1953 Year In Review

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Sunbeam Alpine 1955
The first Alpine would be released in 1953, based on the chassis and running gear of the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 saloon.

AC Ace
The AC Ace was clearly styled from the Ferrari Barchetta, and for the day offered remarkable performance for a 2 litre.

Holden FJ
The FJ would be released in 1953, along with British nuculear weapons at Woomera. Only one is remembered fondly today.

Aston Martin DB2-4 Saloon
The Aston Martin DB2-4 Saloon would mark the high point of the 1953 London Motor Show, while the new "plastic" Singer 1.5 litre would mark the low point.

The Rootes Sunbeam Alpine

Although Sunbeam would be taken over by the Rootes group prior to the second world war, the marque would not be resurrected in a sports car sense until 1953 when the wonderful new two-seater “Sunbeam Alpine” was announced. The Alpine was based on the chassis and running gear of the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 saloon, and as such was in reality an entirely Rootes affair. To address scuttle-shake the frame was stiffened up with extra side plates, and the nose of the car was exactly like that of the saloon. The Alpine featured independent front suspension by coil springs and wishbones; at the rear a rigid axle was located by half-elliptic leaf springs.

The AC Ace

AC Cars may have entered the market in 1947 with a range of two litre cars, but it wasn't until 1953 that they came to prominence with the release of the brilliant AC Ace. Inspired by the equally brilliant Ferrari Barchetta, the Ace was a handsome 2 seater open sportscar built with an alloy body, slung on fully independent transverse leaf spring suspension. The earliest versions were capable of a top speed of 164 km/h (102 mph), by the standards of the day quite a remarkable performance.

45 RPM

The times were rapidly changing, 45 RPM discs going to market for the first time (the very first for Australia being "The Desert Song"), Sir Winston Churchill would be awarded the Noble Prize for literature and Britain would explode nuclear weapons at Woomera, South Australia. Lieutenant-Commander James Verdin of the US Navy would enter the record books when he set a new "World Speed Air Record" reaching a, for the time, remarkable 1212.98 kmh.

The FJ

But arguably the biggest news that year, for Holden fans anyway, was the release of the first Holden update, the immortal "FJ Holden". This new model Holden featured a far more elegant grille treatment, replacing the rather austere appearance of the vertical set-up on the 48/215.

Obviously only a facelift from the previous version, GMH did expand the accessories list, and late in the year the Panel Van was available, although it was at this point in time only attractive to the tradesman. The "FJ" was the car that cemented Holden's position as the country's most popular car. Today it is a celebrated piece of 'Australiana' and has been the subject of songs and even a full-length feature film. The FJ used the same powertrain as the 48-215 with some mechanical refinements.

The features which had made the 48-215 so successful remained the major selling points: Excellent ground clearance, good ride, rugged drivetrain, energetic performance, comfortable seating for six, low maintenance, good fuel economy and unbeatable value for money. Now available in 12 different colours, the new "Special" model which featured armrests and a cigarette lighter, but most importantly was the two-tone finish. Before 1953 was out, GMH had released a new variant: the panel van, and by years end they were exporting the FJ to New Zealand, in turn being forced to lift production to 200 per day!

In other motoring news, Ken Tubman and John Marshall took out the 1953 REDeX Trial in a Peugeot 203; Austin released the A30 in Great Britain; the London Motor Show featured Britain's first plastic car, a 1.5 litre Singer. Also shown at the London show were the new Volkswagen 'Beetle 1100' and Aston Martin DB2-4 saloon.

Formula One Championship:

Alberto Ascari (Italy) / Ferrari

NRL Grand Final:

VFL/AFL Grand Final:

Melbourne Cup:

Wodalla (J. Purtell)

Wimbledon Women:

Maureen Connolly d. D. Hart (8-6 7-5)

Wimbledon Men:

Vic Seixas d. K. Nielsen (9-7 6-3 6-4)

The Movies:

  • The Robe
  • From Here to Eternity
  • Shane
  • Roman Holiday
  • Quo Vadis
  • The Desert Rats
  • Stalag 17
  • Hans Christian Andersen

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture - From Here to Eternity
  • Best Actor - William Holden (Stalag 17)
  • Best Actress - Audrey Hepburn (Roman Holiday)


  • Queen Mary
  • Eugene O'Neill (Playwright)
  • Hank Williams (Legendary Country Singer)
  • Jacques Thibaud (French violinist)
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