Given the vast distances travelled in Australia, as a nation we embraced the opportunities of motoring very early on and became a lucrative market for both European (mainly English) and American car manufacturers right from the outset of popular motoring, despite what would be seen as a smallish market by international standards.
In many ways, being an equally available market for the USA and Europe, we have always been lucky to have been reared on a diet of both traditional English quality, style and engineering, right alongside the power, dependability and world leading styles of the USA (albeit often sourced from Canada due to Commonwealth tariff advantages).
So it's no surprise that our classic car passion rates high for motoring and the appreciation of the best and most desirable products of the "Big Three" American manufacturers who ultimately became the Australian motoring backbone (GM / Holden, Ford / Falcon & Fairlane and Chrysler / Valiant).
Australian classic car imports have boomed over the past 10 years and there are many enthusiasts who reference the ClassicCars.Com site and read the Newsletters as routinely as our American cousins.
My family's motoring connections go right back to about 1916 in Coleraine, a small Victorian farming town where my Uncle Arthur (Pottage) got a job out of school as an apprentice motor mechanic, encouraging his father, who was already mechanically qualified as a steam locomotive driver, to buy the family a car to tour the countryside and between the towns on what were still gravel horse tracks. They bought a 1908 Fiat Tourer in 1917 and Arthur's lifelong connection to motoring began.
Arthur progressed later to a locally manufactured Parisian motor bike (named after a local winner of the Melbourne Cup Horse Race) and before the second World War bought his first car, a 1928 Overland Whippet Tourer in which he and his wife travelled extensively around Victoria and South Australia, with apparently complete reliability.
Later, like so many post WW2 families, he and his wife Nellie got the caravanning bug, buying a 1949 Standard Vanguard to pull their Globe Trotter caravan. Vanguards were a very popular car here in the 1950s that accommodated a family, with bullet proof construction for our bad roads and a reputation for almost total mechanical reliability.
Arthur worked at the garage mechanic in Coleraine for 50 years, both repairing and test driving or doing a delivery pick up of new cars from the shipping docks in Melbourne. He witnessed the passing parade of cars as they evolved with new engineering and styles to meet the demands of an ever changing world. His mechanical career covered the period from 1916 working in a converted blacksmith's shop where repairs often involved makeshift repairs using the Blacksmith's anvil, through the era of early mass production of wooden spoked cars of the 1920s then the war years and to the more refined shapes of the 1950s and 60s that could arguably be the templates for today's cars. He retired in 1966, still the local garage's main mechanic.
1. 1908 Fiat with Arthur (aged 16) at the wheel with his parents and family, circa 1917.
2. Young's Garage manufactured "Parisian" motorbike, circa 1917.
3. 1927 Overland Whippet and 1937 (Australian) Chevrolet Ute (wartime lights), circa 1943.
4. 1949 Vanguard & Globe Trotter caravan, circa 1959
5. Chevrolet sedan servicing, circa 1960
6. Young's Garage Coleraine Rugby car delivery day in 1927. (Arthur's by himself on the extreme left)