Enthusiasts Choice (Evolution and Beyond)

By Jarah Weinreich

For eighteen years, the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania has prided itself on exhibiting historic vehicles in their original form. However, the Museum's new feature display, Enthusiasts' Choice: Evolution and Beyond, offers a unique glimpse at contrasting attitudes towards classic vehicles. For some, originality is valued above all else, and the faded patina of age is an irreplaceable asset. Others lovingly restore their vehicles to better-than-new condition. Then there are the enthusiasts to whom the original vehicle is merely a starting point for an entirely unique design. The new display reflects this by showing original vehicles alongside their modified counterparts.

From the very dawn of the automotive age, owners and enthusiasts have been modifying their machines to increase performance and handling ability, improve appearances, or simply to create a totally unique vehicle. Some of history's most famous race and rally cars resulted from individuals tweaking and modifying ordinary vehicles, while one-off coachbuilt wonders have often influenced standard design.

In the spirit of diversity in the classic car world, the display features five very different vehicles. The EH Holden featured in the display is one of the most sensational modified cars ever built in Tasmania, having won awards at some of Australia's most renowned custom and modified car events. It is displayed alongside an original EH Holden.

The MGA on show boasts a 3.5 litre V8, which was never originally offered by the company. It is joined by a standard example of this celebrated British sports car.

The 'Alfabino', meanwhile, is a completely unique convertible coupe with a moulded fibreglass body. Based on the original Fiat 500, the Alfabino features Alfa Romeo running gear, and represents an extremely high standard of modification.

The iconic Ford Falcon Hardtop was immortalised in the first of the Mad Max films in 1979. Since then, it has occupied a special place in Australian popular culture, and a replica of this world-famous vehicle features in the display.

At the centre of the display is the fabulous Aston Martin DBSZ. The DBSZ is a modern, handcrafted, completely re-bodied interpretation of the legendary Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato. With improved rear suspension, wider track, and larger brakes derived from the DBS donor vehicle, the DBSZ offers enhanced performance and handling, while reflecting Aston Martin's design and attention to detail.

Two superb cafe racer motorcycles complete the display. The term 'cafe racer' was first used in the United Kingdom in the early 1960s to describe stripped down, powerful motorcycles, modified for optimum speed and handling. They quickly became synonymous with the young, rebellious 'rocker' subculture. The owners of such motorcycles would often race between cafes with the goal of reaching 100 mph. (160 km/h.) The classic BMW R90S features alongside a Triton motorcycle, the Triumph-Norton hybrid, mostly privately built during the 1960s.

The National Automobile Museum of Tasmania's latest theme display, Enthusiasts' Choice, offers something for the traditional museum visitor, while taking the opportunity to exhibit some of the state's unique modified vehicles.