Trundles Automotive

Words by  Nick Walker
Roger Richardson Roger Richardson

Bigger is Always Better.

Two years ago, when Chris and Claire Trundle started building their new purpose-built warehouse in Bell Block they were sure the 1,800 square metre premises would be enough to support the growth they expected. They’re now starting to wonder if they should have built it bigger.

Trundles Automotive is a one-stop-shop for all 4×4 suspension and parts needs, sought after by customers with the highest of expectations.

The 17-strong team includes a range of incredibly skilled staff, from highly trained fabricators, mechanics, parts and accessories experts, to graphic designers, 3D/CAD and web design staff. It’s a comprehensive service that covers all the bases.

There are many parts to the business, the biggest being the importation and supply of suspension parts. Trundles is New Zealand’s largest independent 4×4 suspension supplier.

Claire says they are sending thousands of orders each week from their website, including supplying hundreds of workshops around New Zealand.

“The demand is insane,” she says. “Even with three people in the freight department we struggle to keep up. Our warehouse looks packed but we currently have over 150 pallets of stock on the water and we’re still ordering more!”

On top of that, Trundles’ workshop, dyno tuning and fabrication departments are constantly booked out months in advance, with customers coming from all areas of New Zealand.

“We currently have two vehicles in the workshop from the bottom of the South Island – people are quite happy to send them up on a transporter. We’ll work on them and send them back all taken care of.”

It’s a remarkable rise for a business that started quite literally on a dirt floor 12 years ago. Chris came home from work one day with his tools in the boot of a friend’s car and declared he was starting his own business.

“We started out mainly working on farmers’ vehicles and equipment, borrowing tools and just making it work,” Claire says. “After five years we moved to Gill Street where the business continued to expand rapidly. It’s just naturally followed this ridiculous course to where we are now.”

The success of the business really comes down to their combined passion for cars and motorsport. Claire says Chris is “a bit of an animal” when it comes to pushing the limits.

“He gives our vehicles a pretty hard beat down but I think that is why we are so successful,” she says. “At least our customers know the products are fit for purpose!”

“We are no ordinary workshop – there are very few people with balls big enough to chop a brand new Landcruiser in half,” Claire says, referring to a chassis stretched, coil converted 79 series Landcruiser they completed recently.

“It took six months of research, testing and pain-staking back and forward with the LVTA to get it signed off – it’s a massive achievement. We’re the first and only company in New Zealand to design and build this kit.”

Chris is incredibly clever with his diesel tuning – writing and editing software files for the vehicles in their workshop but also assisting many other workshops around New Zealand and Australia with remote tuning. His and Claire’s hard work, dedication and passion to this sector has propelled Trundles Automotive to one of the top spots in the New Zealand 4WD market.

“We do everything in-house, using the best stuff, investing in the best technology, and doing the best jobs. We will likely charge more than others, but that’s because we do it properly. It’s all certified and very few workshops can really match what we do.”

Having recently invested in the latest ADAS recalibration equipment, Trundles pride themselves in having the best facilities and tools available, matched only by their expertise. The new workshop includes a purpose-built dyno cell for the highest quality tuning and performance results. 

Chris was invited to car festival Leadfoot a few years back where he grew a national following after performing massive jumps in his 4.2L diesel GQ Safari.

“A vehicle that heavy shouldn’t fly that well – it’s pretty much a forklift,” Claire says. “That’s the kind of thing that people want to see.”

The team has slowly been working away at some pretty wild modifications to the Nissan Safari, having recently completed a chassis stretch, mid-wheelbase conversion and pro-lite rear end. An extensive engine rebuild is currently underway before Chris will continue to compete in the Offroad Racing Championship.

“People don’t expect to see diesels competing at these events but we love to do things differently,” Claire says.

It’s not the only diesel vehicle making waves on the national scene. Their good friend Wilson Gargan was persuaded to run a 4JJ1 diesel engine in his Trundles sponsored pro-lite, which is a first in New Zealand off-road racing history.

Trundles are continuously investing in research and development by purchasing the latest vehicles to design, manufacture and test products on. Their rowdy 76 Series Landcruiser is well known around New Plymouth. Not much of the vehicle hasn’t been modified, and its number plate 1000NM refers to its incredibly high performance output. 

The arrival of their brand new 300 Series Landcruiser has sparked some excitement, with new products in the pipeline.

Chris and Claire have recently come back from the Melbourne 4×4 show, where they’ve picked up five new suppliers for products that are, at best, hard to get hold of in New Zealand.

Not satisfied with being at the forefront of New Zealand’s 4×4 industry, Trundles continues to find new ways of bringing quality and performance to the sector and their customers. 

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