TJ Richards Body Builders – Chrysler Australia

Tobias John Martin Richards was a coach and wagon builder in South Australia, first learning the craft from Mr L Maraum of Hindmarsh Square. In 1885 T J Richards opened a small coachbuilding shop in Pulteney Street, Adelaide. He quickly began exhibiting his designs at various country shows and by 1900 he had additional premises on Hindmarsh Square. He retired from the business in 1911 and the firm became T.J. Richards & Sons Ltd., soon adding motor body building to the enterprise.

As the motor vehicle became a viable form of transport in Australia the company moved more into acting as agents for various car marques such as Dixi and Studebaker. In 1917 the company acquired a 14 acre site on Leader Street, Keswick (now the site of Le Cornu’s furniture warehouse) manufacturing motor bodies. A second 11 acre site was opened at Mile End. In 1947 the American company Chrysler purchased a controlling interest and around the same time the company was renamed Chrysler (Australia) Limited. A truck factory was opened at Finsbury, South Australia, the vehicle plant was relocated to Tonsley Park, and an engine plant was built at Lonsdale. In 1980 Mitsubishi took over the company and its many sites. The history of T.J. Richards, Chrysler and Mitsubishi represents an important aspect of Australian vehicle manufacturing history.

The National Motor Museum is seeking any information, photographs, documents or brochures relating to T.J. Richards, T.J Richards & Sons, Chrysler (Australia), Mitsubishi Australia and any of the assembly and workshop sites. If you are able to help and are willing to donate any material, or loan for the purposes of digitisation, we would be keen to hear from you. Please email the Museum at motor@history.sa.gov.au or by phone on 08 8568 4000.

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