Getting The Cars to Australia

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2013: Getting The Cars to Australia
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dane Hawley Near Melbourne Australia on Monday, January 28, 2013 - 06:33 am:

There is a lot to yet be discovered regarding the Canadian T and how things happened in Australia, and New Zealand. Below is the result of just some of my research so far.

I do hope that other members here can give me more information that will help the hunt along further.

Getting the Cars To Australia.

There are two main shipping routes from the American continent to Australia. The short way, across the Pacific has ships usually calling at Honolulu, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. The other way was to depart from the East coast of the continent and travel via Capetown, through the Indian Ocean and so to Australia. There was a third option, and that was to leave the East Coast and go via the Panama Canal and across the Pacific to Australia, but of course that was only available later in 1915.

While passenger vessels could manage a fairly rapid trip from Vancouver, for example, to Sydney, of between 20 and 30 days, passengers and freight are two entirely different propositions. A ship of the T era with passengers has a fairly quick turn around time because of the quicker loading and unloading. A freighter takes time to get the holds filled, and intermediate stops will likewise use up much more time before arriving at the destination. As well as that most freighters were slower vessels than the passenger ships, so Vancouver to Sydney would take from 35 to 55 days or longer, even without problems created by breakdown, accident or storms.

Tracking some ships known to have some Fords in their cargo, I have found the following-
1911 SS Solingen New York, Boston, South Africa, Sydney Depart 10th February arrived 17th April. (66 days)
1911 SS Berwicklaw. From Montreal to Sydney Depart 14th April due June 3rd. (49 Days)
1913 SS Berwicklaw Montreal to Sydney Depart June 29th arrives August 15th. (47 days)
1915 SS Berwicklaw Montreal to Sydney Depart 25th October arrives 13th January 1916* (74 Days)
1915 SS Walton Hall Depart New York November 2nd arrives Fremantle January 8th. (67 Days)

* this sailing was supposed to go via Panama canal but it seems from the time taken that it went via Cape Town.

Although I have seen a passing reference to Fords being on a ship from Vancouver, I have not been able to confirm the ship or its sailing times.

It is apparent that most, if not all shipments were made from the Eastern side of the USA and that most ships used the Atlantic/Indian Ocean route.

Freight rates remained fairly steady right up to early 1916 well after the start of the war. Freight was charges at £2/2/6 per ton which works out at US$10.50 per ton. From information that a car-crate for a T measured 6' x 12' x 4', that is 288cu.ft. Which equals 7.2 measured tons. So a whole car in its crate would cost £15/2/6 (US$75.50) to move from Canada to Australia.

Nailing down import duty has been quite difficult, however through from about 1907 to 1915 from what I understand, duty was 35% on whole cars, 35% on car bodies, but only 5% on chassis. There were some interesting, and very confusing calculations under some circumstances where customs officers in effect calculated every fitting on the car and charged accordingly for them at their own particular rates, so lamps would be charged one figure, windscreens another etc., but for the exercise, I believe the above figures to be the usual.

A 1914 Touring car in the US sold for $550. That, I believe was the retail price, including sellerís commission etc. Guessing that the Canadian price was similar, that converts to £132 in Australian currency. Now add on the freight of £15/2/6 and 35% duty. Herein lies a problem because I canít find out the nett cost of the car from Canada upon which to calculate the duty, however for the sake of the exercise letís take the $550 figure. Duty on that would be £46/5/- or equivalent to US$231. All added together that would give a selling price in Australia of £193/7/6 ($966.50). In fact in all states of Australia the cars for 1914 are advertised at £210 ($1050), which is £16/2/6 ($80.50) more than my calculated figure, so one has to assume either that the importer or the dealers are making an extra significant profit or there are some costs that I have not been able to find and include.


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