Muscle Mail AMC BEST LETTER
The reader’s letter that is judged to be the best in each issue will win a Meguiar’s detailing pack. – thus obtaining the preferential import tariff treatment that was then afforded to Commonwealth countries.
There used to be two assembly lines at Marrickville:
1.The first line uncrated the Completely Knocked Down imported parts, then riveted the chassis rails together and installed the engines, gearboxes, steering columns and wheels.
2. Meanwhile, a second line fitted the Holden bodies with wiring, seat upholstery and other local content. The bodies were then dropped onto the chassis and the final inspections were completed. The newly assembled automobiles were then released to franchised Chevrolet, Pontiac and Cadillac dealers for sale.
The GM factory provided ‘courtesy cars’ for Charles Kingsford Smith and his crew of the Southern Cross after their successful 1928 Trans-Pacific Flight – and it was this plant that presented Don Bradman with a maroon Chevrolet Roadster after his triumphant 1930 Ashes test tour of England.
The Great Depression led to a catastrophic collapse in Holden body production, from over 34,000 units in 1930 to only 1651 units just one year later. General Motors wound down operations at Marrickville in 1931 and purchased Holden Motor
Iparticularly enjoy the ‘geography’ stories, such as the Sacred Sites series and also the visit to the site of Leyland’s Zetland plant in the Force 7 feature last year.
I’d love to read a series telling the stories of significant old car factories. For instance, I was staggered by the changes at GM-H’s historic Dandenong site last time I visited. In contrast, I was surprised to find that Holden’s huge Marrickville plant is remarkably untouched at the northern end, despite being repurposed as a tobacco warehouse!
The story of Salmon Street, Port Melbourne deserves to be told, starting with the original 1936 GM-H site at Fishermans Bend (where GM’s WWII armaments foundry was converted for local engine production) and then progressing southward via the 1960’s Technical Centre (where the Hurricane and GTR-X were built) to the present administration building/museum at No. 191, constructed during Peter Hannenberger’s time as head honcho.
You may want to consider the old General Motors manufacturing plant in Marrickville, which still stands on Carrington Road. General Motors commenced production with great optimism in October 1926. I have attached a picture of what it looked like when it was opened by the Premier of NSW, Jack Lang. Note the flags over the front door from USA, Australia and England. Over 400 people were employed to produce up to 70 cars per day.
Car bodies constructed of steel skins over wooden frames were shipped by rail from Holden’s body factory in Woodville, near Adelaide. Meanwhile, engines and chassis component parts kits were shipped in from GM’s factory in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada Body Builders the same year, merging it with General Motors (Australia) Pty Ltd to form General Motors-Holden’s Ltd (GM-H). Production moved to Pagewood in 1936. The Carrington Road building was subsequently taken over by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA). It is now a clothing warehouse.
Most of the original art deco themed facade is still visible at the original site and a huge picture of Smithy’s Southern Cross still hangs in the stairwell.
I stumbled onto some of the story on Marrickville Council’s website, and the rest I pieced together from Sir Laurence Hartnett’s autobiography Big Wheels and Little Wheels. Larry was GM-H managing director, from 1934 to 1946.
I captured images when I visited the Carrington Road site last year, but Marrickville Council has no attribution for the photograph taken on the 1926 opening day.
Anthony Boddy Pennant Hills, NSW