Community & Business

7 March, 2023

Car returns ‘home’ after 100 years

A CAR that was seen around the streets of Herberton 100 years ago has been returned to the town by the company that sold the vehicle as it prepares to celebrate a century in business.

Herberton Historic Village curator Darryl Cooper with the 1924 Chrysler Tourer that has been gifted to the town
Herberton Historic Village curator Darryl Cooper with the 1924 Chrysler Tourer that has been gifted to the town

The five-seat 1924 Chrysler Tourer was the first car sold by Francis R. Ireland MBE and has now been gifted to the Herberton Historic Village.

The car was very advanced for the times and had plenty of room for passengers and luggage and a folding back hood with a decent coat of enamel paint. The model sold in huge numbers.

Back in 1924, the Chrysler Queensland distributors entrusted Mr Ireland with the job of demonstrating the new car. He travelled via the recently opened Range Road through Yungaburra to Herberton, a real feat in those days.

He had to carry extra water and engine oil to replenish the engine along the way because the steep inclines made the motor overheat and oil leak out of the rear main bearing.

While in Irvinebank, Mr Ireland heard that a local school teacher might be interested in the car. It turns out the whispers of the town were correct, and Mr Pienegar bought the vehicle after several demonstrations by Mr Ireland.

Before Mr Pienegar took ownership of the vehicle, Mr Ireland had to borrow the car to return to Cairns.

The car was passed down to Mr Pienegar's sons. The vehicle was then restored in the 1980s by Keith “Snowy” Liekefett of Innisfail, who offered it to Irelands in 1991. The car has been at the Ireland dealership since then but often had to be hidden away in a shed due to lack of floor space.

Richard and David Ireland decided the car deserved better and should be more accessible to the public, so as part of the family's preparations for celebrating 100 years of business in Cairns, the brothers contacted one of the Far Northern region's best historical displays to see if they would take it in.

Now, the car will have pride of place at the Herberton Historic Village.

Historic village curator Darryl Cooper said the 1924 Chrysler was the perfect complement to the vintage vehicle collection already on display.

“While the Chrysler was a mid-range priced vehicle, they were considered a prestige vehicle and rather special for the time,” he said.

“It is very fitting that in the year this long-standing local business celebrates 100 years in Far North Queensland, we are able to display the first car ever sold, and that this car was actually used right here in the local area.”

Mr Cooper said the vehicle, which was in excellent condition, would be exhibited in Day’s Garage, alongside its big sister, the Chrysler 60 Tourer as well as the Village’s 1923 Model-T

Ford, 1923 Harley Davidson and 1925 Indian Prince motorcycle, 1934 Packard Super 8, 1933 Continental Flyer, 1927 Morris Cowley Van (from The Sullivan’s TV series) and the 1937 Chevrolet Master Deluxe sedan, which operated the Atherton/Cairns White Car passenger service.

“Car enthusiasts love visiting the Village – we have a very special collection that is meticulously preserved and looked after by our team of people here.”

He said the vehicle was in running condition and would soon be exciting visitors as a working interactive display on special occasions and events.


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