Robby Naish Talks Trucks

Something that has developed on Maui over the last few years is the battle to own the coolest ride down to the beach.


Something that has developed on Maui over the last few years is the battle to own the coolest ride down to the beach. Wheels have been getting bigger, tires fatter, suspension higher, stereos louder and paint jobs more radical. It seems, the esteem of the motor that you cruise round in is directly related to the more cred you have down at the beach. These days you are in serious danger of becoming a nobody on Maui unless you have a ‘bad ass’ set of wheels. When I mentioned the idea to the investigate who has the most bad-ass wheels, to a friend in Maui, Roby’s new van was top of the list:

"You gotta do Naish’s new van, it’s ridiculous! You have to see it to believe it"…

Naish has always been known to dabble around with cars and trucks of all shapes and sizes over the years. He has been into racing and has never been shy of making a statement when it comes to his ride to the beach. I was hardly surprised therefore that Robby’s latest new motor is probably the biggest, boldest, meanest van on Maui. I’ll leave Robby himself to explain its history:


"Last Christmas I was at my in laws in Oregon and had a lot of time sitting around in bad weather and stuff. I figured I would start looking for a new truck. I got on the Internet and started looking for an old rust free van to bring to Maui. Anything you buy over here in Maui is rusted out. I found this one in California; it’s a 1979 Dodge Shorty Cargo Van. The guy I bought it off had had been building it over 9 years and never finished it off. He gave it a complete frame modification and a brand new 360 cubic inch Dodge V8 motor that had not even been hooked up to the fuel tank yet. He was running out of the gas tank between the seats. It has a brand new fuel cell, richmond gears, summit axels all kinds of killer stuff.

When I bought it, she had 44-inch monster tires on it. They were huge; it was like a cartoon character. I had to change down to 38 _ inch tires, it was too dam big and really difficult to drive. The big tires didn’t really fit every time I turned a corner they would scrape against the wheel arches.

I shipped it back to my house on Oahu and had to complete all the work. I had to finish the motor and electrical work and do some frame work. The frame underneath wasn’t quite right so I had to fabricate all the cross members and re-do all the shocks and the exhaust. I painted it at a shop in Kailua; I used real paint this time instead of camel paint like on my old truck. It took a while to finish it off. I finally got it on the road now and it is a lot of fun.

It is not easy to drive. I am kind of used to driving big vans. I am getting bigger and bigger each time. I can drive this one fine but put a normal person in there on a really windy day and they might have trouble. I don’t let Katie drive around in it, definitely not. I don’t think she would want to. The dog has trouble getting in there. If he gives it a good run he can get in the side door. It is not so bad with these tires. When the 44-inch tires were on it was even tough for me to get in. The whole thing was 5 inches higher.

I have only recently started calculating the gas mileage but it looks like I am getting about 8 miles to the gallon out of her. It is not exactly cost effective but I don’t drive it that much. In the back I carry two windsurf boards, two kite boards and one surfboard. This is smaller than my last van inside so it keeps me from hoarding too much stuff.

This is the third of many vans I will ever own. I am already planning to do another one. I want to do something a little more serious looking. This one looks a bit funny; it is like a monster truck. I want something a little bit lower but a little more high performance. This was cheap, I didn’t really spend that much on it. That is the problem with me, I am always trying to find the cheapest way of getting things. I bought the van for almost nothing, the engine is worth more than I payed for the whole thing. It did take me six months work and some extra money to get it running which was kind of a pain in the ass. It was fun, the locals over here love it"



Robby’s Maui residence is in the popular area of Haiku on the North Shore. Haiku is the most lush of the upcountry villages on Maui with more vegetation, more rain and a quiet country atmosphere. Robby’s place is tucked away next to a gulch and enjoys a reasonable sized plot of land. Obviously Robby doesn’t want his exact location know to the general public. He already gets enough Japanese windsurf tourists stopping by to take pictures. It’s a relatively simple abode, very nice and cozy but nothing extravagant. Rob has added the nice touch of decorating the ceiling of his front room with a selection of his classic wave and surfboards. The house boasts three beds, two bathrooms, a rental studio down below and a double garage. Rumor has it that Rob has bought some land in a more remote location where he plans to build a new house with a lot more privacy and away from the crowds. Robby’s main house is on Oahu but with the Naish business largely based on Maui, Rob and Katie now spend around 50% of their time on Maui.


"I have been here since 1987. Before that I bounced back and forth between Oahu and Maui. I used to stay at friend’s houses and sleep on floors and do the typical Maui deal. When we started coming over more and more, we decided we needed a place to live. Over the years as the Naish business has grown, especially where it is based on Maui, we spend more and more time here. I still call me real home my place on Oahu.

I live here at least 50% of my Hawaii time. It’s a comfy house. Darrel Wong lives downstairs in a little rental I have. I have an inbuilt photographer and somebody to watch the place when I am away. It is convenient, good for Darrel and good for us.

I think we might sell it next year. It hasn’t really gone up in value since we bought it. It is a three bedroom, three bath and studio one bedroom apartment downstairs. I have a company do the entire garden and yard work. I don’t have time to do all that…I wish!"