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Ken Moss 5th June 1923 - 16th December 1997

Who was Ken Moss and why do we honour him?

The late Ken Moss was a Cadillac owner and driver for 46 years after buying his first Cadillac in 1951. This claim alone may be unique in Australia. Ken had restored two early Cadillacs (1912 and 1927) and was well advanced on a third (1903) before there were any one-make car clubs in Australia to support such an interest.

In the 1990s we take for granted the world of hobby-related services, products and networking, but in Australia in the 1950s and 60s, there were no swap meets, no old-car magazines, no restoration businesses, no importers of old cars or parts, sources of parts or information were obscure, and fellow hobbyists could discover each other only by attending annual rallies and shows.Image

Having restored his 1912 Cadillac "Maybelline" in this vacuum, Mossie took the car and his family from Sydney to the USA in 1965. This was a major undertaking at the time, and would require no small dedication even today. Mossie had contacted the Cadillac La Salle Club Inc in the USA (founded 1958) and the SS Oriana with the Moss family aboard was met at the pier by a dozen US Club members who helped them begin their epic tour. Ken drove the family from southern California to Detroit to visit the Clark Avenue Cadillac plant, not far from where his 1912 car was built.

On a Queensland rally in the recently-restored Maybelline in 1959, Ken had met Dave Fiechtner from Toowoomba, Queensland, who had several four-cylinder Cadillacs restored and driving. Dave actually loaned Ken some parts with which to make his car complete for its US tour. Later Ken met another Cadillac restorer, Henry Formby from Drouin, Victoria, who had restored another 1912 model. After his return from the US, Ken thought over the idea of forming a club especially for Cadillac owners in Australia, along the same lines as the American club that had given him so much help and provided its members with benefits and friendships. Ken, Henry and Dave had all been active members of the Veteran Car Club for years, and were familiar with the advantages of belonging to a body of like-minded people. When presented with the idea of forming a club for Cadillac owners, Henry and Dave were keen, and started looking around for interested potential members.

Eventually, Ken sent out 35 letters to all known owners of early Cadillacs, and an inaugural meeting was held at Carlingford (Sydney) in March 1970. The meeting was chaired by Ken Moss and unanimously agreed to form a Cadillac club then and there. Ken was of course elected its first President, a position he was to hold for six years.

Mossie was by no means an absentee executive. During his presidency and for twenty years afterwards, Ken was on all committees to plan events and produce the quarterly magazine, etc, he did all the running around and picking-up and dropping-off, he stood in queues at the post office, he made all the phone calls, arranged all the trophies, met all visitors to Sydney from interstate and overseas (and accommodated many of them at his home), made his home and his holiday shack available for any meetings or outings, represented the Cadillac La Salle Club on the committees of GM Day and CVVTMC, approached GM-H Public Relations man Marc McInnes and sparked his interest and support for our hobby, and personally did a hundred other jobs that led to the success of our Club as the finest in the world. Does any Club treasurer of the past 27 years remember getting any request for reimbursement from Mossie for Club-related phone calls, postage, beer, or anything else? I doubt it.

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Everyone liked and respected Ken; even those who couldn't stand each other always stood by Ken. He was genuinely enthusiastic (some would say "obsessed") with no hidden agenda. He just wanted people to enjoy their Cadillacs as much he did his. He expected nothing in return, but hoped for more Cadillacs to be actively used in the Club. He gave and gave and gave unlimited time, parts, tyres, books, even money. He loaned valuable old books and sometimes didn't get them back. But he continued to loan. He gave untold numbers of parts to anyone who had the model Cadillac that they would fit. He gave phone advice to Cadillac owners from all over Australia. He talked to everyone in the Cadillac hobby, and consequently was the best-informed Club rep ever.

He visited the USA in 1965, 1981, 1983, 1989, and 1992, meeting Cadillac company Presidents, executives and workers, retired and current, and earning the admiration and friendship of all US Cadillac Club directors.

Mossie personally welcomed every new NSW Cadillac Club member, often sounding them out for skills with which they could assist the Club. Do you remember your first meeting with Mossie? Does anyone remember Mossie ignoring them at meetings or outings? Did Mossie ever forget your name, or your children's names or your grandchildren's names? (now how did he do that?)

He attended every CLC outing, usually bringing at least two cars to major display days. He entertained with jokes for every occasion, and he encouraged, supported, even conned people into achieving their goals.

Ken Moss was not just a keen Cadillac man - he was the keenest Cadillac man ever, witness his Leland trophy presented in 1992 by the Cadillac Division of General Motors in far-off Detroit, and the text of the nomination letter (written by number 3 son-in-law Greg Waller) that General Motors had etched into a brass plaque, framed and sent to Mossie in Australia. Mossie has been the only person living outside the USA to receive the Leland trophy, perhaps the most prestigious trophy awarded in the old-car hobby anywhere in the world.

Now you know a little of why we honour Ken Moss. All who knew him know there will never be anyone to replace him.

Peter Ratcliff