The Holderness Motorist’s Guide for New South Wales – 1915

Through my interest in early Australian motoring history, I have made contacts with several like-minded individuals, one of whom sent me a hard copy of this very interesting and informative publication.


The bulk of the guide is the complete listing of all persons who owned motor cars in my home state of New South Wales in early 1915, as well as other items of interest for motorists. Holderness Motors Limited were located in the eastern Sydney suburb of Randwick, and were one of the largest hire-car operators in Sydney at the time. From what I can gather, similar guides had been published by Holderness since at least 1910. Holderness offered a direct marketing service to advertisers by providing envelopes with addresses of the car owners mentioned in the Guide, into which advertising materials could be placed.

Here are examples of some of the information contained in the Guide:

  • The speed limit within four miles of the General Post Office was 15 mph.
  • Drivers were not to drive a car backwards more than what is absolutely necessary.
  • All of the towns where petrol could be obtained were listed, so that drivers on country trips could fill up and not end up running out of petrol between towns.

Up to the end of March 31, there were 10,734 privately registered motor vehicles in New South Wales. The most popular makes were:

  1.  Ford                2,144
  2. Overland          659
  3. Buick               403
  4. Hupmobile       390
  5. Renault            361
  6. Talbot              350
  7. FIAT                 288
  8. Studebaker     263

There were 583 cars in total whose individual makes had less then 10 cars registered, along with 68 cars whose makes were unknown. Some of the lesser known makes to feature on the list include Astor, Chenard-Walcker, Pierce-Arrow, Lacre, New Parry, I.H.C, Briscoe, Simms-Welbeck, Deasy, New Pick, Innes, Mors, Black Crow, Thomas Flyer, Orient, Rochet-Schneider, Vermorel, Gladiator, Hall, Mass, Bell, Penn, Kissell, La Licorne, Bentall, Unic, Paterson, Adams, Hansa, Alpena, Winton, Marion, Jackson and Abbott.

Every motor car dealer in New South Wales was located either in the Sydney central business district, or in an inner suburb such as Redfern, Glebe or Petersham. It wasn’t until after the end of World War 1 that dealerships were established in country towns. If a country resident bought a car, the firm would send a driver to personally deliver the car to the customer. The driver would then give the owner some basic information on simple mechanical repairs, and possibly even include a driving lesson. The driver would then have to arrange his own way back to the dealership.

Number plates were pretty simple – starting at #1 and working upwards. The first number in use in New South Wales was #2, and the largest number was #13908. Taxi-cab number plates were included in these plates as well.


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