"In the beginning"


The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of the blog management, (on the other hand, they are not necessarily not the views of the blog management).

No effort has been made to stay within the bounds of the truth in this blog as it has always been the view of the management that the truth should never be allowed to stand in the way of a good story.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Used Car Dealer, Motor Wrecker.

We all finally moved back to Melbourne and we’ll take up the story with Dad trying to sell the farm, he got a potential buyer interested to the degree that he drove him up to inspect it.

Dad told him to leave his car in our garage while they were away, things didn’t progress too well with the sale with the buyer finding fault with all facets of the property so they arrived back home, none too happy, late that night.

Unknown to this prospective buyer any car that came into our garage was fair game for stripping, this usually didn’t yield the stripper, yes me, much booty as most people left little of value in a car they sold.

This latest one though was a veritable gold mine of tools and other treasures which I dutifully stripped out of it.

Imagine the scene when Dad and disgruntled buyer arrived back to find everything that had been in the car neatly piled on the workbench, he was damned lucky I hadn’t dispersed it to all points of the compass.

At about this time Dad opened up one of Melbourne’s first used car yards, these rarities were a far cry from sitting home waiting for a customer to answer an advertisement for a car.

Everybody who walked or drove by, or passed on a tram, the car yard was on a tram line, was a potential customer, Dad was in seventh heaven!

He developed some new slogans to go with his new business, “Remember Holts for Best Results” and come and do a deal with “Easy Merve” were a couple I recall.

For about 6 months or so I worked with Dad at the “Yard” before deciding I wanted to be a motor mechanic, “Wow.”

Dad caught a bad cold while I was there so I was dispatched to Moran & Cato’s grocery shop for some cough mixture, this proved a hit and he was into the second bottle before discovering it was highly addictive and contained a liberal dose of opium, he never got drunk but he did get high once.

Dad specialized in cheap cars for the battler, over the years he had people who bought 6 or 8 cars from him, most of which he financed at ten shillings a week or there abouts.

He also started to wreck a few cars for spare parts about then, he eventually opened the largest motor wrecking yard in Melbourne, 5 acres jam packed with old car bodies, engines, gearboxes and the like.

Being a lover of vintage cars I could weep over the hundreds that my Dad consigned to the scrap heap back then.

When my Sister Merle married and left home Dad also packed up and left, the often stormy relationship with my Mum was over.

A couple of years down the track Dad and his new wife Ada would pack up everything and move North to Brisbane Dad credited that move North as the start of his accumulation of wealth.

Property dealing, financing.

Now was the time when Dad really honed those skills of being able to sense a good deal, what area was going to develop first and how to sniff out a bargain.

He bought an 8 acre block of land at Slacks Creek, very well named at that time, but it was on the only road to the Gold Coast, this block had a centrally located frontage of 50 meters to the highway so was perfect for sub-division.

Only a couple of years later he sold one block to a lady for twice what he had paid for the whole lot, she happened to know what he had paid and told him he was a robber, Dad told her she would be able to sell her land for 10 times what she had paid him within 5 years, she was most skeptical about this.

To her credit, she contacted him a few years later and told him he’d been right she had been offered $1 million for land she bought for $100,000

Sorry I can’t tell you what happened to the other block of land, if I ever heard I’ve forgotten!

Another block of land that he bought for peanuts at Mt Gravatt now has 2000 houses on it, when he bought it there was scrub and weeds all over it, Dad wanted to buy a small tractor for weed spraying and slashing to clean up the block.

He found a Ferguson tractor advertised locally for $1000 he went to have a look at it, one glance told him this was the unit he wanted, but being a horse trader by nature he walked around it, kicked the tyres and said, “well it’s not exactly what I’m after but I’ll give you $800” The man just shook his head and said “nope” Dad walked around and kicked the tyres again, “I’ll go to $900” he said, same shake of the head and “nope” response, a final walk around and kick of the tyres and he offered the $1000.

Much to Dads amazement the man again shook his head and said “nope” Dad spluttered “what do you mean nope you asked $1000 for the tractor and I’ll give you $1000,” The answer came straight back, “I wouldn’t sell it to you mate, it’s not exactly what you’re after.”

True to form Dad sent one of his mates to buy the tractor with strict instructions not to find fault with the tractor or haggle over the price.

To balance up on the tractor stories, Dad had a tractor for sale, just after he sold it a man turned up to have a look at it, most disappointed at missing out he asked if Dad knew off another tractor he could buy.

As luck would have it Dad had been slashing with an old Fordson a couple of years earlier and it was still in the paddock.

It was still in the paddock because no amount of trying could get it to go at the time,

Ever the optimist, Dad said that they could go and have a look at this one, under 2 years of weeds they found it, and with one of his inexhaustible supply of batteries and some fuel low and behold it started, and was duly sold.

As a carry over from his days as a car dealer Dad kept records of every deal he did and every $ he made again perhaps as a carry over from that third grade education these were kept exclusively in exercise books and on scraps of paper.

Asked for details about any of his many deals, he would quote you chapter and verse on them all.

Over many years of collecting information about property he had financed, horses bought or sold, or any other data needed for preparation of his taxation returns I can vouch for that memory.

Sure over the last few years it failed a bit but for most of his life it was phenomenal.

Dad owned several battery chargers over the years, but come tax time you could bet that every car, truck, utility, tractor or rider mower he owned would have had a new battery, there’s a battery supplier in Ipswich grieving the loss of my Dad as much as the family.

When Dad first moved out of Brisbane and into the Amberley, Rosewood area years ago he wanted to buy the property opposite his own, the owner would not sell it to him though as he was collecting royalties on coal that was being mined on it.

Finally the mine closed down and Dad was able to buy the property, a short time later another mining company approached him with a proposal to open cut mine the area which had become unprofitable to mine conventionally.

Once more Dad landed on his feet as the new miner removed 100 times more coal than the old one had, it was only a small royalty payment but over the huge bulk that was removed it mounted up.

As had been the case in his days of selling cars now that he was selling property he had buyers queuing up to buy their 2nd and 3rd property from him, instinctively people trusted my Dad.


kenju said...

Well, he was some good "horse trader" wasn't he? Sounds as if people instinctively trusted him.
Good story, Peter!

Merle said...

Keep them coming, I am really enjoying these old stories and now have them in print form also.
When I used to ring Dad in the last years of his life, he used to say "Working hard, not getting much for it". I know which side the plane landed on, and that was his response to me - so there.
But you remember things that I do not.