A snapshot of everyday Australia: Melbern Automotive 

A snapshot of everyday Australia: Melbern Automotive 

Phil Armstrong and Emma Carpenter first became business partners when they became co-owners of MotoTrans Tasmania, a motorbike transport business that delivers motorbikes around Tasmania and interstate, saving customers time and money travelling back and forth over the Bass Straight to buy and sell motorbikes. 

They took over Melbern Automotive in July 2022 together, where they continue to also run MotoTrans. 

Emma is the brains of the business whose interest is in the business management side of things. Formerly an administration and disability support worker, Emma enjoys owning her own business for the flexibility that it brings and strives to put customers first. 

Emma drives down the Bass Hwy from her home in Devonport each morning and doesn’t mind the drive either. ’A bit sick of the roadworks,’ she said ‘But I don’t mind it, especially driving home! I just put the radio on and try not to think too much about work!’ Said Emma ‘they’re a great bunch to work with here.’ Emma added. ‘It’s a good place to work.’ 

I asked Emma what sets them apart? Before she could answer a customer chimed in ‘Better service, they do what they say they’ll do, on time and charge a very reasonable price.’ 

Phil has been a mechanic for 38 years and has a particular interest in Volkswagens, which Melbern Automotive specialises in (Melbern Automotive was formerly Volks Imports). Phil’s father also worked as a Volkswagen mechanic and the whole Armstrong family has a strong love of veedubs. Some career highlights for Phil has been building his brothers Kombi T2 Ute and repowering it with a V6 Commodore engine, also working on the many ‘Herbies’ of Tasmania and currently restoring a ’72 Beetle Ute. 

Phil’s daughter Laura recalls one of his stories of when he and best mate Andrew were younger involving a Beetle and demolition derby! ‘When he was younger, when he was first a mechanic, he thought he’d enter his beat-up Beetle into a demolition derby! He thought he’d have an advantage that the motor was in the back and not the front, it did not have an advantage, it was still a Beetle!’ said Laura. 

I decided to ask the man himself ‘there was a demo derby in Latrobe and there was a thousand bucks prize money on the line, 35 years ago that was a lot of money, and we were busting to get there! All we had was the Beetle and we thought that’s alright it’s got an engine in the back that might be a good bonus for us that they might not be able to run into it, so we gave it a run! All was going well till a big Valiant clipped us on the side, tipped us over and we ended up on the roof and that was the end of it!’ 

Phil and his son, Jacob, raced at Motorkhana and various dirt track racing for a bit of fun, he no longer races but didn’t rule out a return in some capacity one day. ‘I’ve got four grandson’s now, so you never know.’ He said. 

Phil says many Volkswagen customers and enthusiasts come from the Tamar Valley region where Phil himself lives. Born and raised in Launceston, Phil moved out to the West Tamar about 30 years ago, spending 10 years at Deviot and the last 20 years or so at Legana. He would be one of a number of our readers who lives in the Tamar Valley and makes the easy commute into Launceston for work. 

Phil and Emma have assembled a tight-knit team of dedicated workers who clearly love what they do. 

Mechanic Tony Van Donselaar was personally sought out when Phil and Emma took over the business for his 44 years of experience in the trade. 

Phil has watched 17-year-old first year apprentice mechanic Jaryd Cute grow up, as his father Andrew and Phil have been best mates since childhood and were racing teammates back in the day. 

Emma and Phil are proud of the team they’ve assembled and are already well on the way towards establishing an honest and reliable business with a long-term vision at their Launceston workshop. Melbern Automotive offers automotive solutions to all makes and models and are able to service new cars without breaking warranty. 

Whether it’s a regular car service, standard mechanical repairs, advanced diagnosis, Volkswagon Parts, 4WD and Light Commercial service and repair, (including diesels) or air conditioning servicing please consider Melbern Auto in Invermay and if you are a senior or student just present your card for a 10% discount. 

There’s something awesome about seeing a workplace function like a well-oiled machine, with Emma fielding enquiries and accommodating customers in the front office, Phil and Tony passionately and diligently working on customer’s vehicles with the same care and intensity that they would apply if working on their own vehicle and young Jaryd a picture of enthusiasm going about his first year apprenticeship duties, it’s hard not to admire such a dedicated team. 

For all vehicle service and repairs enquiries, please call the friendly team at Melbern Auto on (03) 6334 3200 or just drop into 4 Montagu Street, Invermay during business hours (Monday-Friday) for an obligation free chat and quote. 

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