ACT News


Glorious days? Here's a car that suits them to a T

There can't be many cars around that share almost the same birthday as Canberra.

And, like the capital, this original Model T Ford was made to order and retains many of its original details.

Its owner, antique dealer and restorer Antony Davies, has agreed to loan his cherished car to the National Museum for its upcoming exhibition on Australia in 1913, and was on hand yesterday to see it being installed.

"It was my very first antique car - I've had 40 or 50 since," he said.

Not surprisingly, his passion for cars began early, when his parents gave him his first matchbox car before he'd even turned two.

By the time he was 14, he had amassed nearly 1000 of them, and the time had come to buy a real car.


"We lived in the southern highlands at the time and I saw the Model T Ford when it was on display somewhere and fell in love with it," he said.

By a stroke of luck, the car belonged to a family friend, who "sold" it to him in return for weekend and after-school work.

"I think it took seven years to pay for it, so I had an early long relationship with it," he said.

"When I left school and moved to England to study, I became an auctioneer at Sothebys. I sold it back to the same chap that I bought it from, to finance my trip. Then when I came back to Australia I bought it back from him again."

Mr Davies still collects vintage vehicles, but of a different kind - horse-drawn carriages.

"I've been going backwards rather than forwards," he said.

"I have four other vintage cars which I use a lot … and I have 60 horse-drawn carriages."

He keeps them at his Braidwood property, Millpond Farm.

But his Model T still retains its original allure for him.

"It was very interesting, because it had survived almost completely original and intact from 1913, so it's got some interesting features."

These include a boa constrictor horn and brass fittings, as the car was a luxury model built on special order.

"It was much more expensive than the average one, and it still has its body with its coach-builder's plates, and a dealer's plate from Riley Street in Sydney, the original red leather trim and most of its original paintwork, which is black with yellow wheels," Mr Davies said.

"It survived like that, I believe, as a running, registered everyday car up until 1950, and then it had some slight refurbishment. It was used in one of the very early veteran car club rallies in Sydney, when they were popular after the Second World War. It went from that owner to the gentleman I bought it from, to myself, so there have only been two of us since 1950."

He has been in discussion about the car with the museum for some time, especially in relation to the upcoming exhibition.

"It emerged that [the museum] didn't have a Model T Ford in their collection. They were very critical and central to the district at that period, because they were the most popular, sort of rugged go-everywhere car," he says, adding that he had been only too ready to lend the car for the exhibition.

"I was very happy to oblige for its 100th birthday," he said.

Glorious Days: Australia 1913 opens at the National Museum of Australia on March 7, and will run until October 13.