The Pioneer was developed by the Australian Horseless Carriage Syndicate, which consisted of Messrs Austin, Bartram, Copeland and Walter Ridge, it being manufactured in the Melbourne workshops of Grayson Engineering for the 1897 Cycle Exhibition being held in the Exhibition Buildings that year.
The Pioneer was to be far more than a quaint exhibit piece however, the Syndicate determined that the vehicle would go from prototype
to full scale manufacture, they realising the keen interest with which "horseless carriages" were being received overseas.
All four gentlemen showed great entrepreneurial flair, and it would seem they were adept at generating publicity for their venture too.
As their coffers ran dry, the syndicate embarked on what we would these days refer to as a media blitz.
To generate interest, the Syndicate ensured photographs and specifications of their vehicle were sent to newspapers and periodicals here in Australia, in Britain and even in the USA, in an effort to raise awareness of the vehicle and help raise the much needed additional capital to complete the venture (and keep those that had invested satisfied that things were progressing).
The Syndicate knew that, if they were to obtain Royal patronage, their chances of success would be even greater. Of course getting the Royal nod from Queen Victoria herself would be impossible, given the time restraints and tyranny of distance back in those days. And so the Syndicate instead turned their attention to her local representative here in Australia, the Governor Thomas Baron Brassey.
Given the past demeanour of incumbent Governor’s, the Syndicates task of generating interest must have been rather daunting – fortunately though Brassey was found to have a rather keen sense of curiosity. The Syndicate not only succeeded in persuading Brassey to look over their new vehicle, but to even take a ride in it.
It seemed everything was falling nicely into place for the Australian Horseless Carriage Syndicate, however creditors were becoming impatient with the time being taken in establishing the new venture, and when they called in their debts the enterprise foundered.
Had the creditors been a little more patient, and a little more far-sighted, it is very possible that Australia could have been a far greater contributor to the evolution of the modern day motor car, and enjoyed a heritage dating back to the beginnings of the automobile