1988 Year In Review

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Shearer Steam Carriage
The Shearer Steam Carriage.

Bugatti EB110

Bugatti in name only, the EB110 had much more in common with the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini.

GM Sunraycer
John Harvey as lead driver would take the GM Sunraycer to victory in the worlds first cross-continental solar power race, from Darwin to Adelaide.

Australia’s Oldest Car in London to Brighton

The 1899 Shearer Steam Carriage normally housed in the National Motor Museum in Birdwood, South Australia left for the U.K. in 1988 to participate in the London to Brighton Rally held on Sunday November 6. Announcing the Shearer's entry in the World's most famous Veteran Car event project organiser and Radio 2CH motoring man David Berthon said "it was fitting Australia's oldest car should participate internationally in our Bicentennial Year".

Sponsored by G.I.O. Motor Vehicle Insurance and supported by Easy Hits Radio 2CH the Shearers 92 kilometre journey to Brighton was the vehicles longest continuous run. The previous best was David Shearer's drive from Mannum to Adelaide in 1980 for exhibition and demonstration at the Chamber of Manufacturers Exhibition of that year - a distance of 75 kilometres. The Shearer left Australia by modern P & O container vessel in early September 1980 and was prepared in the workshops of Britain's National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, Hampshire prior to the Rally start in Hyde Park, London.

Prior to the Shearers departure, the car went on display (until August 30, 1988) at Sydney's Historic Queen Victoria Building, built during the same period as the Shearer and opened to the public on the 21st July, 1898. A crew of four joined the Shearer in the U.K. in late October courtesy of Cathay Pacific Airways, the team including John Chittleborough and Colin Newton, then Curator and Coachbuilder respectively at the Birdwood Museum.

At the time David Berthon said "negotiations with the National Motor Museum and its administrator, the South Australian History Trust, began last year and were met with enthusiasm at all levels. While a number of Australian entered vehicles have participated in the Brighton Run in the past, a record 9 in fact in 1986, this is the first occasion an Australian made car has taken part".

Mazda Back In The Black

In 1988 with the launch of the 626 Wagon, Mazda was finally able to announce its first profitable trading month for over two years. The $1 million Mazda quoted as it's 1987/1988 profit might have seemed a little small in the context of other importers and local makers, but this figure came on the heels of a $1 million net loss in 1986/1987 and a staggering $19 million crash in 1985/1986. The resurgence, according to Mazda Australia's general manager at the time, Malcolm Gough, was largely due to impressive sales performances by the entire Australian Mazda range.

For 1988, sales of 323 variants rose by 1.3 per cent to 2509, while 626/MX6 surprised many with a 17 per cent leap in market sector share. The V6 929 was the biggest mover with a segment share of 14.7 per cent, taking total sales to 2285. This was tempered by disappointing sales of the RX-7, admittedly in a depressed segment, and that car dropped more than 27 per cent for 274 annual sales. That bought Mazda's sales total for the financial year to 15,280 (up 10.4 per cent) retaining its position as Australia's largest importer.

Next on the list was Honda with around 13,000 cars, although Honda did not have a commercial vehicle division to supplement the figures. Gough announced a projected profit for Mazda in the 1988/1989 financial year of $12 million. That profit margin, he said, would be the result of a turnover figure of $450 million. Such a positive future, said Gough, was the result of Mazda's improved product line for this and subsequent years, the reduction of tariffs and the rather more attractive - from an Australian importer's point of view - yen/dollar relationship. As far as reducing prices in the face of such a turnaround, Gough said that would not happen until Mazda recouped some of its losses

GM Climbs Back To Pole Position

1988 would see GM begin it’s climb back to pole position in the Australian passenger car market. The all new VN Commodore was described by the PR guys as “designed to achieve the dramatic market impact reserved only for the most historic and significant Holden models”.

And so it proved. A major generational change, the 'aero styled' VN returned Holden to the full-sized family car fold. It won all three motor magazine 1988 Car of the Year awards and was also a sales winner right from the start (the Executive model confidently targeted at fleet buyers), taking Holden back to its accustomed position on top of the Australian passenger car market the following year.

1988 saw Lindy Chamberlain's sentence finally squashed after years of legal debate - primarily due to the weakness and unreliability of the forensic evidence given at her trial. Most Australian's had become tired of the story - one that had dominated the news headlines for nearly 8 years. It would take until 1992 however for Lindy (and now ex-husband Michael) to finally receive compensation from the Northern Territory Government.

Formula One Championship:

Ayrton Senna (Brazil) / McLaren-Honda

1988 Bathurst Winner:

Tony Longhurst & Tomas Mezera / Sierra RS500

NRL Grand Final:

Cantebury (24) def. Balmain (12)

VFL/AFL Grand Final:

Hawthorn (22.20.152) def. Melbourne (6.20.56)

Melbourne Cup:

Empire Rose (T. A. Allan)

Wimbledon Women:

Steffi Graf d. M. Navratilova (5-7 6-2 6-1)

Wimbledon Men:

Stefan Edberg d. B. Becker (4-6 7-6 6-4 6-2)

The Movies:

  • Rain Man
  • Mississippi Burning
  • A Fish Called Wanda
  • Bull Durham

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture - Rain Man
  • Best Actor - Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man)
  • Best Actress - Jodie Foster (The Accused)

Gold Logie:

Kylie Minogue (Neighbours, Ten)

The Charts:

  1. Gloria - Laura Branigan
  2. Eye Of The Tiger - Survivor
  3. Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners
  4. Believe It Or Not - Joey Scarbury
  5. Pass The Dutchie - Musical Youth
  6. Centerfold - J. Geils Band
  7. Hard To Say I'm Sorry - Chicago
  8. Key Largo - Bertie Higgins
  9. What About Me - Moving Pictures
  10. Rock The Casbah - The Clash


  • Roy Orbison (Musician)
  • Chet Baker (fabulous Jazz musician, accomplished singer and trumpeter)
  • Luis Alvarez (Physicist)
  • Edgar Jean Faure (French lawyer and politician)
  • Nora Astorga (Nicaraguan lawyer and UN deligate)
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