scenes from the graveyard of modernity

Harold Lightburn was an visionary who got his timing wrong. In the sixties his plastic runabout with its tiny two-stroke motor was an idea ahead of its time. Or behind its time, if indeed it was inspired by one of those weird post-war British austerity vehicles with a motorbike engine (the Anzani Astra) that went broke in the fifties. When he decided to launch himself into manufacturing automobiles, Lightburn was already successfully making washing machines, cement mixers and fiberglass boats in his factory in Adelaide.

Your exmodernist discovered these two 1963 Zetas in a hayshed near Wedderburn in central Victoria. Modernity, you ask? Well they do have vestigial fins, along the top edge… And, being true to modernity, they had no reverse gear! You had to switch off, and restart the engine going the other way, in order to access the (four) reverse gears! Theoretically, it was as fast (60mph) in reverse as going foward! Read the links to discover some of their other (hilarious and death-defying) “features“.

The 1963 Lightburn Zeta was launched in the same year as the Morris Mini, but was only 80 pounds cheaper… So which would you prefer? You could race the Mini! Remarkably, the Zeta got an award for just finishing the Ampol rally… Approximately 400 were produced in two models. The mechanically unrelated Zeta “Sport” was even cuter than the Goggomobile Dart, but only sold 28 units…


#1 admin on 04.30.10 at 10:12 am

Rat Rod! Make a Rat Rod!

#2 Eventus Bonus on 05.03.10 at 10:39 am

Neat little car, now I see the attraction. Can’t wait to see one scooting down Nthbourne.

#3 Robin Heath on 05.09.11 at 8:06 am

I own one of these Zeta cars and you can find pictures and videos on my youtube channel robinheath1
Have a nice day

#4 Nigel on 05.09.11 at 10:24 am

Lucky you! If I had a shed I’d be with you! Here’s Robin’s link

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