Owner Chris Sorenson (left) with the organiser of the 2019 National Veteran Vehicle Rally, Terry Lewis .
Owner Chris Sorenson (left) with the organiser of the 2019 National Veteran Vehicle Rally, Terry Lewis .

Full steam ahead for Sorenson

ONE of the rarest cars in the world now calls Bundaberg home.

Burnett Heads' foreshore offered up a spectacle last Tuesday when a long whistle from a steam engine could be heard.

But what came next was neither on rails nor water.

Instead a car without a steering wheel, windscreen, bonnet or boot came pelting down Sea Esplanade takig care to obey all the traffic rules.

Chris Sorenson was on the tiller, opening and closing valves, pumping air to keep the fuel pressure up, checking gauges and blowing the whistle.

Mr Sorenson was born in Bundaberg and then travelled the world as a marine engineer on steam ships.

In 2010, he bought the 1903 Grout Steam Car in the US and shipped it to London where it took part in the famous London to Brighton Veteran Car Run before being shipped, in 2011, to Bundaberg where it joined Mr Sorenson's collection of eight veteran cars.

The Model J Grout is as rare as it gets.

Mr Sorenson said only two of them were left in the world - one in Pennsylvania, one in Bundaberg.

The Grout is Mr Sorenson's favourite car, not because it's rare, but because it's driven by steam and it is complex.

It has more than 20 valves, as well as water level indicators and control levels that need to be turned, pulled or pumped at the right moment to operate the 10-horsepower steam engine that sits right under the driver seat.

It looks dreadfully complicated but an apprenticeship at Qunaba Sugar Mill back in the sixties and years as engineer on steam ships have provided Chris with enough basic knowledgeto master this machine that seems to have steamed out of a Jules Verne novel.

After London to Brighton, the Grout's next public whistle-stop will be at another famous event: Australia's 2019 National Veteran Vehicle Rally held between September 17 to 23.

This time, no oceans will need to be crossed because the rally will take place in Bargara.

Marc Obrowski