Slice of motoring history for students

A group of Eden Marine High School students will get the chance to share in a piece of Australia’s history, as they work on restoring a 1923 5CV Citroen.

Over 80 years ago, the vehicle commonly referred to as the ‘little lemon’ because of its yellow colour, became the first car to circumnavigate Australia.

Now with the help of the Sapphire Coast Historic Vehicle Club’s mentoring program, six students will set about restoring the car from scratch.

Eden Marine High School teacher Steve Huff has run the program for the past six years, and says it teaches students invaluable skills as they move towards finding a career.

“Most of the kids that do it are kids that aren’t planning on going through to Year 12, or if they are, they’re the ones that are looking for an apprenticeship,” Mr Huff said.

“Through the program, they learn quite a few skills that will hopefully help them gain employment.

“There have been a few who have been involved over the years that have gone on and got mechanics apprenticeships.”

Since starting roughly 10 years ago, the program has also helped to keep students enrolled in the school, and helped teach much more than just how to tighten a screw.

“As much as anything else, it gives them an interest and keeps them at school, and just gives them a bit of an alternative to school,” Mr Huff said.

“We do use it from time to time with kids who are struggling to stay out of strife at school, and the arrangement with the kids is that if they can stay out of trouble, then they come here.

“It also gives them some communication skills; we had a Filipino boy who came out here last year, and part of the aim of the project with him was to get him talking and improve his English skills.”

Bill Crowther has seen the program evolve from day one, and says the current project is one of the most exciting he has seen come through the workshop doors.

The students are divided into two teams, with the teams travelling to the club on alternate Mondays to take part in the program, guided by four or five club members.

Bill said the project is slated to take up most of the schooling year, with the aim of having the car complete by the start of the Eden Whale Festival in October.

“We got the car from a fellow in Cooma, and I’d say there would only be a few of them left in Australia,” Bill said.

“We like to get hold of a project that starts from the ground up, and that’s been the case with everything we’ve done so far.

“Last year, we did a Datsun 1500 and sold it for $2000, which raised enough to buy the parts and cover the costs involved in this one.

“I think the students realise they’re working on something fairly unique.”

Currently nothing more than a pile of parts, there is a lot of work ahead for the team.

But while it may be daunting to an outsider, Bill said the prospect of restoring a historic car is usually anything but.

“I think they’re more keen to see it go than anything,” he said.

“We show them photographs of what the final thing looks like, and try to get it running.

“Usually by the end of the year, we’ve got it running, and they can drive it around here, which gives them a big kick.”

Year 10 students Cody Schroeder and Christopher Love would love nothing more than to take the finished product for a spin.

Cody is back for his second year in the program, having worked on several projects last year.

“I did mixed stuff last year,” he said.

“We worked on an electric car and the Datsun we had here, and did a few billy carts as well.”

And while relatively new to the program, Christopher is ready and raring to get the Citroen back on the road.

“It’s going to be a bit of a challenge for us I reckon,” he said.

“I might want to get into (being a mechanic), so it’s good to learn how to use different sorts of tools.

“It teaches us new skills that will hopefully help us get jobs.”

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