Mus­cle Ma­niac

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

Last is­sue we out­lined Gal­la­her’s ef­forts to ig­nite sales of its fail­ing ciggy brands through mo­tor­sport. Lo and be­hold, we’ve since re­ceived a call from a for­mer Gal­la­her sales rep who drove a sil­ver XR GT. His rec­ol­lec­tions and in­sights are fas­ci­nat­ing. Plus a wrap-up of the auc­tion ac­tion.

Last is­sue we out­lined Gal­la­her In­ter­na­tional (Aus­tralia) Ltd’s ef­forts to ig­nite sales of its fail­ing cig­a­rette brands through spon­sor­ship of mo­tor rac­ing. That ef­fort in­cluded ti­tle-spon­sor­ship of the fledg­ling Bathurst 500 pro­duc­tion car race in the mid 1960s and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing sales fleet of Gal­la­her Fal­con XR GTs.

Order­ing eight XR GTs in its cor­po­rate sil­ver and ap­ply­ing Gal­la­her GT King Size Fil­ters sig­nage en­sured its sales reps stood out on the road. But it couldn’t save Gal­la­her’s Aussie oper­a­tions, with the com­pany stubbed out in March 1968, just six months af­ter the ’67 Gal­la­her 500.

We put the call out in that story for ex-Gal­la­her em­ploy­ees, ide­ally one of the reps en­trusted with a sil­ver beast back in ’67, to con­tact us with his rec­ol­lec­tions. Truth be known, we didn’t think we’d hear a peep. Af­ter all, with this all play­ing out 50 years ago, surely cig­a­rette com­pany sales reps were heavy smok­ers and thus un­likely to be still with us in 2017.

Lo and be­hold, we re­ceived a call from for­mer Gal­la­her sales rep Al­lan Scott, 75, soon af­ter is­sue #96 hit newsagen­cies. We are in­debted to his brother, Bruce Scott, who spot­ted our re­quest and pointed Al­lan in our di­rec­tion.

“My brother Bruce is a petrol­head, but I am not. The car I drive now is a Camry, so that re­ally tells it all,” Al­lan laughs. “I was also a non-smoker work­ing for a to­bacco com­pany, but that didn’t seem to worry them when I went for an in­ter­view!

“I’d been over­seas for a cou­ple of years and came back to Aus­tralia in time for Christ­mas ’66 and was look­ing around for a job. In early 1967, I got a job with Gal­la­her.

“The tra­di­tional rep’s car is a sta­tion­wagon and that’s what I had when I started. I was only there a few months when the boss told me to come in Mon­day and pick up my new GT. Any brand new car is great, but these were some­thing else. It was a lot of fun to drive and they were well ap­pointed in­side.”

Al­lan says the cars turned heads wher­ever they went.

“Ev­ery sales rep with a ter­ri­tory had one of these sil­ver Fal­cons and the idea was that there would be one in ev­ery ter­ri­tory in Syd­ney to get max­i­mum ex­po­sure. My ter­ri­tory was the in­ner west – New­town, Mar­rickville, Can­ter­bury, etc. When the TV cam­paign started, that made the con­nec­tion with the prod­uct, which led into the Gal­la­her 500 at Bathurst.

“The whole sales staff went up to Bathurst for the 500 and I re­mem­ber be­fore the race us eight sales reps driv­ing the eight Fal­cons around the track with tens of thou­sands of peo­ple cheer­ing us. It was hi­lar­i­ous; a real eye-opener.

“We all stayed at Lith­gow in a mo­tel and drove up to Bathurst.

“I re­mem­ber at one func­tion we were at, the Mayor of Bathurst and the gen­eral manager of Gal­la­her were slap­ping each other on the back and declar­ing that it was all go­ing to be big­ger and bet­ter next year and that Gal­la­her was go­ing to build a fac­tory at Bathurst, blah, blah, blah, bull­shit, bull­shit, bull­shit...

“I re­mem­ber on an­other day tak­ing all the cars out to War­wick Farm for a mo­tor race.

“The Fal­con was a lot of fun to drive; the job was a lot of fun. Once I drove it out to Dubbo and be­tween Welling­ton and Dubbo I looked down at the speedo and I was do­ing 100 – that’s 100 miles per hour – and it wasn’t a big deal on a straight road with no traf­fic. I had no in­ten­tion of do­ing it.”

Cruis­ing in a grand tourer at high­speed be­tween ru­ral cen­tres is not the only as­pect of Al­lan’s job that was an ac­cepted prac­tice in the 1960s that’s long been con­sid­ered anti-so­cial.

“A lot of pro­mo­tional work we did in­volved hang­ing out and drink­ing. And we had to get these cars back home with grog un­der your belt. When you look back at those pre-RBT times you shake your head, but that

was the cul­ture of the time. We did it be­cause every­one did it.”

Al­lan con­firms that the sil­ver Gal­la­her XR GTs had ex­tra se­cu­rity fea­tures over the reg­u­lar mod­els.

“You had to carry your sam­ples, point-of-sale stuff, signs and some stock. So the Fal­con had a big boot so that was good and the eight cars had alarmed locks on the rear three-quar­ter pan­els where the boot was, long be­fore cars had alarms. You might have five grand’s worth of fags in the back so they were alarmed in case the cars were bro­ken into. So when­ever you opened the boot you had to turn the alarm off and then turn it back on when you shut it.”

Gal­la­her’s pro­mo­tional ef­forts sound like a recipe for sales suc­cess, but the re­al­ity was dif­fer­ent, Al­lan says.

“Gal­la­her was a ma­jor Bri­tish to­bacco com­pany. By the time they de­cided to start up oper­a­tions in Aus­tralia, the brands that made them rich in the UK, like Ben­son & Hedges, were al­ready li­censed here to other com­pa­nies. For some rea­son they were de­ter­mined to get into the Aus­tralian mar­ket, but be­cause they didn’t have any brands they had to in­tro­duce or in­vent new ones to the mar­ket – like Gal­la­her, which no­body bought.

“Money didn’t seem to be a prob­lem as they bought a site in Ry­dalmere and built a fac­tory that made cig­a­rettes. There was an ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing too. The com­pany must have haem­or­rhaged money from day one.

“They had sent an English­man out to run it, a charm­ing Pom, full of bull­shit. The mar­ket­ing whiz kids from the ad agency con­vinced him to build the brand around mo­tor rac­ing – which Gal­la­her al­ready had a con­nec­tion with via spon­sor­ing the Bathurst race – and would ap­peal to young peo­ple and the revheads. So the advertising whizkids came up with the GT con­cept.

“The idea was to con­nect these sil­ver beasts with the TV cam­paign and the race spon­sor­ship. The TV ads had young peo­ple smok­ing Gal­la­her in Monte Carlo. It was all good in the­ory, but it didn’t work. It was all too crude and the young peo­ple didn’t ‘buy it’ all and there­fore didn’t buy Gal­la­her cig­a­rettes. They could see through it all, they thought it was bull­shit and they were right. The car en­thu­si­asts didn’t race out and buy the cig­a­rettes be­cause they thought they’d look like dick­heads if they did.”

The Monte Carlo-theme may not have con­nected with the tar­get au­di­ence but it did ap­peal to one mar­ket niche.

“Iron­i­cally, one of the best out­lets for cig­a­rettes sales in my ter­ri­tory was the can­teen at Prince Al­fred Hospi­tal be­cause all the nurses used to smoke like chim­neys. We sold thou­sands there.”

Al­lan worked for the com­pany for a year and got to drive Gal­la­her’s other pro­mo­tional car – one bet­ter re­flect­ing the Monte Carlo life­style im­age it was try­ing to cul­ti­vate.

“Gal­la­her also bought a red Fer­rari GT model for use in in-store pro­mo­tions. That was an ex­am­ple of the money they threw at it all. It was quite a fun place to work. Es­pe­cially when you’re 25 and the boss tells you, as part of a pre-Christ­mas shopfront pro­mo­tion, to drive the Fer­rari from Ry­dalmere to Bathurst.

“All good things have to come to an end, though. It was wild ride and be­fore long the party ended.”

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