One man and his truck

Alf Quaife’s Concorde V12 Kenworth acting as a hearse on his last drive. Photo: Daniel Hines.

He could pick up pretty much any tool or drive anything with an engine. Alf Quaife was a “hard-nosed man” with a gentle nature taking his last drive into the light.

Alf Quaife, 78, passed away peacefully at home in Te Puna on Saturday, March 16, with his daughter by his side.

He was a legend in the trucking world – a status that was evident as more than 400 people attended his funeral on Saturday, March 23.

To send him off in the right way, his Concorde V12 Kenworth was taken out of a private collection to become the hearse in his last drive - this time as a passenger.

The fire-red truck looped around Te Puna and stopped by many places of monumental importance for Alf, before arriving at Tauranga Park for the funeral service.

Alf’s daughter, Tina Glover, says the funeral was exactly what Alf would have wanted.

“When I found out the Concord was coming out of Barry Crawford’s private collection I was elated,” says Tina.

“It was a pretty iconic truck because it was one of a kind, and the other V12 never performed as well as his one - probably because dad lavished so much attention on it and kept everything running up to standard.”

In the 1970s, Alf put hundreds of thousands of miles on the clock carting logs in the Concorde, and had driven and carted logs out of the bush on most, if not all, of the forestry roads in the North Island. 

Carting four loads a day, Alf and the Concorde held all the cartage records on the New Zealand Forest Products run to Mount Maunganui, including speed, weight and number of loads per day.

Tina says he loved the travel and the fact that he never knew where he’d end up each day.

“Mum would ring up and tell me he went from Tauranga to Waikato then down to Wellington,” says Tina. “I think he just liked being out on the road and driving.

“He used to pass cars with a full load of timber over the Kaimais - and that was even going up the other side towards Tauranga.”

Alf knew his trucks inside and out and did all his own maintenance, meaning he rarely broke down. But there was one wee mishap that made his beloved Concorde that bit more famous.

“Back in those days, you didn’t have health and safety and you didn’t have people closing off a road, so he very quietly rolled his truck into a drain in Te Poi early one morning,” says Tina.

“The logs all fell off, so dad got a ride home with another truckie, got another truck over there and a loader and put the logs on the other truck. They then pulled the Concorde out of the ditch and dad drove it home.”

He’d bent the gear stick, and there was some frontal damage, meaning he had to get a little cosmetic work done on the truck.

“When the Concorde went in to get work done, dad thought ‘why not give it a paint job?’.

“The Concorde came out of the paint shop a few weeks later with a new look, making it stand out even more.

“Painted in the new black with gold, orange and red stripes, it nearly caused a few accidents.”

Alf sold his Concorde in 1980, but carried on working hard in the trucking industry carrying logs, maize and fertiliser - you name it. He also continued working with tools and machinery, including dredging the entrance of the Tauranga Harbour.

“There were two facets to his life,” says Tina. “There was this hard-nosed, hardworking truckie and construction worker, and then there was this quiet, happy, fun family man who grew the most amazing vegetable garden and absolutely adored his family.

“I idolised him as a girl,” she says. “He was my hero.”