It is with a sad heart that I now pass across the news that Arthur Mullins, a model ‘T’ owner of 79 years ownership, from Parkside, Adelaide, South Australia passed away on Saturday 5th July aged 100.
I first met Arthur in 1983 when I was 16 years old. Greg Mahon, a mutual friend about 7 years older than me owned a 1912 Ford when he was 16. Being a few years younger I spent many club runs with Greg and wanted a 1912 just like Greg. I had heard of an old 1912 tourer owned by the Mullins family was up for sale. The old Ford was a bit ram shackled, but altogether and had been rallied for years. This was just the type of car I was after, especially on 1st year apprenticeship wages. I had high hopes of joining Greg in owning a 1912 Ford.
I tracked down the Mullins household, This was not to hard as the family had lived at the same address since 1943, and his parents next door since 1910. Full of high hopes and a pocket full of coins, I drove myself after tea to chase down the Ford. Arriving at the front door I was greeted by Arthur’s wife Noela. She told me “Arthur is around back in the shed, so mind your way”. I walked down the side of the house and saw the light on. I knocked on the door and asked “Are you Mr. Arthur Mullins with the old Ford for sale?” Arthur got rather upset, told me in no uncertain terms the Ford was not for sale and it was time to leave the premises. That didn’t go as I planned, that is for sure!
Unbeknownst to me the old Ford had become very sad and tired. The car was then being rallied in the Sporting car Club by Arthur’s youngest brother Doug Mullins. They basically said the car was not roadworthy and would they mind leaving it at home. That is how I heard the younger brother Doug could be selling the Ford.
I saw Arthur & Noela infrequently on car runs. I was able to have a very good look at this original old 1912 Ford, but I was a bit tentative talking to Arthur in fear that I may have upset him. That was not the case.
About a year or so later I was in the Ford ‘T’ Register (Chapter of the MTFCA) and was working on my 1925 “Rosella” van. To my surprise Greg Mahon bought Arthur Mullins along to check out the club. Would he remember me? A few meetings later and Arthur joined the “Register”. Yes Arthur did remember me, no he did not hold it against me, and no the car was still not for sale. Phew!
Many years have since flown by, over 30 now I think is the count. We have shared many wonderful moments. Arthur was an avid jam maker and his French Plum jam was good, his Mulberry jam was really good, but his Mulberry & French Plum jam was exceptional. I used to pop over with a bread stick and try and share some of his handiwork. This was OK only if I brought the cream. On a number of occasions Arthur sent me back out to get the cream before a pot of jam could be found.
When I returned from South Africa from a 3½ year work contract I was ‘T’ less. Arthur was still going on runs and asked if I would mind joining him for company. That was an instant “Yes!!!”. I have travelled many miles in his 1912 Ford, mind you, not a patch on the number he has travelled. Slowly over time his driving got more exciting with age. Gradually I would meet Arthur at his house, drive the car to the start of a club run, drive to the outskirts of the city where he would take over. Then later on the return run I would take over once more at the outskirts and drive through town. Over time his driving time became less, my driving time became more. Finally Arthur admitted that driving their Ford was “...a bit much for me now and I like being a passenger.” That is when the 1912 ended up in my shed. We both agreed that I could then do the maintenance required before the outings, I would clean the old thing prior to runs, go and pick up Arthur and we would meet our friends for our club runs. After the runs I would drop Arthur home and bring the Ford home to my place.
This lasted for a while. I don’t quiet remember how or what happened, but Arthur’s children once more became interested in the cars. It was with great pleasure to return the Ford back to Arthur’s house with his family; where is should be and still is to this day.
In my ramblings it is probably a good time to talk about the Ford itself. Arthur bought the car from eminent Adelaide Surgeon Dr. Anstey Giles in 1935 for £5. Dr. Giles bought the Ford new in 1912, engine #109657, body number G1226 to replace his De Dion Bouton and was registered #2265. Dr Giles had a coachman named Tom. According to Arthur is was Tom’s job to keep the car clean and the brass shiny. Tom did a good job because the “Ford” emblems are worn off the headlights. In 1914 Dr. Giles threw a rod and took it to a small repair place in Wyatt Street, Adelaide ran by Merrington Mullins, Arthur’s father. Merrington kept the Ford going, but eventually Dr. Giles bought a Sunbeam to replace the Ford and it fell into disuse. When the first “Old Crocks Run” was organised in May 1934, Dr. Giles let 4 of his medical students from Adelaide University take the car on the run.
In 1935 after the run, Dr. Giles decided to sell the old Ford. He was astounded to find it worth only worth scrap value of £5, the value for the 4 new Michelin tyres; the car itself was worthless. Dr. Giles went to see his old friend Merrington to see if he knew somebody that wanted a good car for the scrap value. Merrington’s son Arthur wanted the car and borrowed some money from his grandmother to help fund the purchase.
Arthur driving the Ford on the farm, c1930's.
Through the Depression the Ford was nothing but a work horse. It was driven over their farm over on Ayer peninsula and used as a farm vehicle. Believe me when she did not have an easy life. In 1947 she broke a crankshaft, the first 2; the second was in 1990. After the war the Ford became a novelty. The Mullins’ children went on many club runs with the Sporting Car Club. The old Ford became shabbier and untidy, eventually the club asked for the Ford to remain at home being not roadworthy.
Delivering tractor tyres around Adelaide. Arthur had to pump them up by hand too, C1940.
Arthur driving the Ford in a local Adelaide car rally in 1951.
Luckily for us the family decided to keep the Ford and give it some much needed tidying up. This was around the 50th Anniversary Rally for the Sporting car Club in 1984. The car has been continually rallied since.
One of Arthur’s other cars is a 1908 Darracq that his father Merrington bought new. In 1914 he took his pregnant wife into hospital a and a couple of weeks later brought Arthur home as a new born. He still has this car too.
Arthur Mullins was a character to say the least. When my own grandfather passed away 10 years ago I found that he was an exceptionally good listener, a very wise man and well versed in the University of Life. He attended numerous rallies including many National Veteran car rallies & Model ‘T ‘Ford Nationals. In 1998 Arthur and I took the 1912 to Geelong. The Ford hadn’t been cleaned for about 2 years, and on the rally we found every puddle and mud hole we could find; the car was filthy. On the Wednesday morning of the fancy dress day everybody else was cleaning and polishing the cars for the lunch time parade. We were sitting out the front of our cabin in the park watching many entrants working very hard indeed. About 10 minutes before the parade we took off all of the lights, added swags and saucepan etc, and came out dressed as Ho-Bo’s!!! We won the Entrants Choice for Best fancy Dress!!
He made the last National Ford ‘T’ Rally last year and family had the 1912 there too. His last outing in the Ford was of May this year when the Ford, with Arthur, took part in the 80th Anniversary Run of the first “Old Crocks Run”.
For his 100th birthday on the 9th June he shared his telegram from both the Australian Governor General & Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
We have lost a valued member of our hobby. At 100 years old may he be at peace and finally reunited with his wife Noela. Thank you for your friendship Arthur, the many miles we travelled through life together. They were wonderful times we shared together and will stay with me until we meet again.
More photos of Arthur Mullins and his Ford.
Doug, the younger brother driving in 1955. Note the new firewall as the original one broke around the steering column.
Arthur on a Ford 'T' Register club run with a puncture, around 1990.
National Ford 'T' Rally in Geelong 1998. Here are the 2 Ho-Bo's, somebody called us "The Lady And Her Tramps"! We won entrants choice for best costume.
What a wonderful tribute to your friend. My condolences on your loss.
Arthur at Mylor in 2011 still driving a model 'T' aged 97.He handed in his driver's licence a few years before and offered that a policeman can't fine him for something he does not have!!!
The old Ford and Arthur as passenger in Adelaide's 2012 "Down Under London to Brighton Run".
Arthur's last outing in his Ford, May 2014.
God Bless his soul and bless his mourning friends and family. Fantastic that he lived so long, and was able to enjoy his hobby so late in life. Something we can all aspire to. May he rest in peace, and enjoy the perpetual Tour in the sky.
We should all be as fortunate as Arthur to be able to enjoy this hobby to age 100, and to have such good friends to enjoy it with.
Thanks for sharing your lovely tribute to your great mate Arthur. You are fortunate to have had such a great Model T friend and mentor. My condolences to yourself and Arthurs family.
What a remarkable man and early car enthusiast. Thank you for sharing his story,
We should all hope to leave behind such a rich legacy. Condolences from Houston.
Wonderful tribute to a wonderful life!
We should all be so blessed.
A wonderful tribute. You have lost a great mate. I know the affection you had for Arthur. I am so pleased that you got to share his 100th celebrations with him.
Very best regards, John & Christine
This morning on a chilly winter's day we said our final good bye to Arthur Mullins. My friend Greg Mahon and I were invited and met the family at Arthur's home at Parkside waiting for the arrival of the beloved 1912 Ford and the hearse. Around the corner came the Arthur's Ford with his 4 children inside. A tear quietly welled in everybody's eyes.
It was a honour and privilege to follow Arthur, his children and his Ford on their final journey together. A model 'T' at the front, 2 at the rear; the last sound he heard were the buzzing of coils. Around 300 friends and relatives gathered at the service to all laugh together, rejoice in an amazing life and say goodbye to one of the gentlest, kindest souls anybody could meet.
Arthur was an amazing writer. His writings were a continual source of joy, laughter and comfort. I will close this post with some of Arthur's own words on life, fittingly posted on his service card.
A Gift Of Life.
When you are born you receive the gift of life. You are too young to understand your gift and usually it’s the parents who have the responsibility to teach their child. To teach them how to eat and sleep and start on the journey of life. Then there is such a lot to learn about life and living life.
I found the hardest things to learn and understand in my life are:
To not forget to say thank you for my gift.
How long will life last?
What will my life contain?
Life is a precious gift, it is fragile and must be handled with care. There is no guarantee on the length of the life granted and it is up to you to fill your life.
Things can and o happen that influence and change your whole thinking and way of life. Like meeting someone to whom you are attracted, then getting married and setting up your own home. Who knows how long your life together will be and what it will contain. A puff of wind and the candle goes out. it is only when life has finished that the whole story is known.
After I had written this I thought that it was nothing like what I had set out to try and do. What I wanted was to tell something of what I had been given and granted over the long life I have lived, the good things I have received and try to say thank you for my gifts.
I had the pleasure of meeting Arthur in 2008. He was and will always be remembered as a true Gentleman
One met you always remembered him. Thank you for sharing Mark.