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Ford Model TT 1924–26

Ford Model TT 1924–26 Photo: National Museum of Australia

Car enthusiasts, start your engines—and start heading towards Goulburn. Well,  not until Saturday, 17 August because that’s when the National Museum of Australia will be taking 12 historic vehicles from its car collection for a spin around the track at Wakefield Park Raceway near Goulburn.

‘A Chequered Past’ will cover a whole century of car history through the selected vehicles and will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see them in action. It’s the first time some of these cars have been on public display and the first time so many of the collection can be seen in one place.

The cars on display have done quite a bit of mileage: they’ve carried royalty, created racing history, transported adventurers around the country,  taken the prime minister to work, and got the nation singing .

The vehicles cover a lot of years and vehicle types, but they’ve also been chosen for the roles they’ve played in Australia’s history.

‘Each vehicle was collected for the range of stories they have to tell about industry, adventure, advertising, technology, passion and Australia’s connections to the world, not as an example of type,’ explains curator Laina Hall.

So it’s not just car buffs who will enjoy the days. It’s also a feast for anyone interested in Australia’s social history.

One of the heroes of the collection is the dark green 1967 Brabham Repco  1 V8 racing car, which was constructed and raced by Sir Jack Brabham,  legendary racing car driver and Formula One champion, and Ron Rauranac. The car recorded the fastest lap in the 1967 Tasman Series in New Zealand of one minute and 25 seconds, but although it retains some original components, I don’t think it will be going that fast on Saturday.

Brabham BT23A-1 Repco V8 1967 Photo: National Museum of Australia

Brabham BT23A-1 Repco V8 1967 Photo: National Museum of Australia

Those old enough may even remember the bright blue Model T- Ford that was used to promote Aeroplane Jelly from 1978 to 1988, pictured above. Even if you don’t remember the car, you’re probably singing the song right now.

There’s royalty among the cars  with a stately and carefully conserved Daimler landaulette, one of the most treasured cars in the museum’s collection, which was used by Queen Elizabeth II during her iconic tour of Australia in 1954, a tour which was met with wild excitement around the country. Almost as big as the Beatles.

Another vehicle used for Queen Elizabeth II for her royal tours in 1963, 1970 and 1977—a 1958  Landrover ‘Special 88’ SWB Utility— will also make the trip to Goulburn. Modifications were made to the vehicle, as suggested by the Queen, which included lowering the hand rails and adding a perspex windshield to protect her and her outfit from the wind while allowing a better view for the public. The Queen had requested an open top vehicle for better viewing and was quite prepared to use an umbrella if necessary. What a champ.

An S Series Bentley used by Sir Robert Menzies will be displayed, one of four luxurious Bentleys purchased by the Australian government in 1964 for ceremonial and VIP use. Menzies used to watch the football at the Carlton Football Club from the vehicle, on a specially built platform. He must have been very fond of his car and retained both the Bentley and its driver when he retired in 1966 until his death.

Bentley ‘S’ Series 3 1964

Bentley ‘S’ Series 3 1964 Photo: National Museum of Australia

Other vehicles include a Type C torpedo Citroen car (bright yellow!) driven around Australia in 1925, a Sundowner Bean 14 hp  driven by Francis Birtles on his record-breaking journey from London to Melbourne in 1927, a Wolseley 1500 saloon sedan and an FX Holden sedan, the first commercially sold Holden. More modern days will be represented by one of the last Holden Calais to be manufactured at the GM Holden factory in South Australia before its closure in 2017, marking the end of an era of Australian car manufacturing.

The vehicles will be on display between 10am and 3pm and will also do a number of laps around the track, both individually and in groups. That not only means great photo opps for car enthusiasts and photographers, but illustrates the important conservation work of the museum to maintain the vehicles in working order.

It won’t all be about the cars. Visitors will be able to make a day with it with food stalls on site and a range of activities for kids. The aptly named singer and entertainer Frankie J Holden will be MC on the day. I wonder if he’ll sing?

Car clubs are invited to take part in a “Show ‘n Shine” and members of the public are welcome to bring their own car treasures.

You can find more information about the event  and the stories behind the individual vehicles at the museum’s website, where you can also book tickets for the event.