The Cars of the 50s – book review


After WWII the Federal Government of Australia made the decision to establish a functioning automobile industry in this country, because the isolation and reliance on imported machinery experienced during WWII made such a decision imperative.



This history of cars manufactured and assembled in Australia covers the 1950s period. 

The Rootes Group began assembling Hillmans and Humbers in a factory previously used to assemble aircraft during the War and, while successful in a modest way, the company stayed with assembly and never moved to manufacture. Volkswagen from Germany, however, did make the production leap with the ubiquitous Beetle, which quickly became the top selling four-cylinder car in Australia.

Along the way a variety of entrepreneurs tried their hand at building their own cars but without any notable commercial success. However, their cars have become very collectable since and for each there is a flourishing club of intrepid enthusiasts who love and cherish them.

The commercial diversity in the 1950s in Australia was astounding and showed the world that we could build anything we needed, usually better than our international competitors. It was an exciting decade that led to bigger and better things in the 60s and 70s.


About the author

Gavin Farmar was born in Adelaide in August 1945 and, from a very early age, he recognised the difference between Ford, Chevrolet, Plymouth and Doge vehicles.

After working as a school teacher, he initially entered the motor industry with Chrysler. During the 1970s, he had various roles in the motor industry, which broadened his knowledge immensely.

Beginning in the 1980s, Gavin embarked on a career as a motoring historian and his first articles were published in a classic car magazine in Munich. As his writing skills developed and his confidence grew, he had articles published in the Automobile Quarterly Magazine, which was the beginning of an international career for this Australian writer.


Historic Vehicles’ review by Jim Gibson

This book’s 99-page history of our country’s involvement in car manufacturing and assembly, during the mid-decade of last century, is a must-read for those interested in Australia’s automotive history.

I started my working life as an apprentice motor mechanic in 1960, so I have an intimate knowledge of many of these vehicles – having worked on, driven many and even owned some of them.

Reviewing this well written and factual account of those halcyon days of my life was a very pleasant trip down memory lane.

Gavin Farmar is to be commended for the volume of his accurate research, supported by colour photographs.


The Cars of the 50s: a history of cars manufactured and assembled in Australia during the 1950s, by Gavin Farmar, New Holland Publishers RRP $59.99 is available from all good book retailers or online

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