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.
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.
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.
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.
Written by Chloe Appleby, Curatorial Intern, January 2019