Thursday, 21 March 2019

A super-rare car to make its Cronulla debut

An extremely rare car in Australia will make its debut at our Sunday 14th April Car Show in Cronulla. The car is a 1915 Monroe. A US-built car, closely associated with Chevrolet, that was never sold or marketed in Australia. 

And this 104-year-old car rather ironically is tucked away in a garage right here in the Sutherland Shire - only a couple of kilometres from our Car Show venue in the Cronulla Mall.

Above: Here's an example of what the 1915 Monroe Roadster looks like.
Shire local, Ian Bourke will bring his Monroe to our Show in April 2019

Sutherland Shire local and vintage car enthusiast, Ian Bourke owns the vehicle.

Monroe - a brand not at all well known in Australia - so you may well raise the question - what exactly is a Monroe? 

Monroes were first built in late 1914 in Flint, Michigan in the Chevrolet No.2 plant, which was the former Imperial Wheel plant. The same factory where the Chevrolet Classic 6 was built.

One small claim to fame to Monroe actually has is that in the early 20th Century they had a major Motorsports win. Gaston Chevrolet raced and won at Indianapolis in 1920 driving a Monroe with an average speed of 88mph. Not many of us were around in 1920 to see that famous win!

Here's Ian Bourke's actual 1915 Monroe vehicle.
It graced the cover of the February 2019 edition of the
Veteran Car Club of Australia [NSW]'s Spit & Polish magazine.

The Monroe company president was RF Monroe, and the Vice-president was WC Durant. There was a cross stock-holding arrangement between Monroe and the Chevrolet companies.

1915 era advertisement for the
Monroe Roadster

The Monroe's final design was a cross between the 1914 Royal Mail and the 1913 Little Four, and shared many of the engineering features on the Royal Mail, and descended from the Little and Whiting. 

The engine was manufactured in the Mason engine plant, another company linked to Monroe Vice-president Durant. 

The Monroe Body Company in Pontiac, Michigan built the bodies for many early model Chevrolets. The Monroe Body Company was eventually taken over and absorbed into Cadillac.

The Monroe vehicle was included in all of the printed Chevrolet sales literature of the time and was sold through US Chevrolet Dealer network as an extension to the Chevrolet range, and it was tactfully lower priced than the Baby Grand and the Royal Mail. 

Ian Bourke's 1915 Monroe way back when he first set eyes on 
it in Cleveland, Ohio in 2001. It's come a long way 18-years later to 
make the cover of Spit & Polish magazine.

In a trade-off for factory space, the Monroe company moved from Flint, Michigan to Pontiac, Michigan in 1916. Then, just two short years later in 1918, the company collapsed and subsequently changed owners a few times in the next few years, then ceased production all together in 1923. 

Early 1915 advertising for the Monroe Roadster.

So while no Monroes were ever sold here in Australia they are very closely related to Chevrolet, and share a lot of design and parts with pre-General Motors branded Chevrolets.

Ian Bourke will be displaying his car with a little bit of 'spit and polish' on the tiles of the Cronulla Mall on Sunday 14th April, 2019. Just one more good reason to make sure you don't miss our very unique Show full of remarkable and unique vehicles.

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