In the fifties, sixties and seventies, when cars were scarce and regarded as valuable ‘investments’, New Zealand struggled to get its own motor industry going – the Trekka, maligned and loved in equal parts, being the only successful attempt.

Racing cars were considered frivolous, so bureaucrats made them even more difficult to obtain. That explains why we had so many homemade specials forming the backbone of the sport in that period. But getting a racing-car industry underway was no trouble for George Niccol Begg – the one-man tyro who designed and built 18 racing cars in a remote corner of Southland.

Car number one was a humble creation, powered by a motorcycle engine. Car number 18 was advanced, sophisticated and competed against the world’s best in Formula 5000 racing.

George died in 2007 aged 77, his cars and his personal efforts having become increasingly appreciated and valued. Now, Joc’ and Scott O’Donnell of Invercargill have decided it’s time to honour this Son of Southland in the same way that Burt Munro has been honoured.

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