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General Motors (Australia) Pty. Ltd. - GMA

A little recognised fact is that before GMA in Australia, there was GME (GM Export).  Established in Sydney in 1912, they imported cars for sale and rolling chassis for assembly by others in Australia. A brief history is available here, courtesy of the book “Buick, The Australian Story” by Eric North and John Gertdz.  

Marc McInnes has provided a timeline of GM Export addresses and Managers in Australia, which can be found here.

General Motors (Australia) Pty. Ltd or "GMA" was formed on 1st November, 1926, for the establishment of motor car Assembly Plants at the five base ports in Australia: Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. An approximate expenditure of 400,000 Australian Pounds was made by the Company in setting up Assembly Plants and equipping them with Plant and Machinery, much of which was fabricated in Australia.  They utilized bodies produced by Holden Motor Body Builders and imported Completely Knocked Down  (CKD) chassis.

The Great Depression led to a substantial downturn in production by Holden from 34,000 units annually in 1930 to just 1,651 units one year later. On 1st March, 1931, General Motors purchased Holden Motor Body Builders and merged it with General Motors (Australia) Pty Ltd to form General Motors-Holden's Ltd (GM-H).

Given the short life of GMA (only approximately 4.5 years), any material from that time is considered to be quite rare and sought after by collectors of Australian Motoring history.


1. Australia Builds a Motor Car 

This GMA booklet was published in 1929, and gives a reasonably detailed account of setting up the business of motor car assembly in Australia. It is probably one of the most valuable books available about GMA, being written contemperaneously by the company itself.

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2. Sensible Selling

As the fledgling industry developed, Dealers needed to be brought up to speed with the latest selling techniques.  GMA distributed this book (and others) from GM in the USA to educate the sales force on the art of selling a motor car.

     Vol 1  Vol 2  Vol 3  Vol 4

3. Retail Salesmen

A guide to "Their Selection, Training, Compensation and Supervision".  Published by General Motors (Aust) Pty Ltd, circa 1927.

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4. Where Motor car facts are Established.

GMA Issued version of a GM publication of the same name, describing activities at the GM Proving Ground. 

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5. Original: Where Motor Car Facts are established.

Original GM version of the booklet issued by GMA under the same title.

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6. Motor Progress / General Motors Dealer magazine

 GMA published a monthly series of booklets called "Motor Progress" in a style reminicent of the GMH "Pointers" magazine.  They combined selling tips with news items and advertising.  Publication commenced in October 1926 and ran until December 1927, when they were renamed to 'The General Motors Dealer - "Motor Progress"'.  The "Motor Progress" in the title was finally dropped in December 1929, so the magazine was then called simply "The General Motors Dealer".

  1926  (Vol 1- "Motor Progress")  Oct (1)  Nov (2)  Dec (3)

  1927  (Vol 1 - "Motor Progress")  Feb (5)  May (8)  Jul (10)

            (Vol 2 - "Motor Progress")  Nov (2)  Dec (3)

  1928  (Vol 1 - "The GM Dealer-Motor Progress")  Mar (3)  Jul (7)  Sep (9) Oct (10)  Nov (11)  Dec (12)

  1929  (Vol 2 - "The GM Dealer-Motor Progress")  Jan (1)  Feb (2)  May (5)

  1930  (Vol  3 - "The GM Dealer")   Feb (2)  Mar (3)

 7. Photograph Album of the Official Opening of GM (Aust) Plant at Marrickville, NSW.

When GM began operations in Australia they quickly established Plants in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.  This photograph album records an event on 30th October, 1926, with the Premier of NSW, Mr Jack Lang, performing the official opening at their new Sydney Plant at 10 Carrington St, Marrickville, NSW (This building is still standing and can be seen on Google Streetview).

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A newspaper account of the opening, which explains much of what is happening in the photos, can read here.

8. Report of GMA legal action against trader for fraudelent use of their name.

In 1927, GMA took action against a Parramatta Road second hand car trader, Ernest Sidwell Turner, who was using names similar to the registered names of GM Export Co and GM Australia. The Lower Court decision was in favour of GMA, but the case was then appealed to the High Court.

This account gives the full details of the offence and the findings by the 1929 High Court action.  It also confirms some contentious dates around when the GM companies began and transferred operations in Australia.

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