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From Goldrush to The Fabulous Fifties (1900-1959) | Shannons End of An Era | Part 1

By Shannons - Published on 01 September 2019

We step back into time to the early days of Henry Ford’s Quadricycle, Herbert Thomson and Australia’s first ever interstate road trip and Harley Tarrant who, amongst others, pioneered the concept of personal transportation without the horse and credited as Australia’s most successful manufacturer of early petrol driven cars.
Holden shifts from being a saddle maker in Adelaide to car maker, building cars for Studebaker, Dodge and even Ford – that’s right Fords made by Holden’s, who would later join forces with General Motors.
Geelong becomes the home of Ford making local versions of the Model T and then, not long after, we see how a little Aussie ingenuity kick-started our love affair with the classic Aussie ute, thanks to Lew Bandt’s 1934 Ford Ute intended to get him to church on Sunday and his prized pigs to the market on Monday.
As World War II breaks, our fledgling automotive industry shifts focus as both Ford and Holden produce planes, boats and weaponry for our troops fighting in foreign lands.
Then, as Australia moves from its post-war austerity, the Government calls for submissions to build what would be the first all Australian made car. Effectively the first race between Holden and Ford, as to who would win the Government’s favour.
An all-new, ground up design from Holden called the 48/215 described by the Prime Minister Ben Chifley as a “Beauty” launched in 1948 and Australia fell in love with their ‘own car’. Holden could not keep up with sales and we reveal the connection between the American engineer who oversaw Australia’s new car, using the same monocoque technology he developed for Adolf Hitler’s German auto program.

As car affordability improved, more Australians started to travel like never before as towing caravans and the family road trip became part of the Australian way of life.
In the 1950’s the Australian landscape was changing as shifts in Immigration policy saw many Europeans and English settle in Australia. New suburbs emerged from farmland, television arrived in time for the Melbourne Olympics and the new Holden FE earned near 50% market share.
Retrieved from the archival vaults, we’ve discovered rare and exclusive footage including Prime Minister Robert Menzies, welcoming the new era of manufacturing prosperity for a young Australia, as he opens Ford’s Broadmeadows manufacturing plant ready for the first Australian made Falcon in 1960. It is the iconic Ford Falcon that would become one of the longest continuing nameplates in Automotive history.

Events like the Redex trials captured the public’s interest, plus provided car-makers with the opportunity to test the durability of their vehicles against the harsh Australian conditions and it’s these events that would become the basis for touring car racing in years to come. It was indeed exciting times, as Australia welcomed the likes of Volkswagen, Austin, Studebaker, Dodge and Plymouth, plus many more who would begin local manufacture on Australian soil, including an Australian made Mercedes Benz.
Shannons End of Era. Celebrating Aussie Motoring History.