CHACA - The Beginning
The Classic and Historic Automobile Club of Australia owes it’s inception to a group of people who were interested in the cars of the 1930’s and 40's without requiring them to be expensive, of high performance or built in a particular country. This broad outlook has stood the test of time and continues to this day, enabling the member owning a small inexpensive car to enjoy membersip as much as the owner of the most exotic vehicle built.
In 1965 the Vintage Driver's Club of Victoria appointed Mr Jim Kerr to investigate the formation of a club to cover the era following the vintage dating limitation of December 30th, 1930. Jim was able to contact enough interested people to arrange a series of meetings at his home where the decision was taken to advertise, in The Age newspaper, an exploratory meeting to be held in the Deepdene Park Hall. Of those involved in the prior meetings Jim Kerr, Dennis Walsh, Max Austin and Gordon Wightman agreed to act as a steering committee to form the club.
The public meeting in the Deepdene Park Hall on May 6th, 1966, was attended by some 40 interested persons and confirmed support for the concept of a club catering for vehicles of the 1930’s and up to 1942 when it was generally conceded that the era under consideration had closed due to the Second World War. A number of people even expressed interest in cars of the late 40’s and the 1950’s. Excellent discussion took place regarding the proposed aims of the club and, of course, a name for the club.
Some 20 persons agreed to become members as soon as the fees were established and paper work in place. A clear mandate was given to the Steering committee to draft a constitution, by-laws, find a suitable name for the club and attend to the hundreds of little things that go to make a smooth running organisation. The meeting closed on a pleasant and enthusiastic note with the hat being passed around to raise some funds for the committee to meet expenses. This collection grossed the sum of $15.53 which strangely enough was never used as membership fees soon rolled in at a satisfactory rate.
Following this successful first public meeting, further meetings were held to formulate club policy and operations. The steering committee positions were decided with Dennis Walsh taking up the position of Librarian/Historian; Jim Kerr, that of President; Max Austin as Secretary; and Gordon Wightman, acting as Treasurer/Editor.
At the next meeting on June 6th, there were 15 paid up members who agreed that the organising committee, with the addition of Arthur Blair as Technical Officer, carry on until 3rd November, 1966, the date set for the first Annual Meeting and election of officers. Consideration was given to a list of suggested names for the club, one prerequisite was that the name must contain the words “Of Australia”. After a deal of debate the “Classic and Historic Automobile Club of Australia’ was selected as being the most appropriate and now the club had a name to build on.
(reprint from “Celebrating Thirty Years, 1966-1996, Special Edition Journal”)
by Gordon Wightman