When young Perth panel beater Allan Schonhut went out on his own to open his first panel shop in the emerging Osborne Park light industrial area back in 1957, the first Holden was not quite 10 years old. There was plenty of work keeping the older FX’s and FJ’s roadworthy at the same time as the new FE’s and FC’s began rolling off the assembly line, including the first all-Aussie station sedan. It was also a time when cars like the Hillman Minx and Austin A30 were being assembled to take advantage of the post-war car sales boom, and manufacturers like Volkswagen were setting up shop Down Under. And on it went with the rise in popularity of the big three ‘sixes’ in the family car market, Ford, Chrysler and countless more Holden varieties dominating the 1960’s and 70’s along with a plethora of smaller imported cars to suit the growing European migrant population.
While so many cars of all shapes and sizes have come and gone over the years, Schonhut Panel & Paint remains a constant, still in Osborne Park, still sharing the benefit of its founder’s unrivalled experience at the coal face of a trade in which today’s technology owes its evolution to such master-crafted roots.
Today, Schonhut Panel & Paint is a division of Newlans Coachbuilders, resulting from a marriage of convenience between two like-minded industries ideally situated to take advantage of each other’s expertise and resources while retaining their own niche markets as neighbouring enterprises at 47 and 48 Gordon Road East in the now thriving Osborne Park light industrial precinct.
Managing director Stephen Newlan, who established Newlans Coachbuilders opposite Schonhut Panel & Paint in 1988, trained with Rolls Royce in England before recognising unique opportunities for the application of his skills for truck coach panel fabrication and classic car building and restoration in Perth. Schonhut manager Clayton Smith, who has been with the business since 1991, is hands-on across the road ensuring that both businesses operate in tandem in the pursuit of service and production excellence.