134C Daniel Howat & Curtis Hawkins

“Hot Gossip”



Truck Details

NameHot Gossip
MakeSuzuki Special
Year BuiltRebuilt 1996, Originally from 1980’s
EngineToyota 4AGZE Supercharged 1.6L
TransmissionToyota FWD Auto
DiffsToyota Hilux Front & Rear
LockersARB Air Locker Rear
SuspensionLand Rover Shocks on Coilsprings, 4-Link Front, 3 Link Rear
Wheels33×12.5R15 Kumho Powerguard MT on 15×10″ Steel Beadlocks


Previous DriversAccolades
Daniel Howat (2021-)Dragged the cougar out of retirement!
Blair Allen (2006-2007)
Rob Searle (2004-2005)
Peter Madsen (1997-2003)
Phil Collins (1994-1997)Multiple Top 10 placings, last podium with 2nd in 1996
Phil Barnard (1990-1994)
Owen Larsen (1980-1990)Multiple Top 10’s during the 80’s

One of oldest vehicles still competing dating back to the 1980’s, Hot Gossip has gone through a few face lifts in its time over its last 40 years of competition!

Hot Gossip was built as a chopped down Suzuki LJ80 fitted with a bored out Suzuki 1300cc based off the Suzuki SJ410 1.0L engine. Running coil springs in the front and Cowper Lockers, Owen & Sharron Larsen would learn their craft in Hot Gossip fighting for the National Title, ultimately losing out to the Hafljnger based Mighty Mouse of Syd D’Ath. Towards the late 80’s Hot Gossip featured an Aluminium rollcage, a sign of things to come when the Larsens would then debut their D Class challenger to take the sport by storm!

Phil Barnard would purchase the Suzuki in the early 90’s swapping out the rollcage for a more traditional steel one that remains to this day!

Phil Collins would be the next owner and do the first rebuil in 1996. Swapping out the running gear for Hilux diffs and 33” tyres. The changes made a big difference, with Collins achieving 2nd overall at the 1996 Waikato 4×4 Trial.

Peter Madsen of Hawkes Bay would then rally Hot Gossip for several years, swapping the 1300 for the popular G16 1600cc Suzuki motor. After drowning the buggy in 2003, “Jeep” would fit a Toyota 4AGE in before onselling to Rob Searle in the far north

Searle would compete in one season before Hot Gossip changed hands again, this time back to the Wellington region to Blair Allen.

Allen would compete in the 2007 season with the tired 4AGE only good for 60% throttle! As such, a newly sourced supercharger 4AGZE was fitted over the offseason. A lack of funds afterwards saw the buggy comp ready, but tucked away for the next 13 years!

After compiling a collection of photos of Trials Trucks from years gone by, Daniel Howat would soon find out that the old C Class truck tucked away close to home was in fact the long forgotten Hot Gossip!

2021 would see Howat & Korey St Clare perform a dulux rebuild as Hot Gossip would contest the 2022 Central Zone Series. Finishing all 3 rounds, the duo had achieved the buggy’s best ever CZ result with 2nd in C Class, only for it to be taken away with a unique Covid-19 rule for that season which saw them 5th.