Duncan & Fraser Ltd. 1865-1927
"Ford Sales Structure in South Australia"

Huppatz - Saddleworth SA c1918

Huppatz's Garage in Saddleworth, South Australia ca 1918. Photo courtesy SLSA B17637

Sole Distributors

In 1907 the Ford Motor Company of Canada saw Australia "...as their largest single foreign market". With the immediate success of the Model 'T' they sought to organise their business and capitalise in this so far untapped oasis. In August 1909 the head of Ford Canada and set up an Australian Office in Melbourne with Mr. R.J. Durance at the helm. Ford Canada sought sole distributors for each state and the initial appointments were:-

Tarrant Motor Company Victoria
Davis & Fehon Motors Ltd. New South Wales (except Broken Hill)
Queensland Motor Company Queensland
Graves & Dwyer Motors Ltd. Western Australia
Duncan & Fraser South Australia & Broken Hill
D.R.S. Nettleford & Co. Tasmania

In August 1909 Duncan & Fraser were appointed sole distributors for South Australia and Broken Hill in New South Wales. Each state dealt directly with Ford Canada establishing their own importing arrangements, shipping, customs, sales, servicing, spare parts and pricing.

Duncan & Fraser Company Branches

Duncan & Fraser initially set up company branches to service their needs. The first branch was set up in 1906 at Mount Gambier selling Argyll & Standard cars to service the fruit and vinyards in the affluent Coonawarra region. From Mount Gambier the area immediately over the border of south western Victoria was also within easy distance. Later a second branch was set up in Hahndorf in 1912 giving the company a proper foothold in the rapidly expanding and very rich Adelaide Hills region.

Local Garages

Duncan & Fraser encouraged local garages to service Ford products fitting only genuine spare parts with the famous Ford flying winged pyramid logo sign normally adorning their premises. This sales and servicing strategy remained in place and served Ford well for a number of years.

"Urban" & "Limited Urban" Dealers

Ford sales increased dramatically and in May 1918 Duncan & Fraser Ltd. broke up their sole area that by now included the Darling Districts and appointed "Urban Dealers" and "Limited Urban Dealers" to service the growing market. The difference between the two was an "Urban Dealer" could sell everywhere where a "Limited Urban Dealer" had to stay within their appointed territory. Duncan & Fraser Ltd. appointed themselves as an "Urban Dealer" and Behrens & Marshall (later The Henry Car Co.) as the first "Limited Urban Dealer". This arrangement proved to be unpopular as Behrens & Marshall's salesmen could not go outside of their allocated territory, but a Duncan & Fraser Ltd. salesman could come in and undercut their potential sales. The feeling was that the Duncans were being greedy by importing and retailing Ford cars so "not only have their cake but eat it too". It was this growing resentment that French would later encounter.

Duncan Motors Limited

Ford Canada were concerned with sole distributors selling other products apart from Ford. In Duncan & Fraser's case over the years these included Oldsmobile, Argyll, Standard, BSA, Itala, Kelsey, Singer, Chalmers, De Dion Bouton, Duplex Lorries, Republic Lorries, Hallford Lorries and of course electric tramcars. The Duncans as holders of the South Australian distributorship were under immense pressure from Ford Canada with their other business interests and finally relented by annexing the Ford distributorship. In October 1920 a new company Duncan Motors Limited was formed to sell and service only Ford products. Duncan & Fraser Ltd. sold and serviced all other makes and other parts of the business. In effect the two companies both owned by the Duncans were under the same roof with Duncan Motors Ltd. occupying western side of the factory and Duncan & Fraser Ltd. on the eastern side servicing all other brands.The painted signage outside the factory was changed to reflect the change in structure.

Ford Dealerships

By 1922 the sales territories were properly organised by the appointment of Ford dealerships. A Ford dealer, normally appointed in a region or town, signed an agreement to sell new cars, maintain a full inventory of genuine Ford spare parts & accessories and offer full mechanical service to maintain the product. Ford dealerships have remained part of Australia to the present day. When Ford Canada formed Ford Australia in March 1925 Duncan Motors Ltd. lost their sole distributorship and was downgraded to a dealership, albeit the largest in South Australia. The oldest Ford dealership in South Australia is Maughan Thiem's at Cheltenham, Adelaide. Formerly known as Behrens & Marshall they have been selling and servicing Ford products since 1912.

South Australian Ford Dealerships

In the December 1922 "The Echo" Duncan Motors Ltd. published a complete list of all 35 official Ford Dealers for South Australia & Broken Hill. These were:-

The Henry Car Company Adelaide, Flinders Street
Schrapel & Nettell Angaston
Freeman, S.W.G Ardrossan
Underwood, A.S. Balaklava
Buzacott, R. Blyth
Barrier Motors Broken Hill (New South Wales)
Smith, A.E. Clare
Kraehe, E. Cleve
The Jervois Motor Works Cowell
Murdoch Bros. Crystal Brook
Leditschke & Jansen Eudunda
Gilbert, A.E. Gawler
Newman, A.C. Jamestown
Rechner, Hawke & Company Kadina
Nerlich, A.H. Kapunda
Lee, W.R. Kooringa
Humphries, E.J. Laura
The Murray Engineering Co. Loxton
Rinder, Geo. Maitland
Gilbert, L.M. Minlaton
May & Davis Mount Gambier
Schubert, A.W. Murray Bridge
Freeman & Dunnett Murat Bay
Parnell, R.T. Orroroo
Smith, W.H. Peterborough
The Smith Motor Company Port Adelaide
Feineler, J. Port Pirie
Carman, S.R.T. Quorn
Rosenthal, M. Renmark
Huppatz, J. Saddleworth
Sampson, A.E. Salisbury
Petney, J.R. Sedan
Hobbs, J.T. Strathalbyn
Schrapel & Sons Ltd., E. Tanunda
Murdoch Bros. Yorketown

In the February 1923 "The Echo" the following newly appointed Ford Dealers for South Australia & Broken Hill were announced:-

Maerschel, F.W. Birdwood
Cato & Smith Clare
Jackson, A.C. Tarlee

In the September 1923 "The Echo" the following newly appointed Ford Dealers for South Australia & Broken Hill were announced:-

Moten, S.F.A. Bordertown
Kingdon, J. Loxton
The Apex Motor Co. Port Augusta

In the December 1923 "The Echo" the following newly appointed Ford Dealers for South Australia & Broken Hill were announced:-

Mervyn Smith Kingscote, Kangaroo Island
Harby, W.S. Port Lincoln
Lightburn & Gardner Unley

In the February 1924 "The Echo" the following newly appointed Ford Dealer for South Australia & Broken Hill was announced:-

Griffen's Garage Victor Harbor

In the March 1924 "The Echo" the following newly appointed Ford Dealers for South Australia & Broken Hill were announced:-

G.A. Plant Barmera
J.E. Zerna & W. Duldig Marrabel Motor Garage, Marrabel
Nugent, W.M. Steaky Bay

In the June 1924 "The Echo" the following newly appointed Ford Dealer for South Australia & Broken Hill was announced:-

Messrs. Kincraig Motor Company Naracoorte

In the December 1924 "The Echo" the following newly appointed Ford Dealers for South Australia & Broken Hill were announced:-

Sampson, P.J. Farrell's Flat
Black, B.C. Minnipa
Messrs. Wallis, Fogarty Limited Oodnadatta

Little is known about the Ford dealerships and we would really like to learn more. Did you have a relative that was involved in selling or servicing Ford cars during this period? Have you an old photograph(s) hidden away in those old, dusty family albums? Do you have any surviving paperwork or contracts? Do you have any original receipts? Do you have an original name plate fitted to Ford cars at the time? If the answer is 'yes' to any of these questions I would love to hear from you.