The announcement of World War II led to panic amongst motorists worried about the Introduction of petrel rationing. By September 1939, many car owners were stockpiling fuel – one such person reportedly stored 8,800 gallons (3331 litres) in 44.gallon drums!

By October 1940 the government issued strict fuel rationing to conserve it for Defence purposes. The NRMA became a distributor of petrol ration vouchers, handing them to motorists through its Touring Department, which was kept busy issuing an average of 458 applications a week.  Many vehicle owners put their cars on blocks to see out the war, and new car registrations dropped by 50 per cent. Some businesses even returned to the horse and cart.

To keep cars on the road,the government and the NRMA looked into alternative fuels. The most viable was charcoal producer gas, in which charcoal was burned in a unit attached to the back of the vehicle. The NRMA equipped Its country Inspector with a Charcoal gas unit. so he could travel country roads on a minimum of petrol to service members’ needs.

Open Road, September 2019


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