Thursday, January 17, 2008

Australia's First Car

Go on, guess what was Australia's first car....

If you guessed the Holden, you're wrong.

Nope, waaay back in the dim dark years that were waving goodbye to the 19th century, a mechanic in Armadale, Victoria, did a lot of hard yakka on building the first successful Aussie car.

Herbert Thomson, in 1896, revealed his 2 cylinder steam-powered vehicle which took the state, and later the nation, by storm.

Not only did he reject both electricity and gasoline as useless in the Australian colonies ( smart lad, that one !) but his steam kettle beat a 3.5 horse powered, petrol driven Benz in a race.

Herbert was soon seen by all and sundry as he puttered all over Victoria, driving in rough terrain where only horses dared to tread (and even then they had a drover yelling at them), basically exhibiting his car as a means to advertise the little beauty.
This smart lad was planning on mass producing his steam-powered invention and, in an era where horses still reigned, he got a lot of publicity mileage by winning a prize for being the first motorist to drive more than 2,000 miles.

By 1900 the Thomson car was shipped to flash it's wares at the Sydney Easter Show, while afterwards the inventor was to drive like the clappers back to Melbourne. Not along the Hume or other paved highways and byways we are used to - but along little more than goat tracks and mires, because horses don't need a made road and no other cars had tried to drive such a distance before.

Don't panic ! Herbert and his cousin Edward Holmes got back to Melbourne in just 10 days to a roaring welcome, which cemented the Thomson Motor Car Co. success and plenty of orders for many years afterwards.

More info HERE, HERE and HERE.
Oh, if you really insist, another HERE.

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