Inside the Collection

MAAS Cars at Parramatta’s CARnivale 2019

Small pale woman in a blue t-shirt, jean shorts and black cap stands on grass between two classic cars with her arms outstretched. Car on the left is green and black and the other on the right is light and dark brown. Behind her is a white fabric marquee with three roofed points and multicoloured flags blowing in the breeze.
Curatorial Intern, Chloe Appleby, with the Museum’s 1927 Austin Seven “Chummy” and 1923 Australian Six in front of the MAAS CARnivale marquee, Parramatta Park, NSW, Photo: Ernie MAAS Volunteer

Over the recent long weekend, I was thrilled to assist with the Museum’s participation in the annual CARnivale festival. Held for the second year in Sydney’s Parramatta Park on 26 January, CARnivale displayed over 400 classic vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, fire engines and ambulances, all made before 1987!

At 5 am on the morning of the event at the Museums Discovery Centre deep store, two important examples of Australian automotive history, a 1927 Austin Seven “Chummy” and the extremely rare 1923 Australian Six, were loaded onto a low-loader to be carefully transported to the event. They had been carefully cleaned beforehand by the Museum’s Conservators.

Low angle close shot of a green classic car on grass. Front right wheel is the closest object in the photo.
The Museum’s 10.5hp Austin Seven tourer. MAAS Collection: BI5I5. It was given its nickname because it was so small the occupants had to sit very close. Photo: Chloe Appleby, MAAS Intern

Why are these cars so important to Australian motoring history? Well…

This 1927 Austin Seven, colloquially known as a “Chummy”, was made by the Austin Motor Co. Ltd in Birmingham, England. Though it was imported to Australia, this automobile made motoring more accessible to ordinary people and replaced motorcycles and sidecars as an inexpensive means of family transport. The “Chummy” was marketed towards women, specifically wives, as a second family car to visit friends, go golfing and the shops.

Low angle close shot of a dark and light brown classic car on grass. Front left wheel is the closest object in the photo. The sun is at the centre of the top section of the photo.
The Museum’s six cylinder 1923 Australian Six tourer model H23, made by Australian Six Motors Ltd, Ashfield, NSW. Gift of Modern Motor Magazine, 1963. MAAS Collection: B1507. Photo: Chloe Appleby, MAAS Intern

But the star attraction of the day was the 1923 Australian Six, which marks a turning point for 20th century automotive mass production in Australia. If you thought it was the 1948 Holden that was the first, think again! Between 1918 and 1925, Australian Motors Ltd produced 500 automobiles in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield – and only 16 of the original 500 or so cars have survived. This Australian Six was fully restored in the 1960s using an Australian Six which had been converted into a ute and used on a farm near Mudgee, NSW. It was restored with parts of a second Australian Six in the 1960s under the guidance of Don Harkness.

Four men and one woman wearing hats are standing in a semi-circle in front of dark and light brown classic car on a grass field. The man on the right has a long white beard and is holding a brochure of a small red car. Behind them is a white fabric shelter and a coloured advertising banner.
Principal Curator, Matthew Connell, and Curatorial Intern, Chloe Appleby, with MAAS volunteers, Norm, Richard and Ernie, who kindly gave up their Saturday to assist, standing outside the MAAS CARnivale 2019 marquee. Photo: CARnivale Staff
A light and dark brown classic car is at the bottom right hand side of the photo. Behind it are rows of multicoloured cars parked on a grass field. Tall green dress are in the background.
Rows and rows of classic cars at CARnivale 2019, Parramatta Park. Photo: Chloe Appleby, MAAS Intern

After their big day out, the two cars were loaded back onto the low loader for their safe return to the Museums Discovery Centre. As I was the lightest and smallest of the group, I had the privilege to assist in loading both vehicles onto the low loader by steering them into place as they were slowly towed onto the trailer.

Meeting fellow ‘rev’ heads, exchanging fun car facts and stories, and showing off some of our favourite automobiles made CARnivale a truly memorable experience for me.

You can see more of the cars in the Museum’s collection on our Online Collection.

Pale woman in a light blue t-shirt and a black cap wearing white cotton gloves is steering a dark and light brown classic car onto a trailer of a low loader. A man wearing a blue button-down shirt, blue shorts and a straw hat is in the background to the left side taking photos on a phone.
Loading the Australian Six onto the low loader with Curatorial Intern, Chloe Appleby, steering the car into place and Principal Curator, Matthew Connell, in the background taking photos. Photo: Richard, MAAS Volunteer
A black and white spotted dog with its tongue out lying on grass with its two legs stretched out in front. The dog has a blue collar and leash.
A good boy relaxing amongst the cars at CARnivale 2019. Photo: Chloe Appleby, MAAS Intern

Written by Chloe Appleby, Curatorial Intern, January 2019

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