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The Hartnett Car
Image: Motor Car - Hartnett, circa 1950
Source: Museum Victoria
The Hartnett car was built by the Hartnett Motor Company Ltd. It was based on the French Gregoire light car with some parts being built under licence. Gregoire had just over 10% of the 400,000 ordinary shares issued by the Hartnett Motor Co. in October 1949 but only about half of these shares had been taken up by April 1951.
Former GM-H Managing Director (Sir) Laurence Harnett established the firm to fill a perceived gap in the market for a small economical car. It utilised aluminium chassis castings to save weight and reduce costs associated with tooling required for steel components. The front end of the roof, windscreen surround, upper dash and cowl is a single casting which bolts to the lower dash and chassis frame. A total of six sections bolt together to make the chassis. It was fitted with a two-cylinder horizontally opposed engine. Hard-top 'Tasman' and soft-top 'Pacific' body styles were offered. A station wagon version was also planned. The Hartnett Motor Co. also acted as an agent for British-built Lea-Francis cars in Victoria and NSW via its subsidiary Hartnett Distributors.
By 1950 a large number of Hartnett cars had been ordered but the contractor for the steel body panels, Commonwealth Engineering did not deliver the required panels which forced the Hartnett Company to build panels by hand and some 135 cars were completed.The Company went out of business in 1955 and litigation later established that Commonwealth Engineering had failed to honour its contract but this was too late to save the Hartnett Motor Co.
According to the State Library of Queensland, in 1957 a plant was set up in Brisbane to assemble the German Lloyd Alexander car. This car, with the same sized motor and similar sized body to the original Hartnett, became known as the Lloyd Hartnett. Unfortunately, Lloyd soon stuck financial difficulties and imported components for the car dried up.
Laurence Hartnett began to import Nissan cars from Japan in 1959 which soon became popular with the motoring public, establishing Nissan/Datsun as a major supplier of small cars in Australia.
State Library of Qld web site http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/serv/car/garage/features/hartnett accessed 13/10/06
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Hartnett motor car, two door sedan, circa 1950. One of 135 cars built by a firm led by Sir Laurence Hartnett, between 1950 and 1954. Serial No. & Engine No: 1012. The Museum's Hartne ...Images: 3