Australian Built Cars

G'day all

Some Oz Bugeye history for you.

The first Bugeyes exported to Australia left the UK factory on 2 September 1958. We have two known cars from this shipment, AN5/4165 (which I own) and AN5/4283 (belonging to David Lawrence). There cars were fully assembled, on 29 August and 28 August respectively. Yes, I know the assembly dates are in the reverse order to the car numbers! Neither of these cars has been restored, and they are in original condition, never having had even an engine change. Sadly, both are not the original colours, but that will be fixed when their turn comes for restoration.

AN5/18659 was the last fully assembled car to come here. It was built on 11 June 1959 and left the factory on 2 July 1959. We don't know where it is.

AN5/23053 was the first of the CKD (Completely Knocked Down) kits to come here, where it was assembled at the Austin Motor Company (Australia) Pty Ltd factory at Joynton Avenue, Zetland in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. The crate of parts left the UK factory on 18 September 1959. Australian assembled cars were given car numbers prefixed with YHAN1/8, so when assembled here this car became YHAN1/8/23053. We don't know where it is.

The cars were also stamped (on the firewall near the left bonnet hinge) with an Australian build number, 501 for the first car built here.

When I say "AN5/23053 was the first of the CKD (Completely Knocked Down) kits to come here", it is actually the Oz built car with the lowest car number, but it was not the first car off the Oz assembly line. This honour belongs to YHAN1/8/23058/501

In September 1960, the prefix changed to YHAN1/9/*****

The last CKD kit to come here was YHAN1/9/49936/1394, the kit having left the UK factory on 13 January 1961. This car belongs to our club member Brian Copland. It also is in original condition.

And the last Bugeye was AN5/50116, built in the UK in May 1961, exact date not recorded.

There are no records of the assembly dates of the Oz built cars. BMC (Australia) threw them out! All the above comes from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust records or the ID plates on the cars (see below).

There could be some minor differences in assembly of Oz built cars, where the guys at Zetland decided to "improve" on the instruction issued by their UK cousins. However, the parts with which the cars were assembled (body shell, engine, g'box, suspension etc) all came from the same place as the UK built cars, and are identical to them in every way. It seems that every month or so a pile of parts went into a crate bound for Oz, instead of travelling down the UK assembly line.

The only parts that I know for sure are different are the battery and tyres, which were locally sourced, the paint colours, and the car ID plates. Oz built cars do not have a plate attached to the rail underneath the carbies, nor do they have plates inside the door openings. Instead they have a larger plate on the firewall between the left bonnet hinge and the battery.

Here's the ID plate of YHAN1/9/48660/1178 together with photos of the Car Number on the chassis rail, and the Australian build number near the left side bonnet hinge.

ID plate     Australian build number 1178     Car number 48660

All CKD cars came here in primer, and were painted at Zetland, in either Rhiems Blue, Nurgburg White, Monza Red or British Racing Green - the four national racing colours of France, Germany, Italy or England. If you didn't like these colours that were on the showroom floor, you could ask for any colour of your choice, and sit back and wait until the car came off the assembly line for you. Other known colours are Carnation Red, Card Red, LeMans Blue, Mineral Blue, Aintree Green, Heron White, Bill Blue, Monaco Blue and Old English White.

And that's probably enough for me today.