Australian Six

The Australian Six Story (Summary)

Mr. Frederick Hugh Gordon was an early motoring pioneer who recognized the tremendous opportunities that the modern automobile would bring to Australia. Through his Company F. H. Gordon & Company, he was involved in the Motoring Industry from the beginning. He and his colleagues made several trips to America and they met quite a number of the leaders of the American Automotive Industry of the time, including Mr. Louis Chevrolet. Chevrolet was prepared to supply components of the American Six to F. H. Gordon to assemble and sell as his own car in Australia. Gordon was in America at the end of the WW 1 and immediately set in place his plans to import the components for the assembly of his cars in Australia. Back in Australia, Gordon announced to the motoring public in February 1919 that he was about to commence production of a locally assembled six cylinder car, which he had called “The Australian Six”. The cars would be assembled at his factory in McLaughlin Avenue, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney.


The first production cars were available for sale by March/April 1919. Production continued at steady pace for the remainder of 1919. In September 1919 F. H. Gordon joined with John Joshua Hughes and David Buchanan Martin to form a new company, Australian Motors Limited to manufacture the Australian Six on a much larger scale. Gordon's relations with his fellow shareholders seems to have quickly soured. By February 1920 he was in Court F. H. Gordon & Co Ltd last appeared as the agent for Australian Six in May 1920 and by November of that year the other directors had agreed to amalgamate the company with Australian Motors Ltd who initially took over the sales responsibilities.

Move to Parramatta Road, Ashfield.

After the formation of Australian Motors Ltd. Messrs. John Joshua Hughes and David Buchanan Martin took over the control of the manufacturing operations for The Australian Six. It was their belief that for the new company to succeed then the Company must mass produce The Australian Six. They commissioned the construction of new a new factory in Parramatta Road, Ashfield that would be equipped with latest overseas machinery to mass produce The Australian Six. The factory opened in February 1920 and when at peak capacity had 210 employees.A new Company, Australian Six Motor Sales Ltd was registered on 23rd March 1921 to take over the sales of The Australian Six.

Disaster Strikes

Within weeks of the new venture commencing operations, shareholder in both the production and sales companies and Production Manager, Mr. David Buchanan Martin died suddenly. Then a matter of weeks later a second disaster strikes when the Parent Company of the major shareholder in the sales company, Savage Tyres Ltd - New Zealand, went into Receivership, bringing down the local operations of Savage Tyres as well. The impact of these two events was too much for the fledgling Company to withstand and within six weeks of being launched the Australian Six Motor Sales Limited was also forced into Liquidation. Australian Motors Limited struggled on for the remainder of 1921 but in January 1922 liquidation commenced, culminating in the sale of the companies assets to a new company, Australian Six Motors Limited in February 1923. The principals in this company were Messrs Simon Kemelfield and Samuel and Jacob Diamond. Harkness & Hillier On 23rd August 1923 the well known engineering firm of Harkness & Hillier negotiated the purchase of Australian Six Motors from the Diamond Bros & Kemelfield. By this time the manufacturing operations of Australian Six had been cut back from the levels when the Company was at its peak. Initially Harkness & Hillier operated from a small section of the Ashfield premises to reduce costs, however the Financial failure of one of the Banks who underwrote the supporting Mortgage over the Premises at Parramatta Road, Ashfield forced the owners of the Parramatta Road premises to terminate the rental agreement with Harkness & Hillier, forcing them to find alternative premises in which to continue their manufacturing operations of the Australian Six. Harkness & Hillier constructed new premises to assemble the Australian Six in Parramatta Road, Five Dock, not far from the original premises in Ashfield. Production of the Australian Six continued under the Management of Harkness & Hillier. On the 17th July 1925 a fire a destroyed a Bond Store containing the entire stock of parts required for the construction of the Australian Six.


The fire brought to an end the most ambitious attempt to establish the Six Cylinder Motor Car Assembly Industry in Australia until the arrival of the Holden in November 1948, exactly 30 years after the assembly of the first Australian Six. The Australian Six Adventure spanned seven years, during which time they produced an estimated 500 vehicles.

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