Recollect: Cars Auto Obsession

GoggomobilThe Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences will for the first time showcase its extraordinary car collection in a new display at the Powerhouse Museum. Auto Obsession is part of a new Re-Collection project to ensure greater public access to the Museum’s rich collection.

Featuring over 25 restored and original historic cars, Auto Obsession comprises a curious, eclectic and fascinating collection from luxury tourers and family sedans to racing and sports cars.  Iconic cars from Australian automotive history including a 1955 FJ Holden, a 1965 Ford Falcon XP, and a 1970 Chrysler Valiant Regal VF will be seen alongside the lesser-known, but strikingly quirky, 1964 Lightburn Zeta runabout and 1971 Nota Fang IV prototype sports car.

Auto Obsession highlights our love affair and lifelong obsession with cars,” says Rose Hiscock, Director, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. “It is fitting that a car show is the first in our new Re-Collection series where we will bring the Museum’s extraordinary collection out of the vaults and on public display,”

Many of the cars in Auto Obsession are time capsules of automotive history, having had little work done on them other than to preserve them in carefully monitored storage conditions. They can be compared to the much sort-after “barn find” cars in the current collector market.

The display will include one of the most popular cars in the collection – the 1959 Goggomobil Dart, a little red sports cars made in Sydney by Bill Buckle.  Called a mini-car or baby car, it’s characterised by a small engine with high power output, low fuel consumption and simplicity.  Made of light and strong fibreglass, its body design, inspired by a Jaguar XJ 120, sits so low to the ground doors weren’t needed, you just stepped in.

A special car of State significance is the 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, used between 1966 and 1981 by the NSW Governor, Sir Roden Cutler, as his official car. It was the ultimate in engineering and luxury and geared low to permit driving at very slow speed for ceremonial occasions. The car is fitted with gold-painted crowns instead of number plates, a police radio, which enabled the chauffeur to call ahead to have the traffic lights changed if the Governor was running late, and an electrically-operated glass screen which separated the driver from his rear passengers.

The rarest car in the Museum’s collection is the 1913 Sheffield Simplex luxury tourer, one of only three surviving made by the Sheffield Simplex Motor Works Ltd, England.  Like Rolls-Royce, each Sheffield Simplex car was built to the client’s specifications for body style, accessories and colours. Each car was painstakingly built from quality materials and components.

Also on display will be the Museum’s extensive collection of Matchbox cars, arguably the largest such collection in Australia. It has been claimed that in the halcyon days of Matchbox in the 1960s, Australians purchased more of the little die-cast toy cars per capita than any other country. Today, Matchbox cars still surface from dusty shoeboxes and family garages decades after they were purchased and played with.

The Matchbox display will be a whimsical ride through automotive history in miniature. It will be a great hit for little and big kids alike and will include the first Matchbox toy, the very collectible Aveling and Barford diesel road roller.

Recollect: Cars Auto Obsession
Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo
Exhibition: 9 August – 26 October 2014
Free entry after general admission

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: 1959 Goggomobil Dart – photo courtesy of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences