Pride of Germany.
By Jarah Weinreich
The National Automobile Museum of Tasmania's feature floor has been spectacularly transformed once again, this time to host a stunning array of German machinery. Pride of Germany runs until December 15th, and will delight and amaze visitors of all ages.
For well over one hundred years, Mercedes-Benz has been at the forefront of technology and innovation. The Stuttgart marque is represented by two iconic sporting motorcars. The beautiful 1966 230SL is the definitive Mercedes-Benz classic of the 1960s, while its modern counterpart, the SLS AMG, represents the ultimate in contemporary design and engineering.
The Porsche 356 was a revolutionary design which re-wrote the sports car rulebook with its rear-engined layout. A superb example is on display alongside a 1970 Porsche 911 and a Ruf-enhanced 1988 Porsche 930. One of the most iconic and familiar sports cars of all time, the Porsche 911 has been the Stuttgart manufacturer's flagship model for some fifty years.
The Volkswagen Beetle, meanwhile, was nothing short of a worldwide phenomenon. Emerging from a bomb-damaged plant after the Second World War, it remained in production for almost six decades, and became one of the most significant cars of the twentieth century. A classic 1966 example of this German icon is presented in the display.
A Volkswagen industrial pumper is also featured in the display. Based on the immortal Kombi, this unique fire appliance was delivered new to the Cadbury-Fry and Pascall Company in 1966 to protect its confectionary plant at Claremont, Tasmania. The Volkswagen spent eighteen years at the Claremont site before it was retired in 1984. Incredibly, this vehicle has covered only 2202 miles (3500kms) since new.
BMW came close to financial ruin in the 1950s. In the early 1960s, work began on the 'New Class' series of saloons and coupes which would guarantee the company's future financial security. The BMW 2002 came about when two senior BMW employees installed two-litre engines in their 1600-2 cars for personal use. This coincided with a request from North American BMW dealer Max Hoffman for a high-performance BMW car for the U.S. market. The result was the 2002, launched in 1968.
An excellent 1973 2002 is featured alongside a 1984 BMW 323i John Player Special. The John Player brand sponsored the BMW race team in the early 1980s. To promote this, BMW Australia launched a special edition 323i based on the racing car. Less than 140 JPS BMWs were built, and today they are highly sought after collectors' items.
The 1958 Messerschmitt KR200 is another rare and intriguing addition to the display. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Messerschmitt company had to change tactics fast to stay afloat. Production of the infamous aircraft ceased, and the company began manufacturing automobile parts. Production of the Messerschmitt began in 1955, and today the cars attract a cult following across the world.
No German display would be complete without a selection of the motorcycles for which the country was renowned. The striking 1953 DKW RT250, although relatively unknown today, was the basis for a successful line of Harley-Davidsons and BSAs, while the 1954 Adler MB250 is the archetypal classic German motorcycle.
Just as BMW motorcars have earned a reputation for durability and performance, so too have the company's two-wheeled products, perfectly exemplified in the 1968 BMW R60/2. These rugged motorcycles, designed primarily for use with sidecars, were noted for their quality and reliability.
Pride of Germany, running until December 15th at the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania, is a unique opportunity to view a diverse and exceptional collection of some of Germany's finest vehicles.