FRANK Puglia’s earliest memories of his grandfather’s rare Chevrolet 4 was of it under a lilac tree at his nana’s Wanneroo property, where it sat for more than 20 years.
In 2002, the Sinagra resident spent six hard months restoring the vintage truck to its original state, launching the project on his mum’s birthday and finally starting it up Christmas Eve.
“My mum was always the one that pushed me, because I was a mechanic, to get it restored and unfortunately she died before I got it restored,” he said.
“I did it in record time; from a rusted old thing, you couldn’t even recognise to the finished product.
“Everyone thought I was crazy so I ended up doing it on my own; a lot of work went in to it. I was Santa Claus in it.
“It was a Santa truck on December 24, 2002.”
Frank, whose grandparents Steve and Kata Chokolich were one of the first pioneering families recognised in 1979, has lent the historical gem to the Wanneroo Regional Museum for 18 months.
Steve bought the Chevrolet 4 new in 1928, which was used by the Wanneroo Road Board to carry food and refreshments to functions.
“It was the first truck ever to be employed by the Wanneroo Road Board to cart groceries up to Yanchep Inn, Moore River and all those isolated places, and the Wanneroo Roads Board hired my grandfather to cart all the groceries up north of Wanneroo,” Frank said.
“So it was bought brand new in Perth and it was licensed in Wanneroo, one of the very first lot of trucks that were licensed in Wanneroo. The number plates I’ve got on it now is 19 WN whereas it was WN 19 before.
“My grandfather designed the actual body for it in Perth and it was built in Perth in 1928 so it’s a very rare truck.
“No one has any information on it because all the others were a different type of cab; they were C-Cabs and this is a H-Cab.”
It has remained in the family since Steve’s death in 1934.
Frank said a negative of the truck, brought home from Croatia by his cousin, had helped him rebuild it.
“That’s the only way I could restore it to its original condition; without that photograph no one could remember what it looked like or anything,” he said.
“My uncle Jack, who used to drive it, was my mum’s brother. When I took it to him, I’ve never seen such a smile on someone’s face, he reckons that’s exactly what she looked like when she was new.”
Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts said the City and Wanneroo Regional Museum were proud to be entrusted with such a significant historical and cultural item.
“The City is eager to investigate the possibility of safely housing the truck at Cockman House to give residents the opportunity to view and appreciate this magnificent vehicle,” she said.
The vintage truck is currently being kept securely and will be on display to the public at the next Buckingham House open day on October 11 from 1 to 4pm.