DRIV­ING TO DIS­TRAC­TION

AUS­TRALIAN CARS OF THE PAST

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Memories With Ivor James & Friends -

Par­don me if I am dis­tract­ing you from all the other won­der­ful and in­for­ma­tive con­tent in this great pub­li­ca­tion but I have been dis­tracted by the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try in Aus­tralia. If you thought that the Holden was the first and only Aus­tralian car then I think that you may have to think again.

Have you ever heard of the “Aus­tralian 6” a car man­u­fac­tured at the Syd­ney sub­urb of Ash­field be­tween 1919 and 1925? This car was sold through­out Aus­tralia and New Zealand dur­ing that pe­riod and was ex­tremely pop­u­lar.

How­ever the first car made in Aus­tralia was the “Phaeton” in 1896. It was not petrol driven but a steam car which av­er­aged a speed of 8.7mph on a trip from Bathurst to Mel­bourne over a dis­tance of 493 miles. The first petrol driven car built in Aus­tralia was the “Tar­rant” built in Mel­bourne by Har­ley Tar­rant & Howard Lewis. Over the en­su­ing years the part­ner­ship built many dif­fer­ent mod­els of the “Tar­rant”

Get­ting into more re­cent liv­ing mem­ory, Sir Lau­rence Harnett who has been called the “Fa­ther of the Holden” and was Manag­ing Di­rec­tor of Gen­eral Mo­tors-Holden back in the 1930s was re­spon­si­ble for the developmen­t of the Holden which was even­tu­ally re­leased in 1948. Sir Lau­rence had a dis­tin­quished ca­reer in the Aus­tralian mo­tor in­dus­try, but apart from the Holden, Sir Lau­rence also had some in­volve­ment with two other Aus­tralian au­to­mo­biles nei­ther of which were pro­duced by GM-H. He first cre­ated the “Harnett” and later went into a part­ner­ship with a Ger­man based au­to­mo­bile man­u­fac­turer to pro­duce the “Lloy­dHar­nett” in Aus­tralia. Sir Lau­rence was also in­flu­en­tial in the es­tab­lish­ment of the avi­a­tion in­dus­try in Aus­tralia but that is per­haps yet an­other story.

I now go back a few decades and back to Ade­laide where Holden first started. Ear­lier I wrote that the first car made in Aus­tralia was the “Phaeton”. This was pro­duced in Mel­bourne in 1896. Ac­cord­ing to a 1926 Trove ar­ti­cle, a David Shearer of Man­num in South Aus­tralia, also in 1896, man­u­fac­tured a mo­tor ve­hi­cle that trav­elled at a speed of 15mph, but in­stead of going into production of mo­tor ve­hi­cles he de­cided to con­cen­trate of the production of agri­cul­tural ma­chin­ery. South Austalia was also the base of wash­ing ma­chine and ce­ment mixer man­u­fac­turer Light­burn & Co which for a short pe­riod was also a car man­u­fac­turer that pro­duced the “Light­burn Zeta” car be­tween 1963 and 1965

With David Shearer, Holden and Light­burn it is a won­der that Ade­laide did not be­come the Detroit of the South­ern Hemi­sphere but then again per­haps it once was as the mo­tor in­dus­try in Detroit has suf­fered sim­i­larly to that of Aus­tralia. I won­der if we will see any fur­ther Aus­tralian cars as we drive into the fu­ture?

Don’t for­get to con­trib­ute your memories and also any old pho­to­graphs that you would like to see pub­lished in this mag­a­zine’s “As We Were” sec­tion.

Light­burn Zeta cour­tesy of the Ade­laide Ad­ver­tiser.

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