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
Toyota and buyout
* 5 Notes
* 6 Further reading
* 7 External links
START OF PRODUCTION
Standard Vanguard was produced by AMI from 1958 to 1964
The origins of
Australian Motor Industries
Australian Motor Industries can be traced back to 1926
when J.F. Crosby decided to invest in Eclipse Motors Pty Ltd of
Melbourne. In 1929 the company secured the Victorian agency for
Standard Motor Company
Standard Motor Company 's cars, then changed the company name to
Talbot and Standard Motors, and began a steady period of expansion
with the Standard marque through the 1930s. In 1952 the Crosby family
formed a holding company, Standard Motor Products Ltd, in co-operation
Standard Motor Company
Standard Motor Company of England to assemble cars at their
new assembly plant in Port Melbourne. The subsidiary company
responsible for vehicle assembly was the Standard Motor Company
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
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
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.
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
Fiat was planned to replace
the Ferguson tractors distributed by BFE. The Standard Motor Company
had sold their tractor facility in Coventry to
Massey Ferguson and
focused on automobile production.
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
In 1963 the company secured the Australian franchise for
and began assembly of the Tiara range. From this point the financial
position of the company steadily improved and by 1967 AMI was
assembling 32 different models for the Australian market, as well as
importing fully assembled
Toyota Corollas for their dealer network.
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
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
Standard Vanguard and the loss of assembly
Mercedes-Benz vehicles left AMI with additional capacity to
assemble Rambler , Triumph , and
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
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
Toyota cars of that period. The
distinctive AMI exterior emblems were used on Ramblers, as well as
Toyota cars assembled by AMI from 1968 onward. 1969
Rambler AMX assembled by AMI
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
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
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
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
Government of New South Wales selected the Rambler Rebel and the
Matador as official vehicles in the 1970s.
TOYOTA AND BUYOUT
Toyota Tiara was the first
Toyota model assembled by AMI
Toyota car ever built outside Japan was assembled by AMI in
April 1963, the
Toyota Tiara . The AMI production of Toyotas expanded
in the 1960s to also include the Crown, Corona, and Corolla assembled
at AMI's Port Melbourne factory.
Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan
purchased 10% of outstanding AMI shares. As a fast-growing company,
it took a controlling interest in AMI in 1968 as a contract with the
British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd was signed.
purchased a 40% share in Thiess Holdings, an importer of light
commercial vehicles, which it renamed Thiess Toyota.
Recognizing the majority owner of the company and the products that
it manufactured and marketed, AMI renamed itself as AMI
Toyota Ltd in
1985. The company continued to be listed on the Australian Stock
Exchange with a minority Australian shareholding until 1987, when
Toyota moved to acquire the shares held by the remaining shareholders.
The Japanese company then amalgamated the company with its other
Australian operations in 1989 to form two arms.
Australia which was responsible for passenger vehicles and
Toyota Motor Sales
Australia which was responsible for both Toyota
commercial vehicles and Hino trucks.
Toyota vehicle production was transferred from the historic Port
Melbourne factory to the company’s new $420 million facility at
Altona, Victoria in 1994. The Australian facility now exports CKD kits
to assembly plants in
Vietnam , and
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Australian Motor Industries
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* ^ "Historic
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* ^ History of
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* ^ "
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* Stubbs, Peter C. (1972). The Australian motor industry: a study in
protection and growth. Cheshire for the Institute of Applied Economic
and Social Research, University of Melbourne.