Caption: Trevor Cox attracts lots of smiles, waves and thumbs up when he drives the streets of Coolum in his family’s immaculate 1912 Cadillac.
By Richard Bruinsma
You can feel the love and respect while driving the streets of Coolum in a cool convertible 1912 Cadillac.
With its royal blue paint, its glistening fittings and rebuilt engine, the Cox family’s fully restored prestige beauty is still attracting attention wherever she goes – just as it would’ve been when she first rolled off the construction line.
Trevor Cox, complete with his enthusiastic eyes and his generous horseshoe moustache, is the caretaker of the Caddy, which was restored to its immaculate condition by his late father Noel.
“He loved it,” Mr Cox said of his father. “He’d take it to car shows and talk to people for hours about it.”
And it’s no surprise. The Cadillac is somewhat of a people magnet. A cruise around Coolum attracted cheers from subbies on a building site, thumbs up from a passing truckie and a cheeky smile from a mum on her way to do the school pick up.
The car was imported from the USA and arrived in Australia most likely in the years soon after its construction.
Noel discovered the machine in 1963 when its best years were seemingly behind it, when he peered between the old timber doors of a forgotten tin shed in Allora, near Warwick.
By then, it was clapped out and in terrible condition, and little wonder.
“It had been cut down into a utility, with a little tray back, and it was used at Roma as a shooting buggy to pick up dead kangaroos,” Trevor said.
The front end, including the headlights, was dented and scratched from ploughing through bushland and running over tree stumps and sticks.
But its poor condition didn’t faze Noel. He bought it for £22 from the owner Bill Budd and then spent many years rebuilding and restoring it to its former glory.
“He dragged it home, the lights were all dented, but everything was there bar the windscreen and back half of the body,” his son Trevor explained.
“He said, ‘I’ve got 90% of the parts, so let’s do it’.”
The mammoth project did create some marital tension with his wife Norma, and it wasn’t till after she passed away that he was able to commit to actually finishing the project.
The painstaking effort Noel took to rebuild the machine is almost unfathomable.
The bonnet was handmade after the original was unsalvageable and he could find no one else who would do the job for him.
The large metal headlights were laboriously panel beaten back into their original shape.
The black radiator cap was recrafted by a dental technician friend in Oakey, who used the same material used for dentures and then coloured it using soot from his chimney.
The rag top’s timber ribs were hand made by Noel and part of the frame was rebuilt using the tapered legs from an old kitchen table.
As for the engine, the former cast iron pistons were replaced by aluminium pistons that were moulded in Yandina and then cast and finished in Helidon.
The Cadillac Model 30 Tourer was eventually resprayed in its original vibrant blue to mirror as it would have looked the day it rolled off the showroom floor.
The Cadillac was the first car to have an electric starter and electric lights. Its selling price in 1912 was $1800, compared to a standard Model T Ford at around $400.
Noel drove the restored Cadillac proudly for several years before he passed away in April 2013, and it was handed down to Trevor and his older siblings Paul and Wendy.
Trevor also owns a 1935 Chevrolet Standard and a restored 1969 Valiant.
The Cadillac is now for sale, but that doesn’t stop Trevor from rolling it out of the garage occasionally for an enthusiastic cruise around the Sunshine Coast – the smiles and waves it attracts makes it all that more enjoyable.