Thomas William (Bill) Conoulty
Shown in his Australian bodied Austin Seven Comet - 1934
Photo supplied by Bill Conoulty Junior
Thomas William (Bill) Conoulty Senior was born in Sydney, NSW, Australia in 1901 and attended Ultimo Technical College. He married and had three children. One son William (Bill) Conoulty Junior followed in his fathers footsteps choosing engineering as his profession. Bill Conoulty passed away in 1961. Thanks to Bill Conoulty Junior, much of his fathers early motoring history has been preserved.
William Conoulty Senior is best known for his involvement with building and racing Austin Sevens, motorcycle racing (Douglas Isle of Man) and NSW motor sport from the late 1920 to the late 1940s. He was the first man in NSW to achieve 100 mph on a motorcycle. He was an avid supporter of the controversial Maroubra speedway in the 1920 and early 1930s. Bill Conoulty is also known for his design of the Musso (also referred to as the 'Conoulty Special Austin Comet'), the Cushioned Power Austin Seven head, an overhead valve conversion and an overhead cam conversion for the Austin Seven. He also designed small Austin Seven power "tractors" for indoor use featuring enclosed exhaust gas collection. The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney commissioned one of these in 1937 to pull linen trolleys around the wards. One of his more interesting projects was the Sydney version of the Globe of Death, which in its original form, featured a modified Austin Seven and a Douglas motorcycle travelling in opposite directions!
His business activities were conducted from three locations in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. These were 25B Barcom Avenue, Darlinghurst, Mc Lachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay and 180 Oxford St, Paddington. The family lived above the premises in Oxford Street for a number of years. At one stage, Bill Conoulty Senior employed approximately 40 people.
In 1934, Bill Conoulty Senior met Murray Jamieson. Murray was in Australia visiting Larke Hoskin Pty Ltd, the main Austin Seven importer in NSW. During this period Murray was interested in the prototype overhead cam conversion that Bill Conoulty had developed and was running in his Australian bodied Comet Special. This car succeeded in winning many NSW Light Car Club events, one of which was the Fastest Time in the Mountain Trails Class A on the 17th of November 1934. As history tells us, Murray Jamieson secured funding from Lord Austin in late 1934 to develop an overhead valve engine.
The Australian Wheels magazine wrote an article in 1955 titled "Conoulty - From Trials to Dirt Tracks" that covered much of Bill's motoring history.
The Austin Seven Motoring Pages