Meanwhile in Perth
marking the end of Aussiebuilt Holdens weren’t confined to the Holden Dream Cruise in Elizabeth. Red Lion enthusiasts across the country dipped their lids to their favourite brand’s passing as a local manufacturer.
In Perth, more than a dozen members of the Holden Car Club of WA made their way to the former site of GM-H’s Mosman Park assembly plant in the week of Elizabeth’s shutdown. Among the 14 classic Holdens that congregated on the old Mosman Park site were five vehicles built at that very spot.
Iona Presentation Primary School sits on that site today and the school’s principal granted the club permission to park the cars on the sports field. The ‘Kodak moment’ was the brainchild of club member Craig Poole, who dropped AMC a line pre-event to gauge this magazine’s interest in running images of the special get-together. When we gave Craig the two thumbs up sign, he went into overdrive.
“I had a couple of mates already lined up, but then more and more blokes were keen to come along. My phone didn’t stop ringing in the days leading up to it.
“Through a third party, who knew one of the teachers, Gabrielle Groves, the school was approached for permission to shoot on the grounds on the Sunday – we were welcomed with open arms. It was really pleasing to know that the school was aware of the site’s history and was keen to embrace what we were doing.
“To have five Mosman Park-built cars present for the occasion was great. Where these five cars and the other nine were parked up for photos was right slap-bang where the factory floor was located. That was pretty cool.”
Those five Perth-built cars ranged from a pair of 48-215s, owned by Len Douglas (black) and Phil Litchfield (cream), to Brad Purcell’s HG Kingswood. Also on hand were an FJ (Syd Griffiths) and a HK Premier (Michael Fitzgerald).
General Motors (Australia) opened the Mosman Park plant in 1926. Around 200 workers assembled the parts that had been shipped from South Australia and Victoria, producing cars for the WA market. General Motors (Australia) merged with Holden Motor Body Builders in 1931 to become General Motors-Holden Limited. The factory struggled once the Great Depression hit, but received a new lease of life during World War II manufacturing aircraft wings and other military components, vehicles and vessels. Normal operations at the plant resumed following the war, with Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles, La Salles, Vauxhalls, Buicks, Chevrolets, Bedfords and Holdens all assembled on site.
The plant closed in 1972, a result of GM-H’s centralised production drive. The last car built at Mosman Park was a HQ SS.
None of the original buildings remain, the last of the original structures – part of a factory wall – was knocked down to redevelop the school’s sports centre. Its replacement (pictured) was rebuilt in the same colour and to the same height.
An article in the RAC WA’s magazine outlined one ‘unique to Mosman Park’ task performed at the factory – patching bullet holes in bodywork from when bored stockmen on the Nullarbor took pot shots at trains carrying shells and panels bound for Perth...