Ron Daw is a founding member of the Veteran & Vintage Chevrolet Association of Australia (Queensland) Inc.
Ron, at the age of 16, left school to become an apprenticed electrician employed by Queensland Rail. The trial period of 3 months came to an end and Ron found he couldn't even wire a 3-point plug. Realizing that this career was not for him he left for a more challenging position at a local foundry where he signed on as an apprenticed moulder, casting mainly with brass and aluminium.
Shortly after, still aged 16, Ron noticed a 1929 Chev tourer for sale and purchased it. Parts were required and he found an advertisement in the Courier Mail selling 1928 Chev parts. Not knowing the difference at that time he went to look at the parts which were being sold by Harry Burton. It was here he also met up with Bryan Cantrell and both Harry and Bryan visited Ron to look at his '29. They became mates and shortly after Harry noted a story in a magazine titled "Crash Bang" about the newly formed VVCAA Club based in Sydney. (Crash Bang was a trade magazine of the 3M Company, where John De Brincat worked at the time. The article featured his 1926 tourer and the formation of the VVCAA in Sydney.) The three agreed it would be great if a club could be started in Brisbane, so an advertisement was placed in the Courier Mail for a meeting to be held at Ron's parents’ home to discuss the prospects of opening a Queensland Branch.
Bryan was the contact for enquiries received from the advert and around a dozen prospective members attended.
Ron owned the '29 for 12 months and decided an upgrade was required as a mate of his had just sold his '27 Chev and had purchased a '34 Ford tourer the shape of which Ron was keen on. He looked at the photos of his parents’ ‘34 Chev sedan and thought the shape was equally as good, so followed up on a few vehicles for sale including a ‘34 and ‘36 Ford coupe, however these weren’t for him. He did go to inspect a ‘34 Oldsmobile roadster which he regrets he was too late to see, as it had sold a few days earlier. However, the owner had another 'spectacular' car for sale under his house - a '34 Austin, which Ron reluctantly stated was a 'nice car' but he had no interest.
Soon after, Ron at work on a Saturday noticed in the Courier Mail, a ‘35 Chev Standard tourer for sale that he wanted to see. Approaching his boss he told him how 'crook' he felt and that he would have to go home. Permission was given, home he went and then on to inspect the advertised '35 tourer. Driving down the road in his '29, who should he see driving towards him but his boss on the other side of the road, no doubt Ron was trying to look invisible as the boss's car passed by. Arriving at work Monday, his boss asked Ron "did my car see your car on Saturday?" A little more than a bit embarrassing for Ron!
The car advertised was in Everton Park and on arriving Ron found that the owner was - 'away up north' - and the owner's father was selling the car on behalf of his son, Joe Foxley. Ron purchased this vehicle for the princely sum of $140. Years later when Ron was making a delivery to the Golden Valley Hotel in Samford he noticed the Licensee's name was Joe Foxley and he introduced himself to Joe as the purchaser of his ‘35 tourer. Joe was an unhappy chappie about this purchase and was very scathing of his brother who without permission, had sold his car to Ron . Ron didn't say anything as Joe's father was sitting at the bar at the time and Ron decided it was time to leave!
The '29 was sold and the '35 became Ron's everyday car and the first car for Ron to gain expertise on. The first job was to paint it two- tone blue over the two-tone brown and Ron states he was pleased with the job.
The collection had begun.
Next, not necessarily in order, came a '35 Master tourer, a '41 coupe which was swapped for a '35 roadster in 1973 and a VW. Yes you read it correctly, a VW!
The VW and Master tourer were sold to fund a trip to USA with a friend, Graham Poulson. They initially arrived in L.A. and stayed with the editor of the Chev Club magazine and his family for several weeks. A '62 Chev wagon was purchased and then the lads toured the States for 6 months both bird-watching and car-watching. Ron returned to Brisbane and the foundry and stayed for a further 3 years until he purchased his first delivery truck and became an owner/driver.
Ron purchased a sewing machine to make a tarp' for his truck and took a TAFE course on upholstery to improve his skills. Daryl Stark took time to pass on his knowledge of welding and lead wiping to Ron and the timber and mechanical work came naturally.
His first major project was an FJ Holden sedan which he purchased in 1983. The 3 year project saw the sedan become a convertible, and the masterful shaping of the boot to encase the upright spare wheel. This car is still in Ron's collection and is spectacular.
Talking further with Ron revealed that over the years more cars came and went, including a '35 Standard sedan, '33 & ‘34 coupe and I am sure a few others he's forgotten, however the '35 tourer still remained.
Throughout the '70s & ‘80s Ron attended swap meets and collected Chev parts wherever he could and I am only one of many people he has helped out with parts and knowledge over the years.
In 1995 a '35 Master utility came Ron's way and a 2 year project began. The ute was in 'pretty poor nick' and took every minute Ron had to spare. Again the vehicle still remains in Ron's collection and is a tribute to the craftsman he is. Ron swore that this was the last restoration.
Memories fade and in 1998 at a swap in Rockhampton, Ron met a chap who was selling 7 of his 9 cars which were located in Innisfail. Photos of a '34 Master roadster were sent to Ron and a purchase price of $2,500 was negotiated and accepted. The car was shipped to Ron in a container on Queensland Rail and upon opening the container Ron thought "what have I done?" He was sorry he had purchased it and actually advertised it for sale the following weekend but had no takers.
Well what to you do with a '34 roadster with all his knowledge? You restore it, don't you. Of the original '34 he used the front cross member, firewall and three quarters of the roadster section. Every other panel is from different cars. Standard guards that Ron had in his collection were swapped for Master guards and numerous other parts from Laurie Scheuber. Then 4 guards were made from the 7 gained. Parts from 22 cars were used in the cowl and windscreen alone.
Don Moyland assisted Ron greatly with the making and shaping of panels. A blue flame motor rebuilt at Wilsons’ was bolted to an auto Turbo 400. A Falcon diff and hydraulic brakes from a '37 Chev and 16" Pontiac wire wheels made it go forward and stop. Nine years later Ron drove it to Wagga Wagga on the 2007 run and had no problems. I, like a lot of others, are very impressed with this vehicle and again it remains in Ron's stable
In 2006 Ron imported a ‘47 Indian motorbike from the USA and enjoys outings now with the Indian Club. As you would expect, Ron has "tidied the bike up" and it looks a picture.
The Brisbane floods arrived in 2011 and Ron was one of the many to have major problems. He awoke during the night and found it eerily quiet. On arising he found flood water in his back yard and had enough time only to save his vehicles and a few personal items. His house is a Queensland high-set with a good size shed on the lower backyard, housing car parts and the '35 tourer on blocks. The shed went completely under as did the '35, and the lower level of the house. Ron's tools and laundry with sewing machines and numerous parts were fully inundated and the top level of his home had water reaching half way up the walls.
Friends and Club members rallied together to help when the water subsided. When visiting Ron for this story, I found him finishing the last of the repainting inside his home. A new kitchen and laundry has been fitted and later in the month the floors will be repolished and carpet laid. Nearly four months of heartache but the end is near.
Typical of Ron, he states that others are worse off than he and that he was relatively lucky! Ron was humbled by the support and help he received and would like to express his gratitude to all those that assisted him through this event.
This of course has put his retirement plans on hold for a while but I'm sure his spirit will pull him through. He has a property in NSW waiting for him and the prospect of starting his retirement project - the restoration of the ‘35 tourer he purchased when he was 16 years old. The blue flame motor will be replaced with an original and the two- tone blue will become two-tone brown again. Three hides for the upholstery have been purchased from the Murwillumbah swap and many other parts are being collected. The new set of tyres previously purchased, floated away in the flood and Ron found one last week on the roof of his neighbour's shed along with his tent.
Talking further with Ron revealed that over the years more cars came and went , including a '35 Standard sedan, '33 & ‘34 coupe and I am sure a few others he's forgotten, however the '35 tourer still remains.
AAMI will not be paying his insurance claim, so we hope he gets a helping hand from the much maligned Premiers Flood Fund.
Meanwhile the cleaning of parts carries on with Ron looking for the right sized drum to make a molasses bath.
I'm sure Ron will do a great job of the '35 restoration and we all look forward to the end result.