Just shy of her 102nd birthday, Dorothy Collishaw has relived a fond childhood memory as she was reunited with Bundaberg’s first registered car, the 1904 De Dion Bouton.
Dorothy is the granddaughter of the original 1904 De Dion Bouton owner, William Parry, and she recalls fond memories of the motorcar that was extravagant for its time.
But she never imagined the day would come when she would return to sit front and centre of the veteran vehicle.
It was eight decades ago when Dorothy last saw her grandfather’s car and on Monday, she was delighted to not only be reunited with it, but also be given a ride around Bundaberg Botanic Gardens in it, thanks to the Bundaberg Vintage Car Club.
“It’s been a long time since I sat in this,” she said.
“I’m 101 now and its lovely to see it – they’ve looked after it so well.
“It’s really an honour, I had grown up with this car. It was my mother’s father’s car.”
She recalled memories of driving to the beach with her grandfather in his 1904 De Dion Bouton.
“Every time we went up (to see him) we would go somewhere in the car,” she said.
“People used to line along the footpath and laugh and giggle at this funny little car.
“We had a lovely time in it, we would always go to the beach and have a picnic lunch and then come on home.
“We have got a lot of lovely memories around this car.”
As Dorothy sat proudly in the passenger seat, she was asked if she’d like to take the wheel one last time.
“No! They’ve kept it in one piece, and I still want to keep it that way!” she laughed.
It was Dorothy’s long-time friend Ray Miller who played a vital role in the reunion.
“I saw the Bundaberg Now article on the car, but I didn’t want to say anything initially to Dorothy, so I actually contacted Council,” Ray said.
“I just got hold of Dorothy on Saturday just gone, and we were able to organise this quickly with the lovely owners and the group of car enthusiasts.”
Today, the 1904 De Dion Bouton is owned and cherished by local Chris Sorensen who was honoured to share the experience and history with Dorothy.
Chris said in 1904 Mr William Parry was the manager of Bundaberg Foundry and he sent his foreman to London to purchase the vehicle, which was then shipped to Bundaberg.
“We took it to London in 1989,” Chris said.
“It’s still the same colour and is exactly the same as it was – I just keep the brass polished.
“It’s very exciting to reunite Dorothy with her grandfather’s car.”
Chris said he first set eyes on the car as a young boy when it belonged to Queenie Hinkler and he dreamed of a day when he could call the car his own.
“It’s very special and its like you’re not actually the owner, but more the custodian because there is no way I will outlive it – it will outlive me,” he said.
“Every time I go to polish it, I think about its history; I drive it over the Burnett River Bridge and I wonder to myself about it and ask how many times have you driven over this bridge in your lifetime.”