Australian motoring history icons on display at Birdwood
New exhibition tracks Australia’s development of the car and the people from the early days of motoring
Australian motoring history icons at Birdwood
The National Motor Museum in Birdwood, South Australia will launch a new permanent exhibition this weekend that brings together a selection of significant vehicles and stories from the first 50 years of Australian motoring.
Sunburnt Country – Icons of Australian Motoring showcases iconic vehicles from over a century of Australian motoring and car manufacturing – from the first car to cross the continent in 1908 to the 1948 Holden. Said to be the most significant exhibition of its kind in over a decade, the display will include photographs and film from household names like Holden, Ford and Kruse, as well as Ding, Bandt, Dutton and Aunger.
One exhibit of particular interest is The Shearer – one of the earliest examples of Australian motoring – a horseless steam-driven carriage built by David and John Shearer dating from 1899.
Another is, The Talbot '474’ – named after its South Australian registration number – is famed for completing the first continental crossing from Adelaide to Darwin in 1908, a journey of 2100 miles and 51 days with everything the rough terrain threw at them, including a bushfire.
Showcasing the beginnings of the quintessential Aussie, is an un-restored but gracefully aged 1934 Ford Coupe Ute, a home-grown hybrid of sedan and light truck. The concept of the Aussie ute was initiated by a letter from a farmer’s wife to Ford in the US in 1933, leading to the development of the design by South Australian Lew Bandt.
Other significant vehicles on display include the following:
· A 1948 Holden, the earliest known surviving example of the 48-215 in South Australia. The exhibit once belonged to the family of James Holden, director at the Holden Woodville plant.
· A 1936 Leyland Badger – the faithful truck which allowed Tom Kruse to deliver mail and supplies on a fortnightly 500km trek along the Birdsville Track. This truck also starred alongside Tom in the 1954 film The Back of Beyond. His adventures are summarised in the exhibition as well as footage from the award winning film and private collection.
· 'The Favourite' motorcycle – one of the four known surviving motorcycles built at the Smith Brothers Garage in Peterborough, South Australia between 1914 and 1921. It takes pride of place at the exhibition's entrance after it was recently re-assembled following major conservation works.
· A rare example of 1920s classic art deco styling from The Australian Six Motor Car Company – known as one of the more successful ventures importing parts to assemble cars in the ’20s.
In addition to historic vehicles, other items on display include Australia’s first driver’s licence, road maps, car mascots, early driving attire, historic footage of vehicle manufacturing in Australia and other motoring memorabilia.
Complementing Sunburnt Country, will be the museum’s other permanent exhibitions, including Model Behaviour – more than 150 old and new toys on display, 100 Years of Motoring – showcasing the eras, the people and the vehicles over the past century, and Time of the Twin – history of twin-cylinder motorcycles including Triumph’s Speed Twin.
The Sunburnt Country exhibition is sponsored by Holden and supported by RAA, visit the National Motor Museum for more information.
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