Performance prop from Sydney Olympics closing ceremony

Made in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2000.

This quad cycle has significance in material culture due to its role in the closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games, an important event in the recent history of Sydney and NSW. It has the potential to communicate in exhibitions and publications about the Sydney Olympic Games and has significance in its design, making, use and the cultural meanings ascribed to it.

The closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games took place on Sunday 1 October at Stadium Australia, Homebush Bay. It includ...


Vehicle, quad cycle, metal/plastic/rubber, designed by Neill Gladwin, made by Ua3 David Trethewey, used in the Lawnmower Man segment of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games closing ceremony, Sydney 2000

Honda ATV, breakaway simulated quad bike with a detachable orange flashing light on a metal pole. The body of the vehicle is made from red plastic. The bike has four black rubber wheels. The various components of the bike are joined together by black nylon cords and black plastic straps that can be released to allowed the vehicle to be dismantled quickly.


2360 mm


Neill Gladwin, Sydney NSW, 1999-2000 The original storyboard called for a breakaway ride-on lawnmower that could be dismantled by a crowd into pieces small enough to be carried away, each person carrying one piece. Designing it was a major challenge to the highly skilled special effects team. The mower chosen was an industrial greenkeeper's model. The manufacturer of Toro lawnmowers agreed to donate five of these machines for the segment. A company called Ua3 was contracted to modify one lawnmower to come apart as a special effect. Initial field trials of the machine were encouraging, with the only drawback being a top speed that was slightly slower than desired. During the SOCOG procurement and three weeks of work on the prototype, the sponsor withdrew the offer to donate the mowers.

The next machine tested was an Arcticat All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), Arcticat being the supplier to SOCOG. Again, negotiations became fruitless, resulting in another two weeks setback.

The third machine was a Honda ATV, a machine similar in many respects to the Arcticat. Negotiations settled quickly and delivery of the machine was taken with only four weeks remaining of the original production schedule. The script called for the vehicle to chase around the stadium, creating havoc and finally ending up on the field, swarmed upon by a crowd that appeared to tear it apart, bare-handed. Multiples of the vehicles were used by three separate but identical riders to appear in several places very quickly, adding to the slapstick, fast-motion, silent movie effect. The multiples were not modified for dismantling - they were regular Honda ATVs. The machine to be dismantled was made to resemble these.

Attaching the ATV's four wheels was a particularly tricky problem to solve. They needed to be fully functional, yet removable in seconds. Various approaches were tried before a solution was found with the use of camlock coupling fittings. These are used in industry as fast, leakproof connections for hoses and pipes handling petroleum, chemicals and other liquids and dry products. They are designed to connect and disconnect in seconds with no threading, twisting or tools required.

The vehicle needed to dismantled within 30 seconds with bare hands. The first attempt took 33 seconds to dismantle completely. After an hour of rehearsals, the team achieved a time of 7.6 seconds, a tribute to their fine team work. The ATV became known to the team as the simulated quadbike or quad cycle.

Ua3 (David Trethewey), Pyrmont, Sydney, 2000 Components of an electric golf cart were used with special frame components fabricated to simulate the regular Honda ATV quadbikes used in the segment. Special parts were made to facilitate quick dismantling, adjusted to standard body panels.


Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001
5 October, 2001

Cite this Object

Performance prop from Sydney Olympics closing ceremony 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 20 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Performance prop from Sydney Olympics closing ceremony |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=20 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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