His 1929 Chevrolet International sedan features more legroom in the back than a modern German saloon. Photo Gallery
Back seat passengers get a limousine ride when they accompany Cyril Conwell on one of his many vintage club rallies or charity drives.
His 1929 Chevrolet International sedan features more legroom in the back than a modern German saloon, it rides plush despite old cart-spring suspension and there is even a long panic rail on the back of the front bench seat.
"Some people call it the `oh shit' rail because when you go around a corner that's what you shout," says the 65-year-old retired builder of Tarragindi in Brisbane's south.
Conwell bought the American beauty in 1996 for $18,000 and wouldn't part with it, despite a couple of offers. "I pestered the former owner for four years to sell it," says Cornwall who is the vehicle's fifth owner.
The right-hand-drive Chevy arrived as just a motor and chassis from the US with the coachwork produced in Port Adelaide by Holden. It was the first of the six-cylinder models featuring a 194 cubic inch (3179cc) plant that pumped out 47 horsepower (35kW) at 2500rpm.
Conwell says it will do 80km/h on the highway and return about 13-14 litres per 100km fuel economy. The car is in original condition except for reupholstering, repainting (it was originally white), indicators and a radio.
"My wife doesn't like vintage cars and I'm usually by myself so I need a radio to keep me company," he says. "That is except when I take elderly people for a drive to get them away for a while. "I had a 93-year-old lady recently who had an oxygen mask with her and she was as sharp as a tack. She said the Chevy brought back some wonderful memories."
Conwell also owns a 1961 3.4-litre, six-cylinder Jaguar Mark II which his wife, Margaret, inherited last year. It's worth about $15,000. "It's like a rocket after being in the Chevy," says Conwell.
His first vintage car was a 1927 Model T Ford Roadster he bought in 1989 for $12,000 but is now in a museum near Crows Nest on the Darling Downs. Conwell's first car was a two-door 1955 Morris Minor he bought for 320 at the age of 17. "It was a top car and about all I could afford at the time," he says.
After two years he upgraded to a 1962 Austin Lancer and two years later to a 1958 FC Holden which he sold to build his house. He then bought a 1958 Morris Major followed by an FC ute, then a 1968 Morris Mini Minor which he kept for 23 years.
Conwell now owns a 2001 Ford Laser wagon and a 2001 Mazda Bravo ute. His dream car is a Mercedes-Benz C220 CDI because he once owned a 1977 Benz 300D which he found reliable and economical. "The new diesels are a lot better, though," he says.
The Queensland Vintage Vehicle Association member has also been an RACQ member since 1974, evidenced by the historic RACQ badges on his Chevy which are worth up to $300 each. He has shown his car in the RACQ's annual Motorfest since 1995 which was the second year when it was still called Motoring of Yesteryear.
Motorfest is on again tomorrow (JUNE 28) at Brisbane's Eagle Farm Racecourse and Conwell's Chevy will be there. It will be joined by Queensland's largest showcase of more than 800 vintage, veteran, classic and special interest cars, bikes and trucks, including the world's fastest electric car, the Tesla Roadster.
There will also be fashion parades, wine tasting, carnival rides, a performance by Australian Idol finalist Chrislyn Hamilton and an appearance by V8 Supercar driver Fabian Coulthard.
Proceeds from the event go to the RACQ Helicopter Rescue Network, with last year's event raising almost $18,000 for these vital community services. Visit: www.racq.com/motorfest or call 131905.