The other Tasman Bridge Holden
years ago, on the night of January 5, 1975, the bulk ore carrier MV Lake Illawarra smashed into Pier 19 of the Tasman Bridge spanning the Derwent River in Hobart.
The roadway collapsed and four cars crossing the bridge dropped 110 feet into the water. Twelve people died, including seven of the crew aboard the ship.
Film of the disaster was shown around the world but it was the two cars stranded on top of the bridge that attracted the most attention. Both had managed to stop (just) resting on their chassis rails with their front wheels dangling over the edge.
The car in the fast lane was a green HQ Monaro GTS owned by Frank and Sylvia Manley, who slowly and carefully escaped from the car to safety. We featured this Monaro in AMC #38 (on page 26). It is still owned by the Manleys who have maintained it in original condition, except for the automatic transmission casing which bore the brunt of the incident.
They displayed it at the National Automobile Museum in Launceston a few years ago.
Recently we discovered that the second car on the bridge, a Holden FB station wagon, is also a survivor. Well, sort of.
The gent who was driving this car that night understandably didn’t want to keep it. He sold it in March 1975 to Robin Tripp who was then working in the same supermarket as Sylvia Manley.
Soon after Robin bought the car he parked it in front of his father’s house when a passing motorist drove into the back of it.
Damage was substantial but Robin decided to have it repaired so bought an EK wagon and virtually stuck the two together. Now only the front half of this car remains from the one that hung over the edge of the Tasman Bridge.
He had the combined unit painted in the original two-tone green FB colours.
He’s since driven this unique vehicle around Australia four times, even on a trip around the world in 1989/1990. Now based in Queensland, Robin still drives to the FB/EK Nationals each year.
Perhaps the most dramatic journey was when he drove it back to Hobart in 2004 and took it over the Tasman Bridge again, nearly thirty years after it its special moment in Australian history.
At the South Australian FB/EK Nationals in 2012.