Our History

“Head out to Hurstville to Dominelli Ford, buy a Ford from Ferdie get a Ford you can afford. Get a Ford at Dominelli Ford and you got Ferdie’s word, that it’s been double checked by the Fussy Ferdie Bird”.

If you grew up in Sydney, chances are you still remember the lyrics from Dominelli Ford’s famous commercials during the 60s, 70’s and 80s staring Ferdie Dominelli, the iconic Fussy Ferdie Bird and Adam Dominelli from the age of 6.

The Beginning

Dominelli Ford Hurstville opened on the 1 September 1969, after acquiring the existing Ford Dealership, Hunt Brothers, located on the corner of Cross Street and Cross Avenue, Hurstville. After 18 months leasing the Hunt site in Hurstville, Ferdie moved his business to his own state-of-the art dealership on the corner of Forest Road and Pearl Street Hurstville. The new Dominelli Ford complex was an imposing sight on the skyline and officially opened on 5 April 1971. It included a purpose-designed, all-inclusive vehicle service from selling cars to a Golden Fleece service station for customers. Each of the four departments – administration, showroom, spare parts, and service was under one roof. His team of 115 employees worked in plush surroundings with black bean wood panelling, black bean office furniture, several hundred feet of glass and luxury royal blue carpet. His approach was to offer the most competitive prices, highest quality vehicles and best customer buying experience throughout Sydney.

In 1990, the Dominelli Group expanded, the first being a Volvo franchise in Kirrawee, a suburb in the Sutherland Shire. The Volvo dealership was a newly built award-winning showroom on our previous Adams Viscount Caravan yard on the corner of Oak Road and Princes Highway Kirrawee. Two years later, we purchased the Neville Ford Dealership in Kirrawee which we renamed, Southside Ford. On 1 January 1991 Southside Ford was relocated to the ex-Volvo dealership during which we later renamed, Dominelli Ford Sutherland. Dominelli Fords service and parts operation shifted to newly built premises at 53 Waratah Street, Kirrawee, which is now used for all new car preparation and vehicle storage. The Volvo franchise was relocated from Kirrawee to operate alongside Dominelli Ford at Hurstville. In 1993 we acquired a Renault franchise which we ran from the same location on the corner of Pearl Street and Forest Road, Hurstville. In 1994, Dominelli Ford celebrated its 25th anniversary and several individuals and organisations recognised Ferdie as a leader in the Australian retail car industry. On 1 March 1999 we purchased McLeod Ford located on the Princes Highway, Rockdale. This was the final piece in the puzzle for now we had a total of three Ford Dealerships spanning the entire St George and Sutherland Shire. Between 2004 to 2019 we owned and operated additional franchises such as Peugeot, Suzuki and Mazda located on the Princes Highway Arncliffe and Banksia.

The Ferdie Bird

As well as being a great entertainer, Ferdie was a highly skilled marketer. He was a natural and had an intuitive understanding of what would appeal to consumers. Soon after launching Dominelli Ford, Ferdie realised that a radio jingle would make his business memorable. Car dealers were not using jingles, so he had a hunch that it would set him apart from his competitors. Ferdie met with Henry Café who was highly creative at writing scripts for commercials and Alan Dean, the owner of Dean Note Productions who composed tunes for advertisements.

Following their first meeting with Ferdie, Alan and Henry were brainstorming ideas for the first Dominelli Ford song which they wrote at a cost of $1,200, representing an entire month’s budget. 

After a while, Alan and Henry realised it was time to come up with something fresh. Ferdie told them he wanted an animated character like Humphrey B Bear to promote the business. Alan and Henry were tossing around ideas when Alan said, ‘What word goes with Ferdie?’ 

Ferdie Birdie, Henry suggested.

Alan jumped in the air. ‘Yes, that’s it. Ferdie Bird!’

Alan wrote a Ferdie Bird jingle based on Ferdie’s reputation for being fussy. They nailed it however they needed an animated character. Ferdie asked several cartoonists to come up with designs, working through 200 illustrations, but none of them hit the mark. Then he heard that the cartoon production Hanna-Barbera, had an office in Sydney, so he took a tape of the jingle to Hanna- Barbera and the animator listened to it. The cartoonist created a Ferdie Bird character that Ferdie instantly loved. Fussy Ferdie Bird. The red, white, and blue life-size fibreglass caricature with a yellow beak, represented Ferdie’s rigid standard of perfection.

Henry and Alan met with Ferdie every week, discussing the promotional strategy. Ferdie was keen to advertise on television, so Henry created a script and Alan composed a jingle. Henry and Alan continued to manage Dominelli Ford advertising for several decades.

Ferdie Bird catapulted Dominelli Ford into the limelight and peoples lounge rooms, and the character set Dominelli Ford apart from its competitors. Everybody knew Ferdie Bird. Ferdie Bird proved to be an advertising coup, giving Dominelli Ford, instant recognition in Sydney, and advertising acclaim throughout Australia.

The Present

Half a century later we still stand and survive by the values established by Ferdie when he opened his first dealership in Hurstville.

Our brand new architecturally designed Dealership spans 8,000 square metres, over three levels. The purpose-built showroom provides Sydney’s best selection of new Ford cars, SUVs, light trucks, and pre-owned vehicles in complete comfort.

Located under the same roof is our state-of-the-art Ford Service and Parts Centre, the newest and best- equipped service workshop in Sydney. An ultra-modern service workshop including thirteen service bays a tyre fitting and wheel alignment bay, backed by a team of highly trained Ford certified master technicians and certified service advisors. Our undercover concierge drive-way service provides a welcoming experience every time you have your vehicle serviced, even during inclement weather.

Word of mouth can make or break your business and I think you will find it has made ours. We pride ourselves on integrity and honesty. We offer competitive prices on all new, demonstrator & used vehicles which extend to our service and spare parts departments too. Our success and longevity are a testament to our promise.

We are an ethical and genuine family company and anyone that has worked or done business with the Dominelli Group will vouch for that. Ask around.

Adam Dominelli

Managing Director