Detroit to Daytona: American Automobiles

By Jarah Weinreich

The National Automobile Museum of Tasmania's latest theme display offers an extraordinary opportunity to view some of the most sensational and rare automobiles ever to emerge from the USA. Detroit to Daytona: American Automobiles showcases legendary machines spanning eighty years of stylistic and engineering flair.

The automotive culture born in Detroit amounts to more than mere folklore. It was here that Henry Ford created the template for modern manufacturing, and in doing so, built one of the largest and most powerful industrial empires of the twentieth century. Our display features the ultimate fifties Ford, the fabulous 1956 Thunderbird.

Ford's eternal rivals at General Motors, meanwhile, created their own icon in the shape of the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Longer, lower and wider than its predecessors, the Chevrolet was outsold by Ford at launch, but its legacy endures as a symbol of the era. One of the finest examples in the country takes its place in the display.

Just like the all-American heroes of cinema, Charles W. Nash's story was one of success against all odds. Born into a poor farming family, he went on to manage General Motors, and later fulfilled a long-held dream to produce a car bearing his own name. Nash is represented by the stunning 1936 Businessman's' Coupe.

Meanwhile, the 1934 Hudson Convertible is illustrative of this independent company's golden age. Named after Detroit entrepreneur Joseph Hudson, the last of these elegant cars left the production line in 1957.

E.L. Cord was an ambitious Chicago car salesman before he was offered a post at the ailing Auburn Automobile Company in 1924. Within four years, Auburn's fortunes had changed dramatically, and Cord went on to establish the Cord Corporation as a holding company. Cord produced motorcars bearing his own name from 1929. Sadly, the hardship of the 1930s killed Cord's automotive endeavors. Today, his cars are rightly remembered as the most flamboyant and fabled machines of their time.

A magnificent 1936 Auburn 852 Phaeton is displayed along with the superb Cord 812.

1978 saw the twenty-fifth birthday of the Chevrolet Corvette, and to celebrate this milestone General Motors built a special, one off car to be used as the official pace car for the Indianapolis 500. The car caused a sensation, and dealers lobbied General Motors to build a limited production run of replicas. Highly sought after then and now, the featured car arrived in Australia in 2010 with just 34,000 recorded miles.

Running for three months, Detroit to Daytona: American Automobiles at the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania is a truly unique experience to see up close some of the most celebrated and revered creations from an automotive heartland.