Model T tour of the globe
DUTCH couple Dirk and Trudy Regter would rate among the world’s real adventurers as they make an 80,000 mile journey round the world, through 50 countries, in their 1915 Model T Ford.
The couple and their support team arrived in Gisborne yesterday and set up camp at Waikanae Beach Holiday Park.
They were on the move today up the Coast and around East Cape on their six-week tour of New Zealand.
“The world adventure started in 2007 when my son Dirk-jan and I took the car from Peking across Mongolia, into Russia and then to Paris,” Dirk-senior, 66, said.
The Regters have used their worldwide drives to raise money for children’s projects.
Dirk is an architect by professional, specialising in homes . . . and he is a Model T enthusiast.
“From the 2007 trip we raised 130,000 euros for two childrens’ projects in the Gobi Desert and in eastern Mongolia,” he said.
He and his wife live in Edam in Holland.
“Trudy came with me on our trip in 2012, when we went through Europe, into Egypt, then down through Africa to Cape Town.
“There were some terrible roads on that trip and a lot of political problems. In Sudan, for example, we could travel only in military convoys.”
From Houston to Canada and backIn 2013, the couple toured the US and did a big loop from Houston to Canada and back.
South American adventureIn 2014, they went to South America, starting in Columbia, then to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and back up to Brazil.
“Going over the Andes, we got up to 15,000 feet and the old car handled it better than our long-wheelbase Land Rover support vehicle.”
While the couple were away over those two years, six grandchildren arrived back in Holland.
“So we decided to take a year off from our travels in 2015.
“The following year we were driving the Model T in Belgium when we were struck from behind by a truck. The car was totally damaged.
“We were not hurt but it took me two years to restore the car,” he said.
Their New Zealand adventure started in Christchurch on February 12 and will end in Auckland on March 20, from where they and the car will go to Brisbane.
“We intend to spend four months driving right round Australia.”
'Engine that's almost original'Dirk and Trudy, 65, bought the car in Canada in 1997.
“It has a rather stock standard Model T engine that’s almost original . . . though I have made a few modifications,” he said.
“I have put hydraulic brakes in the rear and modified the suspension.
“It still has its wood-spoked wheels.
“The car has a top speed of 85kmh but mostly we cruise at 70kmh on the highway.”
Most of the time the couple ride with the hood back.
“We usually pull the hood over only when it’s very hot, to keep the sun off us. The rest of the time we just wear wet weather gear in case it rains.
“There are no windscreen wipers, so we have to look over the windscreen to check where we are going when it rains heavily.”
The front of the bonnet is adorned by a beautifully-made world globe, made by their grand-daughter Inge in white metal and bronze.
“It revolves as we drive along and symbolises our world tour,” Mr Regter said.
His wife said, “life with Dirk is never boring.
“Every day is different and we have a lot of fun together in the Model T.”
Singing songs as they go alongThe vehicle has no car radio or sound system.
“So we sing songs as we go along.
“Every morning as we set off we sing Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again, and then we’ll get into some John Denver. Country Road is a favourite,” she said.
The couple have a long wheelbase Land Rover and two-person support team travelling with them. Friends and family back home take turns to travel with them.
Steven (Steef) and Margaret (Greetje) Reilingh are with them on the New Zealand leg of their world tour.
“Dirk and Trudy are used to living on the road like this,” Steven said.
“Dirk is such a humorous guy, though he can be very serious and stubborn at the right moment. It is certainly really enjoyable travelling with them and it’s certainly not a lazy holiday. We are kept busy.”
The Regter’s operate a website through which people can make donations towards their fundraising projects. It is www.ModelTworldtour.com
They have raised $NZ80,000 since 2016 for children’s projects in Bolivia and Peru.
“A brighter future for children worldwide” is their motto.
The couple were met at Waikanae Holiday Park yesterday by Gisborne vintage car enthusiasts Rod Clague, with his 1927 Chev, Trevor Jukes, with his wife’s 1925 Model T coupe, and Mark Dunn and his 1915 Model T.
“It’s great to have the Regters and their car here,” Mr Clague said.
“The engineering modification work Dirk has done in his car is absolutely outstanding,” Mr Jukes said.
“Henry Ford would be proud of it.”