Five Decades of Motoring in Australia

Take a wander down Australia's motoring memory lane, following the changing face of motoring, from the 1950s through until the1990s. We look at the history of car manufacturing in Australia, the makes and models that have come and gone, and the iconic vehicles of each decade

The 1950s

A decade of great optimism in just about every aspect of life in Australia, the 1950s saw a rush of foreign car manufacturers - from Studebaker to Mercedes Banz - eager to set up car manufacturing plants in Australia so as to take advantage of the boom times.

The 1960s

The 1960s was a decade of great change and the motor vehicle industry played a major role in those changes. The decade began with the introduction of the iconic Mini and ended with the arrival of home grown muscle cars - the Holden Monaro, the Falcon GT and the Valiant Charger. In between came the beginning of the end of our preference for European vehicles with the arrival of the Japanese.

The 1970s

In the 1970s, the Japanese car manufacturers took a stanglehold of the Australian motor vehicle market. The nation had its fling with big V8 muscle cars until the fuel crisis of the mid 1970s hit, when Japan's every growing range of well equipped, economically priced four cylinder cars began to look a much more attractive proposition, particularly to the young generation of first car buyers.

The 1980s

The 1980s was the decade of the people mover - an idea conceived in the 1960s with Volkswagen's iconic Kombi van, and perfected in the 1980s by Toyota with the introduction of its 8 seater Tarago. Numerous big motoring names came in went in this decade - Chrysler became Mitsubishi, Datsun became Nissan, and when the dust settled, Australia was left with only four motor vehicle manufacturers - Holden (GM), Ford, Mitsubishi and Toyota.

The 1990s

The 1990s will be remembered as the decade when the motoring industry went high-tech. The world wide focus was less on style and more on fuel economy, technical sophistication and reliability. Now it was possible to have speed, safety and economy all in the one package.

Names, Emblems and Terminologies

Names, Emblems and Terminologies

A look at motoring body styles and what their names mean, then an A to Z of major car manufacturers and how and why those companies and the models they produced were named. The makes and models listed here are primarily those that are either presently sold in Australia or are no longer manfactured but were once sold in Australia. Makes and models not sold in Australia may not be included.

1950s: The Era of the Microcar

1950s: The Era of the Microcar

Microcars, or bubblecars or whatever you call them, were very much a product of their time, an era that came and went quickly, but has left the world with some unique, and strangely loveable collectors items. Soon after their demise, bubblecars became status symbols for people who love quirky things. Ironically, the reasons for their latter-day popularity is what caused consumers at large in the 1950s to turn their back on them.

Motor Vehicle Manufacture in Australia

Motor Vehicle Manufacture in Australia

The first of the Australian single level production line car factories was the Ford Motor Company Works at Norlane Geelong in 1925. The Geelong Ford factory was modelled on the company's 1923 assembly plant at Toronto, Canada, designed by Kahn. The original Geelong buildings from 1925 are the work of Melbourne engineers Fyvie and Stewart, in partnership with William Grassick, also an engineer.

Manufacturing Plants

Chrysler/Mitsubishi, Tonsley Park, SA
GMH, Birkenhead, SA
GMH, Elizabeth, SA
Ford, Birkenhead, SA
VW/Nissan, Clayton, Vic.
GMH, Fishermans Bend, Vic
AMI, Fishermans Bend, Vic
Toyota, Altona, Vic
GMH, City Rd., Melbourne, Vic
GMH/Toyota, Dandenong, Vic
Ford, Geelong, Vic
Ford, Broadmeadows, Vic
GMH Fortitude Valley, Qld
Ford, Eagle Farm, Qld
GMH, Marrickville, NSW
GMH, Pagewood, NSW
Ford, Homebush, NSW
BMC/British Leyland, Zetland, NSW
GMH, Mosman Park, WA
Ford, Mosman Park, WA

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