Machines fascinated Burt Munro (1899-1978) from an early age. He was born into a farming family at Edendale, in Southland. In 1920 he bought a new Indian ‘Scout’ motorcycle, with a top speed of about 50mph. From then on, his ambition was to make it go faster - after 45 years of rebuilding and tuning, it would go four times that speed.
In the late 1920s, Burt worked as a speedway rider in Australia. He returned to Southland with a young family after the Great Depression struck, and sold motorcycles. But his main interest was still the quest for speed.
In 1948, Burt decided to stop working and concentrate full-time on modifying his two motorcycles - a 1936 Velocette and his Indian. With little money, and living in a shed with his tools and bikes, he constantly rebuilt the machines. His motto was ‘I’ll never give up until I’ve had a good run.’