Vivian Lewis Motors, Franklin Street, Adelaide


In November 1926 Vivian Lewis Limited made their final move, to new premises on the south side of Franklin Street directly opposite the end of Young St.

The existing Mann's Motors building (erected c1924 and shown in photograph B 2444 in the State Library of South Australia collection)  had been newly extended by adding two matching bays to the west, increasing the street frontage from 31 to 45 yards. The photograph above shows the building as it was in June 1927: the join between the old and new buildings can be seen just to the right of the power pole. Two additional bays are cropped from the left of the photograph.

Despite the prominent signage on the top of the new part of the building, Vivian Lewis Limited were by this stage wholly owned by Mann's. The large "Motors" sign above the vehicle entrance to the left of the photograph is preceded by "Mann's" on the part of the facade not seen in the photo: Lewis were in the building, but the building was clearly Mann's Motors. Directory listings of the time have Mann's Motors Ltd listed at 71 - 83 Franklin Street, with Vivian Lewis Limited listed, numberless, beneath. In the alphabetical listings, Vivian Lewis Limited was listed as "Motor Car Importers, 81 Franklin Street", placing them within the Mann's domain. Nominally Vivian Lewis Limited held the Oldsmobile and Buick agencies but the directory listing from 1928 to 1934 described them as just "Importers, 81 Franklin Street". In the street listings, however, the Vivian Lewis Limited last appears in 1930, when the Mann's/Lewis premises changed its banner to "Southern Motors". There is no directory entry for Vivian Lewis Limited entry in 1935, the year that the company was wound up.

Surprisingly the building is little changed today, and can be found on the southern side of Franklin Street just east of the new bus depot. Many of the splendid upper storey windows are in tact, but students of building might like to examine the large crack that now exists down the 80-year-old join between the 1924 and 1926 facades. If you'd like to look at it be quick: the building is in poor condition and is currently used as a car park. Its days are clearly numbered.

247 Franklin Street, Adelaide, November 2007

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Copyright Leon Mitchell 2007-8

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