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 Corolla FWD Auto
DiffsToyota Hilux Front & Rear
LockersARB Air Locker Rear
SuspensionLand Rover Shocks w/ Coil-Springs, 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!

Yes… Hot Gossip has been around since black & white photography!

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 roll cage, a sign of things to come when the Larsen’s 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 roll cage for a more traditional steel design. This same cage remains to this day!

Phil Collins would be the next owner and do the first rebuild 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! To date, this would be the last podium finish for Hot Gossip in Class & Overall.

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

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 supercharged 4AGZE was fitted over the offseason. A lack of funds afterwards saw the buggy comp ready, but parked up 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 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 well-seasoned Hot Gossip’s best ever C.Z. result with 2nd in C Class, only for it to be taken away with a quirk in the rules thanks to Covid-19, which saw them ultimately in 5th.

With dreams to rebuild Hot Gossip into a Top 10 contender further down the track, the boys from Wellington make the most of the life left to give in one of the oldest competing Trials Truck.