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Cars in the Collection

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The Museum has a small, eclectic and historically very interesting collection of cars acquired over many decades. Some are in very original condition while others have been fully restored. Most are powered by internal combustion engines but four are electric. There is also a steam powered 1921 Stanley Steamer and a 1987 solar assisted car.

The oldest car is a 1905 Model F Cadillac which was owned by Sir Robert Lucas-Tooth, of the famous Sydney brewing family, and used on his country property near Bega, New South Wales. The car that is in most original condition is a 1912 Rover touring car built in Coventry, England, while the rarest is a luxury 1913 Sheffield Simplex touring car. It is one of only three extant made in England by the Sheffield Simplex Motor Works Ltd of Tinsley, near Sheffield.

The earliest years of motoring are represented by two auto buggies, so called because they resembled horse-drawn buggies of the day but were actually powered by small, centrally mounted petrol engines. Both were made in Chicago, Illinois, one made in 1908 by the Holsman Automobile Co. and the other a 1910 International made by the well-known farm machinery manufacturer, the International Harvester Co.

One of the most popular cars in the collection is the 1917 Detroit Electric Brougham, made by the Anderson Electric Car Co. in Detroit, Michigan. Known colloquially as "Grandma Duck's Car", this electric vehicle was used as a town runabout. Easy to drive and whisper quiet, it was also driven to parties by the owner's teenage daughter without the need of a chauffeur.

The British luxury car maker, Rolls-Royce, represents vintage motoring in the collection with a 1925 Rolls-Royce 20 with an open touring car body built in Sydney by body-builders, Smith & Waddington. A much later example of this marque is represented a 1965 Phantom V used between 1967 and 1981 as a vice-regal car for Sir Roden Cutler, who was Governor of New South Wales.

Several Australian-made cars recall this country's once thriving car manufacturing industry beginning with the rare, 1923 Australian Six made in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield by Australian Motors Ltd. This was decades before the famous FX and FJ Holdens of the 1950s which are both represented in the collection. Other Australian-made cars included are a 1955 Hillman Minx Mk VIII saloon assembled in Melbourne, a quirky 1964 Lightburn Zeta, made in Adelaide, a 1970 Chrysler Valiant Regal VF sedan also made in Adelaide and a 1970 Mini K made at Zetland, Sydney. Australian-made fibreglass bodied sports cars also feature. Both made in Sydney they are the 1959 Goggomobil Dart with body made by Bill Buckle and the 1971 Nota Type IV 'Fang' made in Parramatta by Nota Manufacturing.

There are a couple of handmade racing cars of the 1950s and 60s but the jewel in the crown is the 1928 Type 37A Grand Prix Bugatti which won the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island in 1929.

A number of cars are sectioned to show their internal workings. They were typically shown at motor shows and include a 1965 Ford Falcon XP Deluxe Fordomatic 3S, a 1986 Audi 200 Turbo and a 1998 AU Ford Fairmont Ghia.

One of the most recently-made cars is a 2001 Honda Insight hybrid. Perhaps the next vehicle to be acquired into the collection may be one of the first driverless cars.

Margaret Simpson, Curator
December 2018