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My Rolls-Royce collection


His shed and under his house are packed with various vintage cars, mainly Rolls-Royces, in various forms of restoration.  The retired architect, now 77, says he doesn't restore them to concourse standard.  "I just want them to be able to run on the road," he says.

Gargett started his love of old vehicles when he was a student at the Queensland University in 1954 and bought a 1926 Austin 7 utility for 35.  "It was a lot of fun but very primitive. But at least I learnt a lot about mechanics with that one," he says.

But he claims his first "real vintage car" was a 1928 French Amilcar sports car he bought for 15 after uni when he joined the Vintage Car Club of Queensland (VCCQ)."I brought it home on a trailer and in bits in a box, but we got that going for some years," he says.

His next purchase in 1961 was a 1925 20 horsepower (15kW) Rolls-Royce costing 220.  "It is fully registered and its six-cylinder engine is still running smoothly," he says.  "I don't drive it as often as I used to."

His love of Rolls-Royces continued in 1963 with a 1920 Silver Ghost for 700.  "I had it out for our daughter's wedding and after the wedding I went to change the oil and a 1/4-inch bolt came out with the oil so I haven't been game to use it.

"I've stripped down the motor and am ready to put it back in now."  He then departed from Rollers but not too far with a 1924 Bentley Speed three-litre he bought for 500.

"The bloke apologised and said it wasn't worth it but he needed the money."  The Bentley remains a challenge to drive having the accelerator in the middle, another throttle on the steering wheel, gear lever on the right of the seat and the handbrake on the outside of the vehicle.  "It takes a bit of getting used to," he says

Gargett claims his interest in British luxury saloons came from his father who "always admired them".  "It's not what they do, but the way that they do it," he says.  "I haven't had them valued because I'm on a pension.

"Anyway, people would need to spend some money to get them all back into good condition."  He also owns a 1972 Rolls-Royce Corniche with a 189hp (140kW) 6.75-litre V8 engine which would cost "well into the five figures just to do the motor up to running condition".

He bought it in 1982 for $50,000 and used it every day until he put it off the road with engine failure.  The car also sports Queensland's first concessional registration number plate, "Qld Vintage 001".

In the late 1960s the VCCQ authorised Gargett to discuss the possibility of concessional registration for cars built before 1930 with the government.  "In those days if the cars were not fully registered we had to arrange for a temporary permit for the weekend including insurance and we were supposed to return the permit on the Monday," he says. 

"A waste of time and money but nothing we could do would convince Main Roads to change their attitude. I think the permit cost us 10 shillings.  I received an introduction to a person from the Treasury and was telling him of our concern. He was surprised as he could see that the system was costing them far more than the fee they were charging."

Talks with more government officials resulted in the establishment of concessional registration based on membership of a relevant club, use for club events, maintenance including testing within a reasonable distance from where the car was garaged and approved charity events.

Today there are more than 15,000 vehicles in Queensland on concessional registration.  "I think the fact that one of my cars is registered as VIN 001 (now VN 0001) supports my summary of the position," he says.

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