LennyDaVinci

Australian Dodges (history)

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As promised, here is some information about the import and distribution of Dodges/Chryslers in Australia in the 1920s by one T. J. Richards. He started out as a soft drink maker but got into buggies and cars around 1890s. He was eventually taken over by Chrysler in the 1940s.

There are great photos of his factory and workers in Adelaide at the Sth Australian State Library which I cannot reproduce ... but YOU can by going to Photos and downloading. You will recognise many familar body parts. He imported rolling chassis and built them into local vehicles. Others may now add to this small history (please).

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T.J.Richards.pdf

Edited by LennyDaVinci (see edit history)

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Lenny,

I tried to click on "message" but get nothing.

As you can see, I have interest in Aussie built Dodges.

Are there any other sites that I could look at?

Thanks.

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I clicked on it and got the library. With a little searching for TJ Richards (and finding that he was a war hero) I was able to locate his auto industry. Fun Stuff...

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Me again,

Hopefully is attached is the plaque that's on my touring car.

Can I go there to get some new body parts? :) :) :)

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I was able to search and download the pict. if anyone is interested I can post them here, just let me know, I am pretty sure they were all dated 1922 though.

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Some very interesting pictures. I have a 1924 Tourer which has a wooden body frame which I assume was built by TJ Richards here in Adelaide, South Australia.

Does anyone have any information on actual body production dates etc for TJ Richards bodied Dodges and body paint colours they used?

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Good to see so much interest ... but why would someone import an Aussie car after it was exported originally. It would be interesting to know the history of some of those cars..

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Cant really see where any of the questions I had asked were answered, maybe the questions were too specific but I thought I would throw it out there just in case I just missed something, thanks

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Well, maybe not all of your questions, but I think the info goes some way towards answering ...

"I have early photos showing entire dissasembled cars being exported but have no info about our particular model and how it was sent, do you.

Who was TJ Richards, was he a dealer there in Australia and is Adelaide the name of a city there.??

Was he a friend or buisness partner of the Dodge Brothers or was he just a random dealer selected to sell the cars?

Was he the only Dodge dealer in Australia at the time that built or sold these cars?

Is the firm still in buisness and if not when did they go out or under and why?

I believe that there was another firm possibly there at the same time dealing Dodge which was called Holden, is that true and if so did T.J. Richards and Holden deal only with Dodge cars."

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As previously stated the T.J.Richards family assembled Chrysler / Dodge / Plymouth / Desoto vehicles here in South Australia up until the post war years. This practice was established by Government regulations to conform with vehicle import requirements prior to the beginnings of home grown vehicle manufacturing plants.

Chrysler Australia commenced operations in the old T.J.Richards plant at Keswick ( inner Adelaide suburb - capital city of South Australia ) around 1950; the T.J.Richards family had by then diversified into other industries and had no further input in auto manufacturing.

Chrysler Australia went on to establish a bigger plant at the Adelaide suburb of Tonsley Park and continued making vehicles until Mitsubishi took them over in the early 80`s.

The Richards family descendants still live in Adelaide but have had no involvement with automobiles since the 50`s; unfortunately there is little or no history of their vehicle production records and as most of that generation have passed on it would seem there is little or no hope of finding them.

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I should add that around the same time the Holden Motor Body company ( similar origins to T J Richards ) were also assembling Chrysler products at another Adelaide plant in the suburb of Woodville. Later this company was absorbed by General Motors and in 1948 produced there own home grown version of a GM product simply known as the Holden, they are still producing and exporting GM based cars today.

But back to the 1930`s the Holden company assembled many Dodges, Plymouths and Desotos as well as other independent makes ( these cars all had a distinctive Holden badge fitted to the body usually on the lower cowl area ); they were also very big in Military production for all services during WW2.

As far as I am aware Chrysler production reverted to T J Richards post war until their takeover by Chrysler Australia.

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Did T.J Richards only assemble Dodge/Chrysler vehicles?

What did they have to start with, were they only rolling frames with mechanicals? or did they ever receive entire assy either in one piece or all crated up in pieces for one reason or another?

From your response above I see that T.J was not the only dealer there assembling these vehicles.

It it safe to assume that they were allways wood bodies made to fit the chasis and if so than I guess its safe to assume that no steel bodied cars were shipped there for sale directly or in pieces?

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Tobias J Richards started in 1885 as a carriage maker. However there were lots of body builders around, eg Tarrants, Floods, Holden and Frost etc. Even saddlers and blacksmiths had a go at it.

As WW1 caused a shortage in shipping space, cars were brought in as just a bare chassis and front end.

Complete cars were imported but an extra tax was levied on them.

HTH

Manuel in Oz

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To my knowledge there has never been a concise documented history of the T J Richards operation, all we have to rely on are the remaining vehicles on our roads today.

Factors which affected the importation of complete or disassembled vehicles, were as mentioned, world wars and Government regulations / tariffs aimed at protecting the local industries.

Here in Adelaide we have full steel bodied as well as wood framed vehicles from different eras bulit by T J Richards. Most of the body styles up to the 50`s were similar to US vehicles, however we have some odd balls such as wood framed 1935 Plymouth touring bodies.

I myself have a 1934 all steel Chrysler which was obviously fully imported, many dealers worked independently of the Richards operation and imported fully assembled vehicles usually from Canadian plants because of the right hand drive requirement.

When I put my all steel bodied 34 next to a Richards wood framed 34 there are considerable differences both inside and out, in fact the only common denominator is the chassis and drive train.

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Thanks for the info, I see now there does not seem to be any clear or concrete courses of action.

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The best History of Dodge Brothers in Australia is a biography "From Horse to Horsepower" by S. A. Cheney. He was the first DB distributor in Australia.He came to Detroit and sat in the outer office of the dodge Brothers until they agreed to give him the distributorship.

Cheney's niece is the wife of David Schumacher of Adelaide and they have a '16 DB Touring, freshley restored, and a '25 Touring.

I do not know if copies are avaialble in the US. I got mine in AU.

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If anyone has a copy of this book ......From Horse to Horsepower" by S. A. Cheney......They wouldnt mind sharing or want to part with let me know, I dont seem to be having any luck in the usual places. Thanks

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1930 - Have a look on Amazon.com. There were a limited number of copies available on this site when I looked a few weeks ago.

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I did look on Amazon and it said the book is unavailable, I will try the e-bay in Australia every now and then, maybe I will get lucky.

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I just had a look. There is one there now [on Oz ebay] with 2 days to go.

Manuel in Oz

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If you wish ... Peter & Rosie Margrie have a "signed copy" at:

Woodend Bookshop

104 High Street

Woodend, Victoria, Australia

phone: +61-03 5427 2151

woodendbook.com.au

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Thanks but apparently someone here may have seen your post here before I did on that signed version and beat me to it,... showing no such listing either under author or title???? thanks alot guys!!! I will keep my eye on the e-bay one, prob. will also be beat on that one though since now everyone will be watching it and bidding. If any of you guys in Aust. run across another copy dont mention it here and just purchase it for me and I will send you the money, dont really care what it costs within reason. Thanks

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