an interest in the fans that was bolstered by the home grown behemoths.

In its enduring presence, Kiwi Thunder has seen a fair share of different owners and drivers, most of which had kept it in shape. Everybody who had handled the great old truck took it for what it was and made no undue effort to push it beyond its measures. Since its creation, Kiwi Thunder was always the show pony, well manicured and out there for a bit of fun, and it seemed as though the truck would take care of those who took care of it. Retired European monster truck veteran, Ian Batey began his long successful monster trucking career behind the wheel of Kiwi Thunder back in 1993. The skills Batey developed behind the wheel of this humble truck would lead him on a venture, driving monster trucks all over the world, including most of Asia and Europe. Finally settling in Europe, Batey would serve a vital role in the establishment of the European monster truck industry. As time went on, Kiwi Thunder would succeed through further owners and drivers, including well known off-road enthusiast, racer and businessman Warren Arthur who passed away in late 2006. The truck now rests in the ownership of Nigel Baillie, who continued the tradition of the old truck, displaying it at various venues throughout New Zealand.

Dramatically, the rich history behind Kiwi Thunder had almost come undone in the earlier part of 2007, when the truck and its transporter were leased out to an independent promoter. Unfortunately at the time, little was known about the background and character of the lessee, and within a period of months money owing was on the increase, fees weren’t paid and events became no-shows. When the lease defaulted and the truck and transporter were finally repossessed, they were found to be stripped bare of almost $60,000 worth of equipment. Authorities were promptly contacted and with that their investigations brought about the recovery of most of the stolen goods. Not all was returned in a fitting shape however, since many parts were damaged and the motor would never be recovered.

The truck remained in this shape from mid 2007, until two men from Upper Hutt, Hayden Cornick and Benn Milne, approached Baillie with a proposal to purchase Kiwi Thunder. A successful deal was struck with Cornick and Milne, and alongside their new business partner Glen Jacobs their dream began, working towards the reincarnation of Kiwi Thunder into the beast that is known as The Demon...

 

New Zealand's only promotional monster truck

Out there for a bit of fun

 

Hi there, just a note to say Kiwi Thunder, from New Zealand, is now owned by Nigel Baillie. I am keen to learn and keen to travel to meet other people who are into monster trucks. This is a new venture for me, as I am from a restaurant background, this is a huge change that I'm going to take head on.

Thanks

Nigel Baillie.

www.kiwithunder.co.nz thanks for the link Richard Scott.

Hi Dennis,

Please find attached photos of our Aussie Monster Trucks.

All photos courtesy of the Aussie (+Kiwi) Monster Trucks Gallery - www.amt.mtm2.com

 Kind Regards,

Mark Hurley and David Carr.

 

BACK TO GALLERY

 

 

8