The Heron Cars Website

Info and resources for Heron Cars


Patrick Harlow, who has written many excellent books on New Zealand built cars, has now decided to write a book on the "Heron Story". This book will be available in about twelve months time. Keep an eye on this page for updates! We'll keep it current with publication dates and where it can be purchased.

Obituary - Chris Cooke. 13 August 1955 to 18 November 2017

I first met Chris when he brought his father's car into Baker Bros for repairs when he was still at school. When he left school, Chris started as a surveyor's apprentice.

By this time I had sold my shares in Baker Bros and started Road and Track Autos in White St, Rotorua. At the time Chris was helping Robert Martin on his rally car and while doing some work on Robert's car one day, Chris turned up to help. He never left after Robert's car was finished and stayed on for the next 25 years. After a couple of days Bev and I decided to employ Chris, which was the best move we ever made.

Chris was very talented, he could weld, spray paint, electrical wiring, wood work, use a lathe, milling machine and fibreglass and in most cases, all self-taught. In fact, he was a master and perfectionist of all trades, something that is extremely hard to find.

When I had a serious accident in 1978 Road and Track Autos was sold and Heron Developments Ltd. was formed 2 years later in 1980. Heron Developments Ltd. built many interesting vehicles over the years from modifying cars, making equipment for people with disabilities, electric cars and trucks, orchard sprayers, racing cars and the Heron MJ1 Sports Cars. The most ambitious being a replica of a Ford GT Mk IV (Heron GT MK4) which is still racing successfully in the historic car class in Europe.

Chris and I also built some very successful racing cars winning the New Zealand Salon Car Championship in 1972 and the New Zealand Super Stock Championship in 1980. Without Chris, Heron Developments would never have built so many cars and equipment. Nothing was too difficult for Chris, just show him the drawings and it would be made exactly as drawn.

Chris spent as much time working on my racing cars in his own time as working in the workshop. Whether I won a race or not, Chris was always at the finish line, the sign of a true friend.

It was a great surprise and very sad when I learnt Chris had MS, he was always so strong and fit, playing basketball and I cannot remember when he had a day off work.

Chris's talents will never be forgotten though, MOTAT, the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland has a Heron MJ1 Sports Car on display with all the photos, drawing and write up on most of the vehicles we built together over the years in its library.

While Chris will be sadly missed, his talents and dedication to Heron Developments Ltd. will be remembered forever.

Ross and Bev Baker, Heron Developments Ltd.

There will be some Herons at the 2018 Ellerslie Concours show! Details here.

It's come to my attention that the email system on this site stopped working some time ago due to ISP security changes. If you've tried send messages and have received no response, please return to the mail page now for new contact info.