Classic Cars, Made in Oamaru

Detroit, Coventry, Modena…and Oamaru? You might think that Oamaru does not belong among these famed centres of the automotive industry, but you’d be wrong! Thanks to the efforts of Rod Tempero, a third-generation coach builder working out of a repurposed chicken coop just south of Oamaru, our little town can lay claim to being the home of a select number of replica classic cars, including Maseratis, Jaguars, and Ferraris, and also restored cars by countless other manufacturers.

Rod’s business can trace its history back to 1946, but the family has been in the motorcar business since way back in 1920. This nearly one-hundred year history is much in evidence when you look at the amazing machines that have come out of the unassuming manufactory that many passersby would never suspect was the home to some of the most beautiful cars ever to grace our planet’s roads.

You can see from the photos in the gallery that the cars certainly look beautiful, but you probably cannot imagine that many of these cars were created literally from the ground up in little old Oamaru. It all began when Rod was just 19 years old and found he could not afford to buy a sports car, so he did what any sensible Kiwi would do and decided to build one himself. Before long he was driving around in a replica D-type Jaguar, and just six months after its completion was made an offer to sell it that he could not resist. Thus encouraged, he set up a manufacturing line just to build such replicas, focusing initially on British marques but then moving on to Italian classics.

In addition to manufacturing cars, Rod also restores classic cars, many of which leave the chicken coop looking completely different from the way they drove (or were pushed…) in. The degree of craftsmanship is simply astounding, and is a testament to Rod’s team’s talents.

Even if you are not in a position to order one of Rod’s incredible cars for yourself, Rod happily welcomes visitors to see his work in progress, which always includes a number of projects in various stages of the manufacturing process. You’ll find him just outside of Oamaru on SH 1, in the chicken coop with the racing flags flying outside. And you can read more about Rod and his business here.

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