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Australian Dodges (history)


LennyDaVinci

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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

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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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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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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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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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  • 4 weeks later...

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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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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Many "American" cars for export were sourced from Canada due to the preferential "Commonwealth" import system. Imports from the US had to pay a tax, this import duty did not apply between countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

For this reason, Canadian factories were set up to make right hand drive models and cater to other requirements of export markets.

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  • 1 year later...

I have a T J Richards bodied 1930 roadster. I have never been able to find a chassis number or a body number on the vehicle. The Fedco plate (and radiator badge) had been removed prior to me getting the car remains.

The car did have DR 13 stamped (Burnt) into the main lengthwise piece of timber running the length of the body on the passenger (left) hand side. This was just under the seat.

Can anyone throw any light on this number please. Someone suggested this would possibly be a Richards reference number. ..... Dodge roadster no. 13.

Many thanks. Jim

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  • 11 months later...

Its amazing how things start fitting together as we move long with the study of something, many answers that I had back when this post was made are answered within this post as I combine it with new info I have gathered. Thanks to everyone that contributed to this post!

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If anyone is interested ( especially to my friends overseas that contributed soo much to this thread ) I would be willing to scan and submit here the pages that pertain to Dodge from the book mentioned in one of these earlier posts.

Joe Cozza was kind enough at one point to scan a copy for me that he somehow found through his network.

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If anyone is interested ( especially to my friends overseas that contributed soo much to this thread ) I would be willing to scan and submit here the pages that pertain to Dodge from the book mentioned in one of these earlier posts.

Joe Cozza was kind enough at one point to scan a copy for me that he somehow found through his network.

I for one would like to see that. Very interested in the development of the Austrslian suto industry. Both Canada and Australia had similar attitudes toward developing their auto industries before WW II, but took different routes later. Australia, with no big neighbours near by, was able to keep their industry indenpendant and viable.

Bill

Toronto, ON

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Ok than will put it on my to do list than, Ijust re-opened the mail he had sent, the info was originally sent to him by the...........This message contains a link to the document you requested from the National Library of Australia. The request number is 41000 for a copy of 'CHAPTER 6' from FROM HORSE TO HORSEPOWER / S.A. CHENEY.. The document contains 39 page(s), is 2,161KB in size, and was sent on October 28, 2009 at 01:13:31 PM. It is available for download within 14 days..............apparently it is no longer available as I tried opening the link so it will indeed have to be re-scanned.

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Jason

What I send you was sent as a attachment.

After reading this thread I went back into my computer find it and send it to who ever wanted it. Unfortunately it must have had something in it that self destructs after a certain amt. of time, because when I tried to open it there was just garbage.

The library probably doesn't want people to do what we are doing. They want the $$$$

Sorry,

Joe C.

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Yes, I think you are right about there being a time limit that it can be retrieved because when I tried opening it it told me that it was timed out or something or other.

Your prob. right about them not wanting it published here and out of consideration for your kindness in sending it I will not do so if it would bug you which it sounds like it will.

Ordinarily in my opinion it a published book, its not being sold here but is used for educationional purposes, I didnt plan on sharing the book from cover to cover but one simple chapter, it was published a long time ago, if you can find a copy your gonna get raped for it from some greedy S.O.B and everyone wants money so tough tushy.

I guess people can contact the library to get a copy if they wish, I dont know how much Joe paid ( maybe he will tell us ) but he told me it wasnt much and wouldnt accept a payment on my end when I offered to absorb some of the cost.

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Jason,

I don't have any problem of you scaning the chapter. I was just saying that's what the Aussie library is thinking.

It's was a good thing I printed the pages out instead of leaving them in my computer.

I looked back in my check book and couldn't find anything related to the book. I must have used my credit card. I do remember that it didn't cost as much as I thought.

Joe C.

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In my previous thread on "hood loops", Jason posed a number of questions. It is probably now more appropriate that I contribute what I can in this thread. My apologies for not doing so sooner, but my internet access has been faulty for some days now. I am currently restoring a Budd bodied DA sedan, have the remains of another Budd Sedan and had a Richards bodied tourer that I dismantled for parts for my restoration.

I am not sure if Budd bodied Dodges were imported as a complete car, or CKD (completely knocked down). I had always believed they were imported complete and still think this is likely, but having seen photos of "packs" of Budd body sections in crates sent "overseas", I am not so sure. It would appear that the bodies were packed in lots of six, that is six left sides in a crate, six right sides in another, etc, etc. I still however feel this is unlikely for Australia, as I do not know who would have assembled them and feel it is unlikely that it would have been Richards or Holden, who of course were in the business of making their own bodies for a range of vehicles. The imported bodies would also have attracted import duty, even if unassembled.

Dodge Brothers signed a major contract in 1922 with Richards to produce a Dodge car body. I think we could therefore assume that Dodge, and later Chrysler, were therefore happy to stand behind the product for any warranty claims as they were sold through the Dodge dealership network. It is interesting to note that in 1923, 115 bodies per week were being built, still very low volume compared to USA. A tariff scheme was in place to make it more attractive to make as much of a car in Australia. At this time, Richards were also making bodies for Bianchi, Citroen, Fiat, Gray, Maxwell, Morris, Oakland and Overland cars.

Regarding the DA Dodges, from my observations, I believe that the chassis, complete with all mechanicals including radiator, but without bonnet (hood), were imported. I am not sure of the mudgards (fenders), if not imported, they were a very good copy. From a distance, the Budd and Richards bodies look very similar and most that are not intimately aware of the differences may not pick any. But the main difference is that the body is timber framed. This was necessitated by the very low numbers produced as well as the limitations of presses. The bodies are mounted very differently. The Budd body mounting bolts go horizontally through the side of the chassis, the Richards sits on top of the chassis (see photo)post-67360-143138881641_thumb.jpg

, with a bit of half round moulding to cover the holes that Budd would have used. Another difference is that the little tabs, riveted to the chassis for a Budd, to hold the floor boards, are not required for a Richards, so are missing. I am not sure if they were not riveted on at the Dodge factory, or were removed in Australia, but the rivet holes are certainly there. My original chassis was badly rusted in this area, so I used the chassis from the Richards tourer. I re-riveted these tabs (from the Budd chassis) back on using the existing holes.

The bonnet (hood) sides are different (see photo)post-67360-143138881603_thumb.jpg

. They have a rectangular raised section around the louvres, which are all level across the top, whereas Budd had flat sides and the top of the louvres are not level but curved. I have seen a Richards bonnet on a Budd car, but I am not sure what modification is required, if any.

The Richards body has no air vents on the side of the cowl, but has one in the centre of the top of the cowl, in front of the windscreen. post-67360-143138881629_thumb.jpg

It would appear that Richards had no problems supplying whatever they were contracted to do, but I believe that they were prudent in what contracts they accepted. There is an extensive article in "Restored Cars Australia" issue 202, Sept-Oct 2010, by the noted motoring historian Max Gregory, on the history of T.J. Richards. In it he points out that they were much less affected by the depression than Holdens, because they concentrated on "standardised" car bodies, whereas Holdens accepted all work offered. From my observations, I have never seen a Holden Bodied DA. Richards made sedans, tourers and I think roadsters. However, a mate has two DC Dodges. The sedan is a Richards and there were a number of DC/DD sedans, but his tourer is a Holden body. There were very few tourers in DC/DD, so this seems to confirm that Holdens were prepared to accept making perhaps only a few DC Tourers that Richards thought too small a run.

There were, about this time, five major companies supplying "standardised" bodies in Australia, Richards and Holdens In Adelaide, Ford in Geelong, The Melbourne Motor Body Works in Melbourne and Smith and Waddington in Sydney.

Chrysler Dodge Distributors (Australia) Pty. Ltd was formed by a number of state franchise holders and purchased shares in Richards in 1936 and acquired a controlling interest in 1937. Richards Industries became Chrysler Dodge De Soto Distributors Ltd in 1947, became Chrysler Australia Ltd in 1951 and Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd in 1980. Mitsbishi ceased making cars in Australia in 2008.

Hope this helps a bit.

John

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