1890 - 1912
The automobile arrives in South Australia
This is not a history of the motor car in South Australia but of a company which sells and services it. Even so, something needs to be said about the development of motoring in the State in general, for companies such as the one whose history this book describes played their part in the early story of the motor trade in South Australia. In fact when Behrens & Marshall, as the Maughan Thiem company was first called, made its appearance it was only some fourteen years since motor vehicles had made a tentative and exploratory appearance in the state.
World developments in motor travel began to catch up with South Australia in the latter half of the 1890s in two nearly simultaneous ways. On the one hand a few pioneers produced their own experimental automobiles, and on the other hand some began to order vehicles from overseas. Naturally enough, the local products of that time were of great importance and interest to their creators and those associated with them: but it was to be some time before cars were produced commercially in South Australia, and these early experimental models had little effect on early motorised transport. The imported vehicles came in far greater numbers and were more important to the community of that time and, incidentally, for the fortunes of those who sold and serviced them.
1912 - 1928
A business is launched
The Maughan Thiem Motor Company Pty. Ltd. was formally inaugurated by an indenture dated 2 July 1912 containing the Articles of Partnership between Hubert Andrew Behrens and Eric Myles Marshall. The partnership was for an initial period of four years and nine months dating from the first day of July 1912. The firm, it was noted, traded under the name Behrens & Marshall, and the first article of partnership stated that the partnership business shall be that of Motor and Cycle Builders and Electricians and Importers of Motor and Electrical goods and Appliances and shall be carried on at Flinders Street Adelaide, aforesaid upon the Leasehold premises acquired by the said partners or at such other place or places as the partners may from time to time agree upon.
1912 - 1928
A progressive firm
The firm of Behrens & Marshall started its career, according to the articles of partnership dated 2 July 1912, as motor and cycle builders and electricians and importers of motor and electrical goods and appliances. The skills of the two foundation partners were thus included in the official statement of the business of the partnership; Behrens was an engineer, Marshall an electrical engineer.
1920 - 1935
Prosperity and depression
The changes which took place within the management of Behrens & Marshall in 1920 clearly decided the direction in which the firm was to develop in the future. It was to continue as a motor company, and agencies unrelated to that development could be handled by the Behrens-Thiem company. Johnnie Behrens himself had retired from the firm in August 1920, and with him disappeared any temptation to deviate from this course.
1935 - 1958
Recovery and expansion
By the end of 1935 the management of the Maughan Thiem company could find in the firm’s profit and loss accounts some hopes that the depression had been weathered, and an increasing profitability in the next few years confirmed these hopes. The firm set about staging its recovery after the depression once again on the recipe for success on which it had based its past achievements. It had in the past sought agencies for vehicles likely to attract good business, and as some had declined or proved unprofitable they had been replaced or supplemented by others.
1958 - 1972
The Ford Franchise
In 1957 the Managing Director, Mr Bruce Thiem, visited England. This visit became an important event for Maughan Thiem, for it resulted in the discussions with the Ford motor company which were to affect Maughan Thiem’s future development.
1972 • 1982
Port Road Cheltenham
At the end of its seventieth year Maughan Thiem Motor Company is the oldest surviving Ford dealer in Adelaide. The first eleven years of the company’s history were closely associated with the Model T Ford car, and the company has held the Ford franchise for the past twenty-four years. In all, the company has spent half of its long life under the Ford emblem.
Capitalising On The Past 70 Years
The dawn of the 1980s heralded a period in which Maughan Thiem’s reputation for delivering extremely high levels of customer service became cemented into the fabric of motoring in South Australia and beyond. Dr. Ian Forbes’ publication, which is contained in the first seven chapters of this website, was launched in July 1982.
Seeking New Opportunities
By the time 1990 arrived, interest rates in Australia had hit seventeen percent, producing an immediate negative impact on consumption and reducing inflation dramatically.
Outrunning The Pace Of Change
The new millennium brought with it a feeling that many changes were on the horizon. The unknown impacts of the mysterious, so-called “millennium bug” were expected to cause immediate disruption as soon as the clocks ticked over to the new year. Computers were expected to crash, sending entire cities back to the stone age. New years eve 1999 felt as though it was the final celebration before disaster hit.