LifestyleIn Our Garage: Chris Sorenson’s 1904 De Dion Bouton

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In Our Garage: Chris Sorenson’s 1904 De Dion Bouton

De Dion Bouton
Chris Sorrenson in one of his vintage cars

Seeing an old vintage car every day as a schoolboy triggered Chris Sorenson’s passion for vintage vehicles.

That passion has led him, and his treasured vehicles, on overseas journeys for the London to Brighton run which celebrates the repeal of the Red Flag Act.

Q. Tell us about your De Dion Bouton and how you got involved with vintage vehicles?

A. My first car that I had was a 1948 Morris, and from then it sort of progressed.

It's a French car, it’s a De Dion Bouton and I'm not a Frenchman, so I'm probably still not saying it correctly.

It has a one cylinder little eight horsepower engine, and it always starts.

It's had one coat of paint and it's had its upholstery redone somewhere in its life.

Everything else, all the timber, all the floorboards, everything is the old car. The engine, everything.

It’s just one of those things that just survives time.

The biggest job really is keeping the brass, all the headlights and the taillights in order, because the brass really deteriorates very quickly.

Because they don't run a lot, they don't wear out, and if they do wear out, I make parts for it.

Q. What made you want to buy the De Dion Bouton?

A. It used to sit in a showroom down the bottom of town near Kennedy Bridge in its latter years, and I'm talking back in the ‘80s.

I would go past in the school bus every morning, going to Bundaberg High School and look at it, and think I’d like to own that car.

We saved and saved, and saved some more, and eventually we bought it.

Q. Can you tell us the history of the car?

A. It was sold through a London distributor ship in London … and it has all those plaques on it.

It was purchased by the manager of the Bundaberg Foundry, a man by the name of Mr Parry back in 1903, and he sent his foreman over to organise the purchase and the shipping of the car.

Chris vintage cars
Chris said the biggest job was keeping the brass, including all the headlights and the taillights in order.

I always thought it'd be nice to take it back to London, so we took it back to London and it's actually visited where it came from.

We took it to London in 1989 with our two boys who got all dressed up and we started in Hyde Park and chuffed all the way down to Brighton.

We won the Concours d'Elegance, which is very British so there's a big trophy upstairs, it was a wonderful experience and to come home with that.

Q. Do you have any other vintage cars?

A. This is 1901 Locomobile, so believe it or not, it is older than our favourite lady here by three years.

It was burnt in a fire. And there was a lot of damage done to it.

It's a steam car and the first thing in the morning when you wake up, you just can't go out there and crank it.

Chris vintage car
Chris Sorrenson has a passion for vintage vehicles.

It's like a kettle on the stove. You have to put the fire on in the bottom of the boiler and wait 15 to 20 minutes and check the steam pressure will come up.

And once you've got the steam pressure up, then you just open valves and push levers and it's a tiller steering, so it doesn't have a wheel.

Why do I have steam cars? Because I worked in a sugar mill that ran on steam and I went to sea on ships that in those days were driven by steam.

Until it starts to hiss like an old steam engine that was at the railway station, then suddenly you hear this chuff chuff and off it goes.

Back in the early days when your wife was just about to have a baby and you had to get to the hospital, how you did that and got there at the right time in a steam car still baffles me!

Chris vintage cars
Chris said there was plenty to love about vintage vehicles, including their unique features.

More vehicle stories: Trevor Cooper’s 1988 Chevrolet Corvette

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