Ces still muscles up at 94

PROUD OWNER: Ces with his recent prize purchase. a 1957 Chevy coupe.
PROUD OWNER: Ces with his recent prize purchase. a 1957 Chevy coupe. Francis Witsenhuysen

CES Sempf of Gatton always wanted to live to the age of 100 and at 94, he's not far off honouring his pledge.

In his life Ces has been a farmer, a mechanical engineer, businessman, writer and car enthusiast, among many other things.

Proving he is still running on all cylinders, he revealed he was half way through his autobiography and had recently purchased a new "muscle car".

"It's a '57 Chevy coupe two-door, a very rare model," Ces said.

"It's from California and it's got an immobiliser switch so no-one can pinch it."

Ces has always been enthralled by anything with moving, mechanical parts and spoke fondly of building things from scratch as a boy.

"I built a steam boat when I was 12 with a little 25ml propeller on it and I used to sail it across the dam," he said.

"Dad taught me how to use a soldering iron and how to cut it all out.

"I built a drilling rig and other things too. I could make anything, it just came natural to me."

But it was a bicycle accident at the age of 17 that put Ces' hobby into the lucrative business of engineering farm machinery, namely the famous Sempf Tractors.

"I fractured my hip, doing something silly on a bicycle," Ces said.

"The doctors said I had arthritis but later I found out I had osteitis of the hip."

Finally Ces went to a bone specialist Dr. Meehan and had an operation.

"That bloke saved my life, he was a brilliant bone surgeon," Ces said.

Ces went on to recall how not long after, Dr Meehan was brutally assassinated in 1955.

"The sad thing was a German immigrant had a bad back and he went to Dr Meehan and a few other doctors in Brisbane," Ces said.

"Because they couldn't find what the problem was, he went berserk, bought a revolver and shot and killed Dr Meehan and Dr Murray.

"Dr Gallagher survived, because he didn't cop the bullet in the wrong place.

"Then he threatened to kill another orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Lahz, before bombing his surgery and shooting himself in the head.

"That was something I will never forget."

Ces was born and raised in the Lockyer Valley on a number of farms.

He went on to later work on the land in the South Burnett district and in Redland Bay.

"My parents lived about two and half miles from Forest Hill," Ces said.

"Then dad bought a big farm, about 180 acres at Lockrose in 1931. I went to school at Forest Hill till I was 14, and left because I didn't want to get into long pants," Ces chuckled.

In 1957 Ces had a workshop in Brighton, Brisbane, where he made his first Sempf Row vision tractor, a tricycle row-crop machine.

"We moved to Gatton in 1961 and I bought a big wooden shed up opposite the school,"

"I had all the equipment so I got stuck into it. I had two orders for tractors as soon as I got here."

Sempf Tractors were manufactured in Gatton for the next 20 years.

Ces also made products like spud skeleton wheels, boom sprayer attachments, a high-clearance self-propelled boom sprayer and special-purpose self-propelled transplanters with tandem drive wheels in four and seven row versions.

"I made about 100 machines over 30 odd years."

Ces recalled living in Brighton, Brisbane because his wife, Esme was from Sandgate.

"I met my little Esme in Brisbane, we were introduced," Ces said.

"We courted for nine months and got married on October 29, 1949.

"We were married for nearly 64 years and had two boys together.

"Shane's an engineer down in Melbourne, and Lyle is a civil engineer and lives in Gatton."

Topics:  editors picks gatton muscle cars

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