1972 • 1982

The XR Falcon in 1966, a new Cortina in August 1967 and the XT Falcon in 1968 boosted Maughan Thiem's sales, and the year ended 30th June 1970 saw a record of 2,926 vehicle sales by the company.

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.

Despite its venerable antiquity the company presents a vigorous and modern image to those who visit its premises on Port Road Cheltenham, and this historical account concludes with a brief description of the company’s operations on that site at the end of its first threescore years and ten.

The market for new cars today is highly competitive, and the proportion of company profits earned by new car sales has fluctuated considerably over the years and will doubtless continue to do so. In the company’s seventieth year this was a little under twenty per cent. Maughan Thiem carries a range of models, comprising the Falcon, Fairlane and L.T.D. in the large range, the Cortina and its successor from late 1981 in the medium range, and in the small car range the Laser, which was released in March 1981 as Ford’s first entry into the east-west front-wheel-drive engine range of vehicles. The company also handles several light to medium truck models. The new car sales department is managed by Mr Bruce McFarlane, and it operates from a large modern showroom with ample storage areas at the rear of the premises to hold new stock. A considerable proportion of new sales is to fleet owners, and Mr Ken Evans manages the fleet department. Mrs Gloria Cubitt gives specialist advice to customers in matters of finance and insurance.

The used car sales department is managed by Mr John Lahiff. The company maintains the quality of its reputation by carefully selecting the trade-in vehicles which it displays on its small retail used car yard on Port Road. Many of the vehicles which customers trade in are wholesaled to other used car dealers. The company’s used car business is not confined to Ford vehicles but accommodates whatever make a buyer may have to trade.

The parts sales department, always an important part of Maughan Thiem’s operations, earns in recent years approximately one half of the company’s profits. It is managed by Mr Ray Hanrahan, who is assisted by Mr Bob Carter. The company has earned a reputation for carrying stocks of parts not usually available from other dealers, in particular those for older model cars. Over the years the company has gained a large and valued country clientele which includes other Ford dealers.

The service department operates in a large drive-through workshop and a panel shop. It is managed by Mr Tony Goode, assisted by Mr George Murray in the panel shop. The company’s mechanics, who have received extensive Ford training, carry out all types of service work, from the simple lubrication and oil change to specialist repairs which may be beyond the capabilities of the small suburban garage. As a service to customers the company runs a daily courtesy car service between Cheltenham and the city.

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Above the new car showroom is located the bright modern office block which accommodates the company’s administrative functions, from the settlement of accounts and the company payroll through to meetings of the board of directors. This is under the direction of the managing director Mr Ion Ullett, the secretary and accountant Mr Murray Forbes, and the credit manager Mr Bruce Chambers. All company transactions are punched by key-punch operators through a computer terminal for transmission to the Ford Company in Melbourne, which in turn produces computerised financial reports, debtors’ statements, and other such information for the Maughan Thiem company. Other activities, such as the parts department stock control, are now also computerised.

It is a far cry from the modern operation at Cheltenham back to those early days in July 1912 when the founding partners and a staff of two first commenced in a little iron building in Flinders Street. The story of the intervening seventy years is an important chapter in the history of the motor trade in South Australia. Moreover, during those years Maughan Thiem Motor Company has established an enviable public reputation and has been adaptable and versatile in response to crisis and opportunity. The company has good reason to face the future with confidence.