The official home of the famous Australia Microcar - The Lightburn Zeta

Lightburn Zeta

Australia’s Own Microcar


My uncle, Arthur Watson, was the Project Engineer for the Lightburn Zeta. An amazing man with an amazing story, he has given me many documents, memos, brochures, press releases and even a rare book he wrote about Australia’s famous Lightburn Zeta. This site is dedicated to him and the famous (infamous) car he helped build.

The site will be “a work in progress” as I have so much information to share, so please bear with me! One other good reason to “stay tuned” is I will post a transcript of one of the very last ever interviews with Harold Lightburn that will reveal a very surprising reason for the whole Zeta Project.

                                                        - Brett Watson


This Zeta demonstration car was sent to Wellington to representatives of the Government in a hope to market the cars in New Zealand. Arthur Watson pictured on the right.

Breshi © 2012

A Zeta marketing meeting chaired by Harold Lightburn (standing up). The sign on the black board says “Up & Away”. Arthur Watson is seated on the far right.



This is a story told by Arthur Watson, which was for him, participation in a major way in a big project. A difficult job, accepted by him as a task and a challenge to suit and engage his talents.

In writing this, the author has drawn upon his training, over many years and his direct personal involvement with the Zeta over a long period. His memory of happenings a long time ago and in so much detail do him credit.

This is a valuable work, being an analysis and portrayal of one aspect of the manufacturing industry in Australia and in South Australia in particular.

He had a further good reason, for there is really little known about the Zeta project, however he was determined to act when he became aware of the imminent demise of records and data about the Zeta.

Talk to Arthur and he grips you with his intensity of purpose, as he did with Zeta, he lives his work and project.

The author has painstakingly gathered together data of many types, photographs, brochures, reports of progress in design and production, details of the Ampol trial, with it’s organising and successful completion and award.

When one reads the extensive variety of reports and the amount of detail, testing, checking, reviewing, undertaken to achieve satisfactory design and production model, one gains some idea of the work and effort applied.

Arthur has mentioned some names of people involved in the Zeta project. I would like to have seen them all mentioned, which of course is not practical here. However Company Directors, Harold Hallett and Frank Leahey, highly qualified engineers, with vast experience were the Companies overall Design and Engineering leaders backed by a dedicated team.

The project was intended to make a range of vehicles. To sell the Zeta in Australia as a second car. When fully established to set up factories in overseas countries, on a turnkey basis, everything set up and going.

Concept, sample and production models using larger engines, were as follows, Sports car, van, utility, electric sedan, four wheel drive off road, and a four wheel steering sedan.

This author, no doubt had some valuable help in producing this book, however this is basically his work, and carried out whilst not enjoying good health, and with all too little access to office and or other facilities of an organisation.

Further this has been done approximately, thirty years after the production of the Zeta.

A credit to Arthur, it could be interesting and valuable to many others, not least, those who were involved and contributed a great deal to Zeta.

This book gives an interesting insight to a pioneering project, which, with a little help, instead of so much opposition, could have enjoyed an on going success story.

Maybe Zeta was just too soon.

                                                                                                             HAROLD LIGHTBURN


                                                                                                      21 - 9 - 1994

** This is from the book Arthur Watson wrote, which was never published. I am going to try and reproduce some of the book on this site.