Roger reminisces

July 14, 2017

It was being invited to chauffeur a Deniliquin Show special guest on show day which inspired Deniliquin’s car lovers to form the Deniliquin District Veteran & Vintage Car Club.

Then Deniliquin resident Roger Benjamin was asked to provide one of his ‘‘old cars’’ to ferry the guests around the showgrounds in March 1967.

It was only a few months later that Mr Benjamin and fellow members of the Deniliquin Sporting Car Club decided to start a new club specifically for their older cars.

‘‘A lot of us were very interested in cars and already members of the Sporting Car Club, which I’m happy to say also still runs today,’’ Mr Benjamin said.

‘‘The likes of Barry Cockayne, Lex Kirkby and myself felt there was also a place for an older car club that could run alongside it.’’

It was officially formed on December 8, 1967, and Mr Benjamin was elected the group’s first president.

And while he was only an official member until leaving Deniliquin in 1970, Mr Benjamin said he’s always been involved in the group through the friendships he forged in that time.

‘‘I became really good mates with Lex, Richard King, Bill Johnston and Jim Carnie particularly,’’ he said.

‘‘I also remember Richard’s sons bouncing around in the back of my cars from time to time.

‘‘With all the old cars I have owned over the years I think I would have given rides to over 100 adults and children.’’

Mr Benjamin said Keith Burchfield was also instrumental in the formation of the group, very kindly providing their meeting place at his Holden dealership in End St, Deniliquin.

‘‘Keith was a very good supporter of ours, and a keen member,’’ Mr Benjamin recalled.

‘‘He made room in his showroom for us and despite being a very busy man always made time for us.

‘‘He had a ‘T’ Model Ford Roadster at the time — a very nice car.

‘‘Of course as we’ve all grown older our cars have too.

‘‘The cars we all bought new then are now antiques, but the more modern cars meant we could go on longer runs.

‘‘The old cars rattle and talk to you, but they’re good fun.’’

Mr Benjamin said as well as the car club’s displays thrilling the older generations who reminisced about the models being shown, he was also proud to have fostered a love of cars in the younger generations.

Among them was David Lang, who became a member of the group as a child.

‘‘David wandered into my backyard one day, and I got him to help paint the wheels of my car,’’ Mr Benjamin said.

‘‘I had a Bianchi then — an Italian car I bought from the Bayliss family. I think I only paid four long neck bottles of beer for it.’’

Now living in Albury, Mr Benjamin said ill health prevents him from attending this weekend’s celebrations as he had originally planned.

But he said he sent over a film for the current and past members of the club to enjoy as part of tomorrow night’s gala dinner.

‘‘We took a Super 8 film of our first big run to Conargo, which was in September 1968,’’ he said.

‘‘I have been able to have it converted, and I had it sent over to Bruce Wells for the celebration.

‘‘To start we had eight or 10 cars between us; it was never intended to be big, it was a chance to keep our cars alive and have a bit of fun.

‘‘But the little car club has become stronger and stronger. I never thought it would get to 112 members — I thought 25 to 30 at the most.’’

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