Click here to return to OCC homepage


See Homepage. This page: An original photo from the mid-1950s of a classic Australian sports-car special.
Original transport photographs
Old Classic Car Image Archive index >

Tontala sports-car.

This photograph was sent over for identification a while back. Taken in Melbourne, Australia during the mid-1950s, this unusual car's identity was proving to be tricky to pin down. A mention on the forum led to information confirming that it is a Tontala, a rare fibreglass-bodied sportscar designed and built by Tony Thieler, of the Tontala Motor Company.
It isn't the best photo in the world, but as any period picture of these rare cars is hard to track down, it merited inclusion here.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
The Tontala car
The Tontala coupe was designed from the outset to use Holden running gear, uprated to ~90bhp thanks to a modified camshaft, triple SU carburettors, double valve springs and a sports ignition coil. The first complete demonstration car was completed in October of 1954, after which it underwent road trials and various modifications, before it made an appearance at the 1955 Motor Show in Melbourne (and later at a show in Sydney). Perhaps it was the actual car shown above? The '55 show car was finished in a light colour, and had an egg-crate grille, different to that fitted to the car here.
There was sufficient interest in the Tontala to make low-volume production a reality, but due to issues surrounding finance, production of completed cars never actually occurred. Instead, the car was offered in kit form, perfect for anyone who saw themselves as a kit car builder, or - as they tended to be known in the UK at least - as a special builder. At the time, import duties on sportscars assembled overseas were so high that interest in home-grown sporting-cars could well have seen the Tontala become a sales success, if sufficient funding and ongoing development had been achieved. The price of a finished kit would be in the region of $1400, at a time when a Triumph TR3 for example would have cost $1750 to an Australian buyer.
Were many of these cars built, and do any Tontalas survive? Other similar component cars also under development at that time in Australia included the Buchanan, and the Buckle, both visually very similar to the hordes of Ford sidevalve-based specials offered in Britain at that time.
Return to Page 13 in the classic & vintage car photo gallery.

Custom Search
Old Classic Car (C) R. Jones 2020. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.
Website by ableweb.
Privacy Policy, Cookies & Disclaimers