|What do Marlene Dietrich's 1934 Cadillac Town Cabriolet and a Kubota L4600 utility tractor have in common? A gull-winged Mercedes-Benz and a Kubota GR2120 ride-on mower? An 1895 Benz Velo imported to New Zealand in 1900 and a Kubota B7100 tractor? Answer: they all earn their keep at the Southward Car Museum on the Kapiti Coast!
Southward is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest private car collection. Its classic vehicles and conference facilities attract the visitors but the Kubota vehicles keep the 4 hectare grounds looking gorgeous.
Property manager Alistair Beissel says over the past 31 years the Museum has had 10 Kubota vehicles. The first tractor – a B7100 - arrived in 1982. The first ride-on mower – an FZ2100 – arrived in 1992.
"We used to have classic mowers but one was always in the workshop so we were looking for a mower that could actually catch the grass. We tried numerous brands but Kubota fit the bill, mainly because of the high lift catcher, the build-quality and the price.”
Bernie Beissel (left) and son,
Alistair (Property Manager),
Southward Car Mueseum
|Alistair says there are a few hills on the property so the FZ2100’s four-wheel drive was a welcome change. Having a reverse was also a pleasant improvement. "At that stage green waste was free, so we backed it onto a trailer and took it to the dump. Now we mulch it.”
The FZ2100 lasted eight years, working all year round. They traded it in for the F3560 in 2000. "The quality of the first one hadn’t dropped but we were using it more and we wanted to change from pick-up to having a flail deck to mulch the grass back in.” In 2007 they in turn traded the F3560 in for a F3680. "We try to keep the gear modern, and we get a good trade-in price.”
The latest ride-on is a 21hp GR2120 with hydrostatic transmission. It is a mulching rotary mower, so there’s no catcher to empty. It has variable cutting height from 25 to 102mm, and Alistair cuts at around 35mm. "The best thing is the turning circle, and it doesn't scuff the grass. The technology is fantastic in such a little mower.”
Over on the tractor side, the original 16 horsepower Kubota B7100 tractor was replaced with a 17hp Kubota B1700 in 1998. Then Alistair decided they needed a bigger tractor for the general work around the property so they up-graded to a 46hp Kubota L4600. It has a bucket and can take a bigger mower on the three-point linkage. The L4600 has rollover protection and an optional sunroof. It’s four-wheel drive with hydrostatic transmission.
"It’s easy to use, with plenty of grunt; I mow in the medium range. We have a loader on the front and a silage clamp for picking up green waste.” Alistair says. "It has cut mowing time in half, and it’s really comfy. I can happily sit on it for four hours a day.” The Kubota L4600 does most of the mowing while the ride-on cuts the tighter areas around trees as well as the lawns of the two houses on the property.
Maintenance on the Kubota’s is done by Norwood Farm Machinery Centre in Palmerston North. "Their service is fantastic. We’ve been dealing with Ron Fletcher for years, he’s always looked after us and they loan us an RTV for our big open day once a year. The service guys are also really good: any issues and they are down here.”
Alistair personally bought another Kubota B7100 as a back-up tractor because he likes that model so much. He says with his Kubota machines on hand, keeping the Museum’s grounds looking great is one thing he doesn't have to worry about.
Kubota is imported in New Zealand by C B Norwood Distributors Ltd.