Miniature Mayhem at Beaulieu

Join us from Saturday October 24th to Sunday November 1st to celebrate all things miniature with our new exhibition “Motoring in Miniature – the Toys of Your Childhood” and brand new play area Little Beaulieu.

Motoring in Miniature at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.

Christopher Macgowan


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Beaulieu launches a truly unique event.

Grab a picnic blanket and get ready to enjoy a summer’s evening at Beaulieu in the New Forest as it hosts its first ever Park & Picnic.

All visitors are invited to drive into the Beaulieu visitor attraction, park-up within the museum grounds and enjoy a picnic in the parkland with live music and exclusive access to the Beaulieu attraction including the National Motor Museum and new adventure play area, Little Beaulieu.

Grab a hamper and soak up the atmosphere in the serenity of the Beaulieu grounds, for what promises to be a relaxing evening for the whole family to enjoy together. Although we expect to see some beautiful classic cars in attendance, this evening is open to all. The Beaulieu Park & Picnic evenings will take place on Thursday 13th August, Thursday 20th August and Thursday 27thAugust 2020 from 5pm until 8pm when the attraction will close.

With tickets strictly limited, those visiting will be able to enjoy exclusive evening access to the National Motor Museum that hosts one of the finest collections of cars, motorcycles and motoring memorabilia in the world. This now includes, ‘Motoring in Miniature – the Toys of Your Childhood’, a brand new exhibition which showcases more than 800 toy cars and pedal cars, and celebrates miniature motoring memories and much-loved playthings of the past.

To keep the younger ones busy, Little Beaulieu will remain open throughout the evening. This enchanting new adventure play area will allow younger visitors to burn off some steam, whilst parents can relax and enjoy live New Orleans style jazz music, performed by local group ‘Acoustic Jass’. Tunes by this dixieland jazz band range from well-known jazz and blues, to the great American songbook and popular tracks of the early twentieth century

For those wishing to unwind without the worry of packing a picnic, the Brabazon Restaurant will be open and offering take-away fish and chip suppers, freshly cooked pizza and a Ploughmans style picnic box (meat or vegetarian). The café will also be open for cold and hot drinks, light snacks and ice-creams.

Cars will be parked in the parkland surrounding the National Motor Museum with enough space to picnic alongside whilst ensuring adherence to social distancing. Since reopening to the general public on Saturday 4th July and following careful preparation and measures aimed at keeping both its visitors and staff safe, the Beaulieu attraction has been awarded the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard from Visit Britain. This means they are following Government and industry Covid-19 guidelines and have processes in place to ensure social distancing and cleanliness at all times.

Tickets for Thursday 13th August, Thursday 20th August and Thursday 27th August must be pre-booked online in advance. Entry is £28 per car and includes admission for 2 people. Additional passengers are £10 per adult and £5 per child (age 5 – 16), and under 5’s go free. Capacity for these new exclusive evenings at Beaulieu will be limited and sold on a first-come first-served basis.

For more information, or to buy your Beaulieu Park & Picnic tickets, please visit

Christopher Macgowan


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David Beckham Aston Martin V8 Volante

DAVID BECKHAM is rumoured to own a vintage luxury car collection valued at $3,000,000, but this may have reduced slightly as one of them is now up for grabs on Auto Trader.

Golden Balls’ own Aston Martin AMV8 Volante is currently being advertised on Auto Trader, the UK’s largest digital marketplace for new and used cars, for a cool £445,000, via Aston Martin Works.

This beautiful vintage car comes in deep red, with cream leather interiors, deep pile carpets and burr walnut, as well as the sought-after X Pack engine. With a five-speed manual gearbox and 432hp, the V8 can do 0-60mph in 5.2 seconds, and a top speed of 168mph.

Previously registered under Beckham’s personal plate ‘DB1001’, the V8 Volante was often spotted by paparazzi in the UK. Immediately recognisable by its gleaming metallic paint, the V8 would be seen regularly cruising along West London’s streets.

The Beckhams held on to the Volante for 15 years before selling it in 2018. David even shipped it over to Madrid during his time with Real Madrid football club, showing a clear fondness for this particular model.

The Aston Martin AMV8 Volante is in pristine condition and was even showcased at the London Classic Car Show in February before lockdown. One of just 78 similar cars, it has been meticulously maintained by its previous owners and is ready for immediate sale.

Auto Trader’s Rory Reid says, “We know David Beckham is a bit of a petrolhead, owning cars ranging from Bentleys and Rolls-Royces to, of course, Aston Martins. This AMV8 Volante is a gorgeous classic so I’m not surprised he held on to it for so long. It’s cool to know someone in the public can now buy this car – well as long as you’ve got half a million spare of course – just by heading onto Auto Trader.”

For other celebrity cars, visit

Christopher Macgowan


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Regional holiday travel beckons…..

Source: Ben Groundwater is my favourite travel writer at Fairfax Media and his piece today could apply anywhere in the world as the pandemic makes local travel the only serious option for the foreseeable.

Dear regional Australia,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry on behalf of myself, and my fellow travel writers. I’m sorry on behalf of travel bloggers and social-media influencers. I’m sorry on behalf of Australian city-dwellers who maybe don’t get out as much as they should, who might previously have preferred to spend their annual leave and their tourism dollars on fancy trips to Europe, and the Americas, and Africa, and Antarctica.

Because we’re coming. With state borders closed and long-distance travel prohibitive, we’re all looking for somewhere to go, somewhere new, somewhere different – and the highway beckons.

We’re coming for you out in regional Australia, out as far as regional goes. We’re coming to drink at your pubs and eat at your cafes and stay in your B&Bs and peruse your shops and wander your streets. We’re coming to discover your offerings and experience your culture and report back on it to readers and followers and friends.

And we’re going to be a bit of a nightmare. We’re going to be condescending. We’re going to be naïve.

Oh wow, we’ll say. The coffee’s actually all right out here, isn’t it?

And isn’t this place just so charming? Isn’t this quaint? Isn’t Australia an amazing place?

This will be annoying for you on several levels. It will be annoying because most times you’ll hear all of this gushing praise and you’ll think, yeah, no kidding. This is an amazing place, and it’s been here all the time. You just never bothered to look. Plenty of locals and travellers alike don’t need to be told that there are great things in regional Australia.

It will also be annoying because these gushing five-star reviews will glamorise rural life. They will idealise the country Australian existence, reducing living in an isolated region to surprisingly good food and beautiful scenery and friendly folk in hats.

I grew up in regional Australia, in central Queensland, so I know that the rural existence is more complicated than that. Yes, it’s charming in some ways, but it’s soul-sapping in others. It can be a hard place to make a living. It can be a hard place to fit in if you’re different. It can be a hard place to find anything to do if you’re young and carefree and have a lot of time on your hands; boredom and frustration make people do funny things.

If you live in a rural area you already know this, and my reckoning is that you’re not really going to appreciate some writer or influencer swanning in and telling you what an idyllic existence you enjoy, and how it’s making them consider a tree change. Oh yeah, you’ll think – go ahead and try. (Or: please don’t.)

We’re coming, and we’re going to be annoying. You’ll notice a sense of discovery in the social media posts and the travel stories that will be floating around for the next few months. There will be no shame in these declarations that we’ve found something amazing that everyone else should see – something that plenty of others have been checking out for years now.

And despite every effort, I will be part of this pack. This week I’m heading out into regional NSW and Victoria. I’m visiting wine country in Murrumbateman and Beechworth. I’m sampling the restaurants. I’m hanging out in the towns.

And I will probably be the one raving about how amazing it is, how Australia’s tourism offering is first-class, how I can now understand why foreign tourists spend so much money getting over here and experiencing everything we have to offer. I’ll make no mention of the fact that this is all happening because I suddenly can’t go anywhere else. And that will be understandably painful to watch.

We will all be guilty of this in some way, professionals and tourists alike, even those just setting out on small road trip because that holiday to Bali is now off the cards.

So all I can say is: sorry. This is definitely a case of “better late than never”. We might be condescending and we might be glossing over any problems in regional Australia (or not staying long enough to notice them) but at least we’re making the effort. At least we’re taking the chance to see our own country and maybe understand a little bit more of it and send tourist dollars in the right direction.

This could be the start of something great, of Australians of all ages choosing to holiday closer to home, choosing to forgo all of the airports and the hassles and appreciating the product that is sometimes literally on our doorstep.

So you’ll forgive a few annoyances as we find our way.

We're coming, and we're going to be annoying.

We’re coming, and we’re going to be annoying. Photo: iStock

Christopher Macgowan


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TfL spending will not return to pre-Covid levels anytime soon.


Transport investment in London is likely to fall significantly over the next few years, as Transport for London grapples with the long-term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Public transport demand has plummeted, wrecking TfL’s financial plans, including the business plan for 2020/21-2024/25 published last December.

“It is unlikely, even with significant external support, that we will return to any similar plan or levels of investment in the medium-term,” Simon Kilonback, TfL’s chief finance officer, told the board last week. 

TfL expects the collapse in travel demand to result in an overall income loss of more than £4bn this year. 

Public transport revenues may not recover to pre-virus levels for years. TfL is also vulnerable to reduced income from business rates, which now provide it with much of its non-fare income. Kilonback described this as a “key income risk”.  

Outgoing London transport commissioner Mike Brown told the board last week that TfL had been making good progress to reduce its operating deficit.

“Prior to the effect of coronavirus on our finances, the net cost of operations – our net deficit after taking into account financing and capital renewals costs – was on track to be almost £220m better than last year.”

Covid-19 cost TfL about £220m in the final weeks of  the financial year up to 31 March – £183m from lost passenger income, and £28m of additional costs. This pushed TfL’s net cost of operations up to £423m. 

TfL expects passenger revenues to be as much as £3.5bn lower than budget during 2020/21 because of Covid-19 and Kilonback told the board that the overall full-year income loss was “anticipated to be over £4.0bn”. 

He said TfL had drawn up an emergency budget for 2020/21 “that assumes nearly £1bn of cost reduction/deferral over the period, and assumes we utilise around £1bn of our cash resources, leaving a funding gap of £1.9bn in the first half of the year and a full-year funding gap of £3.2bn”.

Last month the Government provided TfL with access to a £1.6bn extraordinary funding and financing package for the period up to 17 October (see below). A follow-on medium-term support package will then be put in place.

The initial support package comprises £1.095bn of grant and a loan facility of £505m from the Public Works Loan Board. The support can be increased by a further £300m of grant and loan if revenue losses are higher than forecast for this period.   

TfL has taken steps to reduce costs, putting more than 7,000 workers onto the Government’s furlough scheme and releasing around 770 of non-permanent staff 

Nevertheless, Kilonback said: “Despite having already taken a significant amount of cost out of the organisation, it is still costing TfL around £600m a month to run its network.” 

The emergency budget assumed that Tube and bus services operate at 50 per cent and 80 per cent of normal levels respectively until the end of June. TfL has since agreed to increase service levels to near pre-Covid-19 levels as soon as possible as part of the funding agreement  with Government. 

TfL has now begun work on a revised emergency budget that will inform the negotiations with the Government over the financial support for the second half of the year. Board approval for the revised budget will be sought next month.

The original emergency budget  includes “significant deferral of capital expenditure in order to reduce costs in the short-term”. 

Projects that are still proceeding include:

  • the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) up to the north and south circular roads;
  • bus electrification; 
  • the ongoing road user charging strategic options study. This is looking at whether distance driven, emissions, time and road danger can be incorporated into charges 
  • the mayor’s air quality fund programme;
  • a temporary bridge for walking and cycling at Hammersmith to relieve Hammersmith Bridge;
  • the Surface Intelligent Transport System (SITS) programme; 
  • ongoing work on rail devolution (at the DfT’s request), including Great Northern; 
  • increasing train frequencies on the East London Line to 18 trains per hour; and 
  • major projects including the Northern Line extension, Bank station capacity upgrade,  the Silvertown Crossing and the Barking Riverside rail line. 

What Shapps told TfL

Transport for London has released transport secretary Grant Shapps’ letter to London mayor Sadiq Khan, confirming the £1.6bn Covid-19 funding and financing package for TfL.  

TfL’s emergency budget submitted to the Government predicted a shortfall for the period 1 April 2020 to 17 October 2020 of £1.9bn. 

“Given the uncertainties in predicting demand this funding agreement assumes a shortfall for this period of £1.6bn,” said Shapps.  

The transport secretary attached a number of conditions to the package, requiring TfL to: 

• push forward “an ambitious active travel plan to promote cycling and walking, including new segregated cycle lanes, closures of roads to through traffic, and pavement extensions, utilising at least the £55m allocated in the support period. The detail of the plan will be agreed and overseen by a dedicated oversight group comprising TfL and Her Majesty’s Government” 

• temporarily suspend free travel for Freedom Pass and 60 plus card holders during the morning peak and suspending free travel for under 18s, the latter “subject to discussions about how it is to be operationalised”

• place card readers by the operating entrance doors on all buses as soon as practicable, and immediately require passengers to use the approximately 2,000 readers that are already so placed 

• immediately reintroduce the central London congestion charge, the ultra-low emission zone and the low emission zone and “urgently bring forward proposals to widen the scope and levels of these charges”

• accept that two Government-appointed special representatives will attend all TfL board meetings, being able to raise questions at the board, request additional information as reasonably required and report back to the secretary of state. One special representative will also be able to attend all meetings, formal and informal, of the finance committee and the programmes and investment committee. 

“There will be an immediate and broad ranging government-led review of TfL’s future financial position and future financial structure,” added Shapps. This will explore: 

  • options for revenue maximisation, including fares policy and revenue yield choices over time 
  • opportunities to deliver further efficiencies in the short and medium term in relation to operating costs 
  • the approach to capital spending, both in terms of asset maintenance and enhancement 
  • the balance sheet and financing structure, including financing policy, of TfL 
  • current fiscal devolution arrangements 
  • potential for raising more non-fare based revenue and commercial income 

The review will include the undertaking of international and cross-modal benchmarks. It will be completed by the end of August.

Christopher Macgowan


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BVRLA and FLA provide blueprint for scrappage scheme.

The BVRLA and the FLA have outlined a set of principles upon which they believe any new scrappage scheme should be based.

Following the announcement that the Government is planning to introduce a £6,000 incentive for anyone looking to swap their petrol or diesel car for and electric vehicle (EV), the two trade associations have written to HM Treasury, the Department for Transport and BEIS.

Representing the rental, leasing and finance sectors, the BVRLA and FLA are urging Ministers to develop an “ambitious” car scrappage scheme that tackles air quality, drives EV uptake and encourages more sustainable travel behaviour.

BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “To be truly effective, any EV stimulus scheme must work for both the new and used market.

“It should make the UK a more attractive market for OEMs to sell their EVs and help those who cannot afford to buy a new electric car to purchase or lease a used one. Any scheme that focuses solely on supporting new vehicle sales could damage the residual values of ex-fleet cars and thus hinder the sector’s ability to invest in new electric vehicles.”

The ten principles outlined by the two associations are:

  • Act quickly
  • Be bold
  • Prioritise new and used EVs
  • Don’t forget about air quality 
  • Support fleet and private buyers 
  • Make a difference where it matters
  • Drive transport behaviour change
  • Be purchase-channel agnostic 
  • Work with all financing models 
  • Think long-term

BVRLA members represent the demand side of the automotive sector, owning and operating over five million cars, vans and trucks, including more than 90,000 battery electric vehicles. Its members buy around 50% of new vehicles sold annually and spend more than £30 billion upgrading their fleets each year.

FLA members provided £48 billion of new finance to help households and businesses purchase cars in 2019 and are responsible for 91% of all private new car registrations.

Adrian Dally, head of motor finance at the FLA, said: “Getting Britain moving again will require many businesses and consumers driving newer and cleaner vehicles at prices they can afford. This stimulus will come at the right time to support jobs and households across the whole of the UK.”

Jon Lawes, MD of Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions, added: “A car scrappage scheme could prove to be a tipping point in incentivising consumers to switch to electric vehicles (EVs). Environmental concerns have been driving demand for EVs, with a 21% increase in sales last month. 

“Our own research showed that over quarter of consumers are now considering purchasing an EV after lockdown, with a further 40% of workers considering greener modes of commuting, so demand is definitely there to drive a Green revolution.”

Christopher Macgowan


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Is it time to ease restrictions?

As I begin week six of my isolation – along with millions of others – I am minded to reflect personally on where we are and, with greater difficulty, where we are heading.

I have a foot firmly planted in two rather different industries – automotive and tourism.

I am mostly but not entirely relaxed about my own lockdown and broadly support the thinking behind it. Other countries are indeed doing things in different ways and I think we are all beginning to see that “no size fits all”. My partner is a New Zealander who has lived here in the UK for fifty years and is rightly impressed with the way her country of birth has gone about things. PM Jacinda Ardern has been decisive, read the mood of the country well and her government’s steps are working well. Most of us are hoping that the USA comes out of it without too heavy a loss of life despite widely differing approaches by State Governors and Donald Trump’s highly individual approach. 

A good example of differing approaches currently is the vexed topic of face masks illustrating so many different solutions all claiming to be science lead and evidence based.

Looking to the future for the UK is more challenging.

I am delighted to see that in automotive a number of vehicle factories are creeping back into action, observing social distancing and testing the strength of their supply chains which have been idle as long as the car factories have been silent. I am rather taken with one of the Ford plants which has introduced with full staff and union approval the wearing of a bespoke wrist band which emits a sound when it comes within a two metre range of another wrist band. Simple and effective. 

We have all learned how finely tuned these supply chains are during the agonising Brexit debate. I am in no doubt the start-up phase will be complex and not without difficulty and surprise. We wait now with baited breath to see if there is an enthusiastic market waiting for the cars which are starting to be built quite apart from the not inconsiderable stockpiles of cars sitting at UK ports.

May 7th is likely to be a key date in the unlocking process and there is I believe a general understanding that it is simply not possible to keep us all locked up indefinitely. I am for instance not hugely enraptured that my own isolation is primarily driven by my age.

I fear, again writing entirely in a personal capacity, that tourism is in for a slow return to so called normality. Before much can be opened, the government will need to be clear that social and safe travel is permitted and be crystal clear what that means. I am hopeful that many tourist organisations able to demonstrate responsible opening with social distancing and all that goes with it, is a feasible way forward and herein lies the key path to a new normality. 

There seems little point the government declaring that, for instance, the west country is now off the hook or that, again just for theoretical example, take-aways are off the hook.

The only criterion must be whether an organisation has the wherewithal and the planning in place to operate safely both for its own staff and its customers. If supermarkets can do it, others in tourism can too. And Local Authorities and Planning Authorities may be called upon to briefly expand their roles and spot check those who claim to be operating safely, are so doing.

It seems self evident that big gatherings are going to be on a hot list for some time yet but equally self evident, professional, responsible and utterly Covid-19 compliant elements of the huge tourism industry must surely be encouraged to un-furlough staff and to quote the PM “fire up the engines of the economy.”

Christopher Macgowan


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As many as a thousand stylish sports cars….

As many as 1,000 stylish sports cars are expected to join the packed display as Beaulieu’s Simply Porsche returns to the grounds of the National Motor Museum on Sunday June 7th.

From early examples of the 1950s and 1960s, through the legendary 911, right up to the latest models from the German sports car marque, all Porsche owners are welcome to park up, compare cars and enjoy the whole of the Beaulieu attraction.

This eighth Simply Porsche, which will be held in association with The Independent Porsche Enthusiasts’ Club (TIPEC), is part of Beaulieu’s growing Simply range which features 13 Simply rallies in the 2020 line-up.

Event-goers can browse a variety of trade stands offering accessories, books and model cars, while throughout the day there is the chance to vote for your favourite Porsche of the show in the People’s Choice Award, with the winner receiving a Beaulieu trophy.

For more Porsche excitement, don’t forget to head inside the National Motor Museum to see the 1969 Porsche 917K, which made a star appearance in the Steve McQueen film Le Mans.

Event tickets include entry to the whole of the Beaulieu attraction, including the National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, On Screen Cars, Secret Army exhibition, the Montagu ancestral home of Palace House, Beaulieu Abbeyand its grounds and gardens. For family fun all together, adventurous new play area Little Beaulieu will open its fantasy palace for big and little kids from March 15th.

For those driving Porsches into Beaulieu to take part in the show, participant tickets are £10.50 an adult and £5.25 a child (aged 5-16) if bought in advance online before 5pm on June 4th, or £12.50 an adult and £6 a child if bought later or on arrival. All other visitors can buy a standard Beaulieu attraction ticket. For tickets and details see

Christopher Macgowan


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Holden: end of the road.

End of the road: Giving voice to Holden workers’ experiences

This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Monash University.

Like a beloved relative who dies after a long illness, Holden’s decision to leave Australia wasn’t surprising – but it is a cause for sadness, and an opportunity to look back on what’s been lost.

Generations of Australians grew up with Holdens – for many people, Sunday drives, family holidays and first driving lessons all happened in a Holden. An Australian television comedy was named after the Kingswood, and surfers drove a Sandman, which had room for surfboards and a mattress in the back. In 1979, the Holden Commodore achieved record sales.

The Holden was named after a South Australian family who began as saddlers in 1856 and later moved into car manufacturing. When the US-based General Motors bought the company in 1931, it kept the family name and, post-war, used it to brand a car made for the local market.

Most significantly, tens of thousands of Australians and their families relied on General Motors Holden. When GMH stopped manufacturing cars in Australia in 2017, oral historians in South Australia and Victoria, the home of Holden HQ, began collecting memories from the company’s workers for a project to be housed at the National Library of Australia.

Many of these workers were immigrants, who played an important role in assembling the Australian car.

Monash University’s Professor Alistair Thomson is a key part of the project, and says “every former Holden worker I have interviewed … has been angry about General Motors’ withdrawal from Australian car manufacturing, and about our federal government’s decision not to subsidise an Australian car industry.

“They argue that governments in every other significant economy continue to support a national car industry, not just because of the direct and indirect employment it ensures, but also because of the essential manufacturing skills the industry sustains and develops.”

He says that in their interviews these workers also often referred to the Holden “family” – a family with its own tensions and hierarchies.

“If workers were loyal, their loyalty was earned not by the company, but by good bosses who treated them well,” he says.

Holden provided steady work, especially for new migrants who spoke little English but found their first working home in Holden’s factories.

Italian migrant Tony Liberatore, for example, started at the GMH Fishermans Bend plant in 1954.

“When Tony Liberatore’s foreman asked him to work on Christmas Day, Tony knew his wife would not be happy, but agreed he would do it for the foreman but ‘not for GM’,” Professor Thomson says.

“The foreman repaid the favour by helping Tony win accreditation as a qualified mechanic despite having no formal training.”

He also tells the story of Alex Angelico, a leading hand in prototype development at the Fishermans Bend Build Up Area in the early 2000s.

“When one of his team was ‘having a downer’, he allowed him to sleep it off in a car model which was hoisted into the air so he would be out of sight.

“If you looked after your team, they would work with you.”

Men who started as apprentices at 15 recalled the ‘father figures’ who helped them cope with the intimidating noise, overpowering smells and frenetic activity of a car plant.

Bob Pulford learned this lesson the hard way. He started on the shop floor in the Dandenong paint shop in 1958. Professor Thomson says that during his interview, Pulford “teared up when he recalled a foreman who forced him to work overtime rather than attending the birth of his child”.

“Bob ended up in a senior Holden training role and explained that a good manager would ‘get people to want to work for you’.”

The Australian-born Pulford also said that he learned about other cultures from his “new Australian” workmates at Holden – even taking Italian lessons so he could speak to the men on his line.  

Holden had its own class system, with “separate canteens for three grades of workers: the ‘plebs’ from the shop floor, white-collar ‘staff’, and executive ‘A Groupers’,” Professor Thomson says.

“Workers recall ‘dictatorial’ management cultures and ‘mongrel managers’, especially in the early post-war decades, and then again in the 2000s as sales declined and American bosses became more prominent.

“They recall bitter industrial strife and shop-floor militancy in the late 1960s and early 1970s, periodic lay-offs when supply outstripped demand, and redundancies as the forces of global capitalism closed Australian factories.”

“Workers recall ‘dictatorial’ management cultures and ‘mongrel managers’, especially in the early post-war decades, and then again in the 2000s as sales declined and American bosses became more prominent.”

On the other hand, GMH also generated company loyalty, he says.

“Men who started as apprentices at 15 recalled the ‘father figures’ who helped them cope with the intimidating noise, overpowering smells and frenetic activity of a car plant. The Holden Social Club was a hub of sporting and social activities for employees from all levels and sectors, and the Holden Family Christmas Party is a favourite memory for workers and their children.

“Employee participation schemes encouraged workers to devise production improvements, with cash prizes for successful innovations.

“Employee development schemes provided training and promotion opportunities. Some managers, in certain periods, implemented ‘people-centred’, ‘participative’ management – and workers responded positively to such collegial approaches.”

Tony Liberatore stopped working at Holden in 1988 when the Dandenong Vehicle Assembly Plant closed. He said he was “very sad” to farewell his workmates and lose his “second family”.

The Holden oral history project began just after General Motors Holden closed its last car assembly plant at Elizabeth in Adelaide in 2017.

At that stage, GMH said it would no longer make cars in Australia, but there would still be a Holden car, with Australian design, testing and sales. GMH even agreed to contribute funds to the Australia Research Council-funded Linkage project, alongside other industry linkage partners The National Motor Museum and the National Library of Australia, Professor Thomson says.

Then, on February 17, 2020, Holden’s Senior Vice-President (International Operations) Julian Blissett announced the brand would be retired from sales in Australia and New Zealand. Mr Blissett said the decision was “based on global priorities and does not reflect the hard work, talent and professionalism of the Holden team”.

“Holden was not always a happy family, yet for many workers, over many years, Holden provided steady, well-paid work, and generated pride in creating ‘Australia’s own car’,” Professor Thomson says.

“Holden was made by new and old Australians, but it was owned by a US company that, in the end, was motivated by profit more than people.”

Former Holden workers who are interested in being interviewed for the project should contact the project officer, Clare Parker, via email:, or telephone: (08) 8313 6352. They’re especially keen to interview women, migrant and shop-floor workers, as well as people who worked at Fishermans Bend or the Lang Lang testing centre in recent years.

This article was first published on Monash Lens. Read the original article

Christopher Macgowan


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Land Speed Record breaking 1920 Sunbeam 350hp

The National Motor Museum’s Land Speed Record breaking 1920 Sunbeam 350hp has been fitted with a replacement gearbox to match its rebuilt engine, decades after losing its original gearbox.

The ongoing project to restore and preserve Sir Malcolm Campbell’s iconic machine, which set a 150mph World Land Speed Record nearly a century ago, has been a labour of love for Beaulieu’s workshop engineers.

Having painstakingly rebuilt its complex V12 engine, they triumphantly took this landmark vehicle back to Pendine Sands in South Wales in 2015, for a low-speed reconstruction of its World Land Speed Record 90 years earlier.

However, while the engine was then in fine fettle, the non-original gearbox has always been the Achilles’ heel in this car’s history and has long been the missing part of its puzzle. At some point after World War II, the original gearbox was removed and by the time the Sunbeam became an exhibit at the National Motor Museum, it was fitted with a temporary gearbox from an Albion 35hp. Only designed to handle a tenth of the engine’s power, this gearbox also lacked a transmission brake – an important part of the Sunbeam’s original brake set-up.

Reinstating a suitable gearbox has been a priority for the engineers, as the next stage of the car’s ongoing preservation. With help from the museum’s supporters, a sturdy Bentley C-type gearbox has been sourced and adapted to fit the Sunbeam’s chassis with custom-made mounts. This unit has proven, in other applications, to be well suited to the task of handling the colossal power of the 18-litre V12 engine.

Best of all, this is enabling the engineers to install a robust and historically correct transmission brake and propshaft. Once the full installation has been completed, the Sunbeam will have the robust transmission its mighty engine deserves.

The 1920 Sunbeam 350hp can usually be seen on display at the National Motor Museum, as part of a multi-media presentation which also features its record-breaking stablemates the 1927 Sunbeam 1,000hp, 1929 Golden Arrow and 1960 Bluebird CN7.

Although great strides have been made, a project such as this cannot be rushed. Further funding is always required for the ongoing preservation of the museum’s collection. If you are keen to help with funding support, please get in touch at

The National Motor Museum’s collection of over 280 vehicles is world-famous, along with its extensive range of motoring artefacts, photographic images, specialist reference library and film and video library. For more information about its collection and services see

Visitors can enjoy all of the features of the attraction with a ticket to Beaulieu, including entry to the National Motor Museum, On Screen Cars, World of Top Gear, the ancestral Montagu home Palace House, Secret Army exhibition, Beaulieu Abbey and its grounds and gardens. Tickets can be bought in advance online. For tickets and details see or call 01590 612345.

Christopher Macgowan


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