Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Paul's 1959 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible

For many years a familiar sight around Sydney in red, Paul's Eldorado Biarritz has now been restored and returned to it's original colour of Persian Sand (below)

This car  is believed to be the only factory triple-Persian Sand, bucket seat fully optioned 1959 Biarritz known to exist. It has a very interesting history as documented below by Paul:
 
  • First Owner - Howard Merhar (I have the original factory 'Warranty Book' with his name).
  • Merhar - Slavic background
  • From Butte, Montana where he bought the car from Barclay Motors in December 1958 (documented in the Warranty Book)
  • Merhar Owned two 'supper clubs' in Butte Montana - Howie's Supper Club and The Leggitt Supper Club
  • Butte was a wealthy town in the 'copper belt', one of the richest areas of America at the time. Many 'Copper Kings' who dug mines made their fortunes.
  • Many Irish and Slavic immigrants flocked there to work in the mines, as did their dad - and hence the Slavic name 'Merhar'
  • Howard moved to Las Vegas in the mid 1960s to open a casino with a partner.
  • Casino did not do so well and folded.
  • Got a job at the International Hotel as slot manager
  • The International was bought by Conrad Hilton and became The Las Vegas Hilton.
  • Howard became Casino manager of the Las Vegas Hilton
  • Traded in for a new Cadillac Eldorado convertible every year.
  • Sister, Mary Lou and Tony Santino dated in 1959 and remember Howard's pink 1959 Eldorado convertible with the 2 separate seats (bucket seats) in the front.
  • Promise to go through their photo album to find photos of Howie and all his Cadillacs - hopefully with a pic or two of my car when he owned it.
  • Howard died on April 6, 2000
  • Howard traded it in with Barclay Motors on the new 1960 Eldorado Biarritz convertible.
  • The car was then imported to Australia in 1960 by Julian Sterling of Melbourne.
  • Bought by Charlie Pirotta, a wealthy Maltese who migrated to Australia in 1948.
  • Charlie paid 8,000 pounds for the car in 1960, at a time when an average Melbourne house was around 6,000 pounds. Joe Pirotta, Charlie's son, was 22 years old at the time and has verified all these accounts.
  • Charlie spent 10,000 pounds to convert the car to right-hand-drive. All up, the car cost Charlie 18,000 pounds.
  • In 1963 Charlie sold to Bruce Terry for 3,500 pounds. Bruce Terry was a young car dealer at the time. Today he is a wealthy Melbourne property-developer (The Terry Group) with 85 classic and exotic cars in his collection. He lives in Brighton, Melbourne 
  • Bruce sold the car 3 months later to Ken Martin, a Melbourne fire-arms dealer. Bruce sold on a Thursday. The following night, they agreed to go out in the car and pick up some girls. They ended up at Martin's place for a party .Bruce Terry recalls leaving the house around 12:00 midnight. An hour later, Martin took a gun and blew his brains out.
  • From there, the trail of the car goes cool, but shortly after, the car ended up in Sydney at Christies Car Yard on Parramatta Road around 1964.
  • From Christie's the car was bought by Theo Morris, a well-known property developer and hotel owner, who owned the Carrington Hotel in The Blue Mountains.
  • Myth has it (from several sources) that Theo Morris was shot at through the windscreen of the car. The car was sent to O'Brien's Glass awaiting a new imported windscreen - where Morris offered the car for sale to anyone who would pay for the windscreen costs and the storage costs. But this story is more myth than fact. Morris was actually returning from Wollongong at 'triple-carburettor' speed when a passing semi-trailer' shot' a stone straight through the windscreen glass. Theo would tell enquirers it was like a 'bullet hit the glass', and one story led to another...
  • The car was sold in 1974 by Steve Vass, a King's Cross coffee shop owner who was looking after the car for his friend Theo Morris at the time, to Keith Deen of Brisbane (the well-known Deen Brothers of Brisbane) around 1974. Deen says he bought the car for $2,500 dollars cash. Theo says Vass told him he got just $2,000 for the car. These events and facts have been verified in February 2006 by Theo Morris and Keith Deen.
  • During the time with the Deen's the car was used in the movie of Dawn Fraser's life. Her manager drives around in the car in the film. The movie is occasionally shown on late night TV.
  • Keith Deen sold the car to Bill Horward of Stawell, Victoria in 1980 for $6,000.
  • The car lay in a barn for 4 years.
  • Guido Vella, the nephew of original Australian owner, Charlie Pirotta, decided he wanted to own the car he fell in love with when he was a boy. Horwood said he would 'never sell'.
  • Vella turned up at his house with a 'substantial amount of cash in a bag'. The car was sold for an unknown, undisclosed sum.
  • The car was in poor shape. Guido Vella undertook a 2 year restoration. He painted the car red, and chromed almost anything he could find that was chromable (though not chromed by the factory). Example, chrome rocker covers, chrome belt-pulleys, chrome door hinges, chrome oil cap, chrome hood hinges, chrome hood locks, chrome brackets....even chrome piping in the seat upholstery.
  • Guido only drove the car 300 miles in 8 years.
  • Around 1993, Guido offered the car for sale, because he never used it.
  • I bought the car on February 14, 1994. I drove the car from Melbourne to Sydney (to Guido's horror) and used it as a daily driver with YEEHAH number plates until 2002.
  • I started a re-restoration in February 2002.
  • The restoration was completed in mid 2005.
  • The car has been restored to all the factory specs, ordered originally by the first owner, Howard Merhar (triple Persian Sand)....and conversion back to factory left hand drive.
  • The car now lives happily on the Gold Coast.
 This is a truly special car. Unique in the world, with a unique history to match.