AUGUST MONTHLY MEETING, Drouin Golf Club – Thursday 9th August

Almost 60 members and friends enjoyed another lovely two-course meal at the Golf Club this month whilst welcoming new members and catching up with Club news and events.
The centre of attention was a massive 1923 Cadillac on display in the dining room which belongs to members of Bill Formby’s family. Bill, a retired mechanic and TAFE teacher, is the car’s custodian and he has obviously been very much involved in its magnificent restoration and maintenance for a long time.
In 1960, Bill’s Uncle Henry, who was a stock-car racer, found the derelict Caddy in a Moe paddock and bought it for ten quid. Vintage cars back then were worth virtually nothing until interest in them began to increase in the 1970s. Uncle Henry decided not to use it as a speedway car, so it was put back on the road and used as his daily driver until he passed away in 1981. In 1967 Bill was loaned the car to go for his driver’s licence test in, which he obviously passed with flying colours.
Cadillac built their own chassis, bodies, engines, gearboxes and diffs in Detroit USA. This car was fitted with a 5-litre, side-valve V8 similar to the contemporary Ford unit, but utilising an alloy block with iron heads. The engine now in the car, however, is not the original unit. Bill believes that this engine was rebuilt by Repco in 1960 and then fitted to the car. It drives through a 3-speed, non-synchro gearbox to the rear axle. The Caddy is very much over-engineered and seems to have endured the last 90 years and probably 1,000,000 miles, very well.
Little of the Caddy’s early history is known. What is known is that it was shipped from Detroit to Melbourne in 1923 and purchased by a couple from up near Nhill in the State’s west. How it ended up in a paddock in Moe in the 1950s is unknown! Once in the Formby family, however, Bill can seemingly account for every detail.
Bill enjoys driving the Caddy, although at 2.5 tons it is a heavy car and drives much like a small truck. The engine develops about 80bhp, but is very torquey and pulls strongly from just over idle. Once on the move, the gearbox can be placed into top gear and just left there!
We thank Bill for bringing the Caddy along to our meeting and regaling us with his anecdotes and obvious passion for the grand old lady.

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