1958 Year In Review

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Subaru 360
The Subaru 360, or "Lady Bug", reduced the cost of motoring for the Japanese.

Austin Healey Sprite
Ugly to some, but the Sprite would find its way into over 3000 garages of Austin Healey enthusiasts.

Holden FC
The FC replaced the FE at a time when Holden sales figures had reached dizzy new heights.

Citroen DS-19
The Citroen DS-19 would be acclaimed as the "Car of the Future".

Trabant P-50 The Trabant P-50 would be released in 1958, its design selected from various ideas submitted by the AWZ factory workers.

Charles De Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle would form the Government of National Safety in 1958.

The Lady Bug

1958 was the year of the “Lady Bug” in Japan, when Fuji Jidosha (later Fuji Heavy Industries) released the Subaru 360. During the 1950’s the average cost of a new car had continued to skyrocket, and never more so than in Japan where the average cost of a car could easily outstrip the cost of a home. And so the idea of a cheap and cheerful city commuter was born, a low cost car "for the masses".

The 360 was made purposefully small to reduce manufacturing costs, however the engineers tried to ensure that any compromises made were minimised. Despite a small engine, it could hold four passengers and its power was comparable to the luxury cars of the day. Indeed the team of engineers went to extremes to reduce weight and developed a small but highly efficient suspension system. The end result was a car that weighed in at a miserly 385kg!

1958 was also the year of the "Frogeye", a rather unglamorous nick-name for Austin Healey's new sports car, the Sprite. Ugly it may have been, but over 3000 Austin Healey fans saw merit in owning one, after all there is plenty to be said for manufacturing an affordable sports car (look at the success of the Mazda MX-5). Many variations were created with differing levels of ugliness and luxury. There was also a badge-engineered MG version reviving the old Midget name which lasted until the late 1970's.

The FC Holden

The FC Holden replaced the FE Holden at a time when Holden sales figures had reached dizzy new heights. The market was booming, as was Holden's market share, which hit an incredible 50.3 per cent in 1958. The nearest competitor was being outsold two to one. Most manufacturers had established the practice of introducing a model, then following with an improved version. The FC continued this practice; The changes over the FE were not great but together made for a smoother and more refined car.

Exterior changes were made to the grille and body decorations. Beneath the skin was a redesigned interior and several mechanical improvements. The torque of the 'grey engine' was lifted with an altered camshaft and a further increased compression ratio. Minor improvements were made to the suspension, brakes, gearchange linkages and steering box.

Lang Lang

Down at Lang Lang, GM began construction of their banked circular test track, one that would become increasingly used not only in testing but in promotionaly photo shoots. In other motoring news, Leo Geoghgan would take out the Sedan and Sports Car events at the Bathurst Easter meeting in a Holden 48-215, while Holden would see its yearly sales figures top 100,000 units for the first time, with their vehicles now being exported to twenty seven countries.

1958 would see Citroen's innovative DS-19 acclaimed as "The Car of the Future", while in a backward step the Trabant P-50 would be released in East Germany. Toyota would reveal its all new 4X4, the immortal Landcruiser, at the Melbourne Motor Show. Other highlights from the Melbourne Motor Show included the Vauxhall Velox and Jaguar XK150.

In 1958 the Sputnik III satellite would be launched by Soviet Union; Charles de Gaulle would form the 'Government of National Safety' in France, while on the home front the last Australian troops would leave South Korea some five years after Panmunjom Treaty had ended the Korean war. In a sign of things to come in the next century, a proposal was mooted in Victoria to roster the use of cars due to overcrowding on roads.

Formula One Championship:

Mike Hawthorn (Britain) / Ferrari

NRL Grand Final:

VFL/AFL Grand Final:

Melbourne Cup:

Baystone (M. Schumacher)

Wimbledon Women:

Althea Gibson d. A. Mortimer (8-6 6-2)

Wimbledon Men:

Ashley Cooper d. N. Fraser (3-6 6-3 6-4 13-11)

The Movies:

  • Vertigo
  • Sayonara
  • Fantasia
  • Three Faces of Eve
  • The Ten Commandments
  • Gigi
  • And God Created Woman
  • Doctor at Large
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • The Defiant Ones

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture - Gigi
  • Best Actor - David Niven (Separate Tables)
  • Best Actress - Susan Hayward (I Want To Live!)

The Charts:

  1. Pub With No Beer - Slim Dusty
  2. Bird Dog - The Everly Brothers
  3. Young & Warm & Wonderful - Tony Bennett
  4. Catch A Falling Star - Perry Como
  5. Tom Dooley - The Kingston Trio
  6. Volare - Domenico Modugno
  7. It's All In The Game - Tommy Edwards
  8. Just Married - Marty Robbins
  9. The Twelfth Of Never - Johnny Mathis
  10. Arriverderci Roma - Vic Damone


  • Robert Donat (British actor)
  • Norman Bel Geddes (American theatrical and industrial designer)
  • Alfred Noyes (American Poet)
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