Old­est car on show

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS -

Aus­tralia. THE old­est sur­viv­ing car in Western Aus­tralia left its Welsh­pool home last week and re­turned to York for the first time in 115 years.

The Benz, on loan from the Western Aus­tralian Mu­seum, will go on dis­play at the York Mo­tor Mu­seum.

The mu­seum’s col­lec­tions and re­search fa­cil­ity in Welsh­pool housed the rare ve­hi­cle prior to its move last Wed­nes­day.

WA Mu­seum chief ex­ec­u­tive Alec Coles said he was pleased the car would spend the next two years in York and that the Mo­tor Mu­seum would be able to share the car’s colourful his­tory with its vis­i­tors.

“We be­lieve the Benz was only the third mo­tor car im­ported into WA and is the old­est Pic­tures courtesy Mo­tor Mu­seum of Western sur­vivor of those early im­ports,” Mr Coles said.

“That would make it WA’s old­est car.

“It was ac­tu­ally im­ported by a res­i­dent of the York area, Wil­liam De Lisle, so it is won­der­ful to see it re­turn to the Avon Val­ley af­ter more than a cen­tury.”

Mr De Lisle was caught driv­ing the ve­hi­cle at 18mp/h (al­most 29km/h) on the cause­way in Vic­to­ria Park. He was fined £7 (more than $6000 in to­day’s terms) and la­belled a “fu­ri­ous driver”, a “plu­to­cratic mo­tor-hog” and a “bloated mo­tor-car own­ing gold bug” in the news­pa­pers.

“The drive belts in the Benz used to con­stantly over­heat due to fric­tion, so its next owner, Dr House of Katan­ning, used to drive around with a big tin of mo­lasses so he could stop and ap­ply it to the drive belt ev­ery few kilo­me­tres,” Mr Coles said.

It is be­lieved the his­toric Benz was built in 1901 and was dif­fi­cult to con­trol on the poor roads at the time, so it even­tu­ally be­came a sta­tion­ary en­gine driv­ing a chaff cut­ter for a Katan­ning farmer in the 1920s.

When the farm was sold in 1928, the Benz was do­nated to an au­to­mo­bile club. By the time it was do­nated to the Western Aus­tralian Mu­seum circa 1950, it was in a poor state as had not been pro­tected from the el­e­ments.

To­day its body, up­hol­stery and fit­tings are miss­ing but the car rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant chap­ter in WA mo­tor­ing his­tory.

Left: The his­toric Benz circa 1928. Right: The Benz to­day, be­ing ex­am­ined by Western Aus­tralian Mu­seum tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer Sal­vador Gomez.

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