Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 8th 2013 Contents B2
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt September 8, 2013
The first automobile in T&T rolled ashore
in 1900---a Locomobile Runabout, which was
basically a two-seat horseless carriage pow-
ered by a small steam engine.
Following closely on the exciting new tech-
nology trends of the time, there were soon
many other cars on the streets when these
were still toys of the wealthy, being both expen-
sive to acquire and complex to maintain.
In 1908 Henry Ford introduced his immortal
Tin Lizzie, the Model T. Cheap thanks to inno-
vative design and economised production lines,
the first of these cars hit Trinidad in 1912,
when a fleet was imported, by Yldefonso De
Lima of jewelry-store fame, to operate as taxis.
The fare from Port-of-Spain to Mt St Benedict,
for instance, was $8, a substantial sum equal
to the monthly wage of a labourer.
J N Harriman and Co, one of the oldest
emporiums in the land and owned by the Boos
family, sold Model Ts for a while, but in March
1919 a young Englishman named Charles McE-
nearney stepped into the picture and acquired
the sole dealership for the Ford brand in
Originally a purchasing agent sourcing
coconuts for the Schweppes beverage company,
Charles saw the rapid industrialisation of the
island with its oil economy as an opportunity
and began sales on Richmond Street in Port-
of-Spain in a small way. San Fernando was
the next frontier, in 1922, with a single-car
showroom on Mucurapo Street in 1922; and
the cocoa boomtown of Sangre Grande a year
later in partnership with George De Nobriga.
The Model T, in Trinidad as in the rest of
the world, dominated the roads. Aside from
its rugged simplicity, it was offered in numerous
body-styles including pickup truck, delivery
van and sporty roadster right up to the end
of production in 1927, when over 15 million
had been sold.
In 1931 the Richmond Street headquarters
was expanded but the piece de resistance came
in 1936, when a grand art-deco showroom
was opened on Royal Road in San Fernando.
Designed by John Guppy, the impressive façade
incorporated a V8 logo which alternatively
represented a tribute to King Edward VIII or
else the mighty flathead V8 engine which
made Ford a performance legend.
The years of World War II from 1939-45
were a challenge, since the Ford factories had
stopped assembling cars and had turned to
making war vehicles and implements. More-
over, spare parts and car tyres were restricted
as imports. After the war ended, sales resumed
and thrived, a new branch being opened in
Scarborough, Tobago in 1950 with smaller
English Fords such as the Prefect gradually
replacing the American models which had
hitherto been the mainstay.
After Independence in 1962 a new govern-
ment regimen was implemented to assemble
cars locally. Charles McEnearney and Co rose
to the challenge and partnered with H E Robin-
son and Co, (importer for Rootes and BMC
cars) to establish an assembly plant in
Charles McEnearney and Co became part
of the Alstons Group in 1968. Before its closure
in the 1990s, more than 100,000 vehicles
were assembled at this plant. In 1975 Conrad
O Brien was appointed managing director,
having begun his career at the firm in 1948
as a salesman.
A new horizon rose with the assembly of
the Japanese-sourced Ford Laser, which was
destined to become a successful rival to the
now dominant Japanese brands in the market.
A further foray into Japanese cars came with
the addition of the Daihatsu marque in the
The year 1989 saw the merger of McEnear-
ney and H E Robinson, which brought the
Honda, Mitsubishi and Land Rover brands
into the fold. Faltering vehicle sales in the
recession of the decade saw Conrad O Brien
negotiating with Anthony N Sabga, and McE-
nearney-Alstons became part of the ANSA
Logistic difficulties in the 1980s saw the
Ford name vanish from the market only to
make a grand resurgence in 1996 with a revi-
talisation of the brand that paired dynamic
new cars with an aggressive marketing cam-
paign, thus firmly re-establishing the footing
of one of the oldest existing automotive icons
in Trinidad, still under the aegis of the com-
pany that was one of its earliest representatives.
Charles McEnearney and Co still exists as
part of the ANSA Automotive Group and has
extended its reach into Barbados and the East-
ern Caribbean, as well as being noted as the
dealer for many prestigious brands of vehicles,
including BMW (Oxford Motors), Land Rover
Charles McEnearney and Ford...
A 94-year partnership
Local ford advert 1922
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