Memories of flying the flag for British motors Down Under

Rowley Motors, Sydney, in 1973 with a Mk 2 Cortina in the foreground.

Rowley Motors, Sydney, in 1973 with a Mk 2 Cortina in the foreground. - Credit: Paul Jolly

Paul Jolly, classic car specialist and valuer:

My past has finally caught up with me thanks to the power of the internet and the undisputed fact that the world has shrunk.

Many moons ago, I left the comfort of my Jaguar/Rover dealership in Surrey to take up a position doing the same thing but 12,000 miles away, ‘Down Under’ in Sydney, Australia.

A motor trade sabbatical, if you will.

Great fun it was, too, for a ‘twenty-something-year-old’.

My flat mate sold new Mercedes Benz cars and I kept the British flag flying by outselling him week on week in the same street.

My Jaguar dealership was a privately run outfit on the North Shore near Manly Beach.

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Weekends were so different to February in London, you can take it from me, but this idyll had to end and, after a year, I returned home to the three-day week, Lord Lucan, Ted Heath... and I even sold a new Rover 3.5 to Joe Gormley, the miner’s leader, who lived down the road in Hampton Court.

House purchase, mortgages, realism, et al, soon followed and I never gave Australia another thought until last week when an email pinged in asking: "Did you work for Rowley Motors in Artarmon, Sydney, in the 1970s? I bet it was you!"

Crickey Sheila, that’s a bit rich? But my first thought was who on earth could remember me and how has this come about?

The trouble was it was signed ‘Ann from the office’.

Now I was friends with a lot of people but had no recollection of an Ann from the office.

Was she a girlfriend, inquired my wife with distinct cynicism? No, I instinctively replied, rapidly trying to think back.

However, it turns out she did work in the back office, loved E Type Jaguars and has finally bought a new F Type from the current Jaguar dealership in Sydney.

The receptionist there knew she had worked for Rowley Motors and together they rattled out some names and somehow mine came up.

A Google search then revealed my website and the rest is history.  

Strewth, Bruce, that was a close call!