Recently, a list of the 1911 registration plate numbers’ owners’ (not car makes) for Dunedin became available in private hands. Generously we were advised that my grandfather owned plate number D 18 in 1911 at that time.
We have a family photograph dated Feb 1910 showing the family including the +/- 18 month old baby (my father born 1908) in an unidentified car. We published the family photo 15 years ago in BW247 seeking identification for the vehicle. Only one response, from England suggested that the car was an early Briton. The radiator shape certainly appears this way. But Briton was formed in 1909 as part of the Star (UK) company, and therefore this brand car could not have been here in NZ this early. The advent of digital photo enhancement allowed us to enlarge the photo in 2005, and reading the radiator oval badge was ‘Goodwin & Co, Birmingham’- a non Ferrous Casting company. More puzzles.
In 2013 Mr Google search helped us more. The Goodwin Bros were racing cyclists in the UK in early 1900’s, and for 2 years were (unsuccessful) racing drivers for the Star motor Coy of Wolverhampton. My grandfather was a cash racing cyclist in NZ and South Africa from 1897 to 1903- maybe they met, but more likely is that the Goodwins’ were a UK car sub agent.
Researching in Georgano reference book quotes that Star Motor Company changed and used several brands in 1907-1909. They used Stuart, Starling, Star, Little Starling brands before settling on Star and Briton brands only from 1909. Several vehicle dealers in NZ promoted the Stuart and Star brands before 1908 (refer Papers Past site).
Overall, and interesting history search lasting 15 years and resulting in;-
· The original radiator exists and is in good condition. Bob the current owner is now looking for the rest of the car.
· Unfortunately our family verbal history advised that the car was abandoned mid- stream in the flooded Kaikorai Stream- I hope that is wrong!.
· Many other verbal family stories about the car arriving dismantled in a box are recalled- but no confirmation exists.
· My need/addiction to own a similar Briton version started- and it is a fun car.