AUSTRALIAN MOTOR INDUSTRIES (AMI) was an automobile assembly firm
that was significant in the early history of the automotive industry
* 1 Start of production
* 2 Reorganization
* 3 Operations with AMC
START OF PRODUCTION
The origins of
Australian Motor Industries
Import tariffs on vehicles encouraged the growth of the Australian vehicle body building industry from the early 1920s. The tax concessions varied with the degree of local content.
Changes within the industry saw the consolidation of the principal manufacturers and the demise of the smaller body builders. The Port Melbourne assembly plant was one of many new facilities which were set up to meet the post war demand for new vehicles. By 1955 the assembly complex had expanded to 33 acres (0.13 km2; 0.052 sq mi) of land and the new engine assembly plant had a capacity of 100 engines per eight-hour shift.
Standard Motor Products Ltd was unusual in the Australian motor industry because of the high Australian shareholding of the company; 88% in 1952 when the Australian company bought out its English partner. The remaining shares were held by the Standard Motor Company UK. As a sign of the close co-operation between the two companies, Sir John Black was made president of SMP and Arthur F. Crosby remained as chairman. His brother, Clive C. Crosby, became the managing director.
In 1958 the company negotiated an agreement with Daimler-Benz to assemble and distribute Mercedes Benz vehicles in Australia. In recognition of this new agreement the company was renamed Australian Motor Industries and a new subsidiary company was formed to handle the Mercedes Benz franchise.
Through its long association with the Standard Motor Company, AMI also held the franchise for Triumph cars and assembled Ferguson tractors through another subsidiary company of the group, British Farm Equipment. An extensive dealer network throughout NSW and Victoria saw Standard cars and Ferguson tractors sold side by side in country areas. The most popular car sold was the Vanguard model.
1961 Mercedes-Benz 220SEb assembled by AMI
In October 1960, AMI signed an agreement with American Motors
Corporation (AMC) to assemble the Rambler range of cars from complete
knock down (CKD) kits. Another deal with
AMI ran into financial trouble during the Australian credit squeeze of 1961 and the company was forced to sell off many assets and vehicle stock to remain solvent. Part of the restructure resulted in the sale of their share in the Mercedes Benz franchise to the German parent company.
In 1963 the company secured the Australian franchise for
Other cars assembled by AMI included the Rambler range from American Motors and Triumph cars from Leyland Motors . Leyland had inherited shares in AMI when it had merged with Standard-Triumph International in 1961. During the early 1960s the foreign share of the automobile motor vehicle market was estimated to be 95%, and as the only sizeable producer with a local equity, AMI continued to manufacture overseas designs.
AMI assembled the Triumph Herald from 1959 to 1966 and produced some unique Australian models. The Triumph 2000/2500 range was assembled in Port Melbourne from 1964 to the mid-1970s.
By 1965, the demise of the
OPERATIONS WITH AMC
Starting in 1960, AMI assembled a broad range of AMC cars, all with right-hand drive and carried the Rambler brand name. This meant that Australians could purchase a Rambler Javelin , AMX , Hornet , Rebel , or Matador long after the Rambler marque was dropped from use on the equivalent U.S.-market models.
Complete knock down kits were shipped from AMC's Kenosha, Wisconsin
facility (all knock-down kits to all assembly operations were from
Kenosha), but the Australian cars were assembled with a percentage of
"local content" to gain tariff concessions. This was done using parts
and components (such as seats, carpet, lights, and heaters) from local
Australian suppliers. AMI specified what parts were not to be included
in the unassembled kits sent by AMC. Other necessary parts specified
by the assembler were boxed and shipped for assembly at the final
destination in Australia. It is unknown exactly how many parts were
included to be installed by the assembly operation, that varied with
each operation. Outside colors were chosen by AMI and were the same as
used on AMI assembled Triumph and
A total of 24 AMC AMXs , all 1969 models were made by AMI between August, 1969 and July, 1970. All featured the 343 cu in (5.6 L) V8s . Differences to the RHD two-seater AMXs compared to the U.S. models included swapping the power brake booster and heater motor on the firewall, the power steering pump remained in its usual left location, although the rest of the steering components had to be on the right side of the cars. All of the Australian AMX interiors were finished in black featuring a unique RHD dashboard with a wood-grained instrument cluster in front of the driver. While the AMX was marketed as a performance muscle car in the U.S. marketplace, the Australian AMXs came with a large high level of equipment that was optional in the U.S., and these AMXs were advertised as personal luxury cars . Interior of the only 1970 Rambler Gremlin assembled by AMI
One AMC Gremlin was also assembled AMI in Port Melbourne for evaluation purposes and branded as a "Rambler Gremlin". The car features the standard 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6 engine with three-speed manual transmission, as well as right-hand drive and the mandated percentage of locally produced content.
The Australian assembled Rebel was assembled from 1967 until 1971, even though the last year of the American model was 1970. 345 Rebels were assembled in 1970 and a further 307 in 1971. Australian Rebels were equipped with the round dials of the 1967 AMC Ambassador for all models and was continued with the 1971-1974 Australian assembled AMC Matador .
From 1971, Australian assembled Matadors were equipped with standard column shift automatic transmissions, power steering, power windows, air conditioning, and an AM radio. The engine in the later years was AMC's 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8 . Options included exterior sunvisor, vinyl roof cover, tow hitch , and mud flaps. Registrations for AMC vehicles dropped after 1974. A total of 118 Hornets and 145 Matadors (118 sedans, 27 wagons) were sold during 1974. Registrations for 1975 were 136 Hornets and 118 Matadors (85 sedans 33 wagons). In 1976 there were 88 Matadors (78 sedans, 10 wagons), while 1977 saw just 24 Matador sedans and 3 wagons. Additionally, Matador coupe CKD kits arrived in late-1974, and the assembly of 80 cars began in 1976. One fully assembled AMC Pacer was imported for evaluation purposes.
American Motors cars were assembled in Port Melbourne by AMI up to 1978. The company retained a niche market as the sole U.S. sourced cars available in the Australian marketplace. For example, the Government of New South Wales selected the Rambler Rebel and the Matador as official vehicles in the 1970s.
TOYOTA AND BUYOUT
Recognizing the majority owner of the company and the products that
it manufactured and marketed, AMI renamed itself as AMI
The Japanese company then amalgamated the company with its other
Australian operations in 1989 to form two arms.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _
Australian Motor Industries