Classic Vehicles

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Date range: 
1946 to 1969

This collection is defined as those vehicles built between 1 January 1946 and 31 December 1969 and is based on the period between the end of the Second World War, when production of civilian vehicles resumed, and the emergence of a strong Japanese automotive industry. The collection includes a wide variety of post-Second World War vehicles from British, American and Australian manufacturers. This was the age of the family car, when car ownership increased significantly, and many families acquired a second car.

This collection is representative of a period of peak production in the British and American vehicle manufacturing industries and the emergence of an Australian industry. American cars of the period can be characterised by their large size and engine capacity, while the British cars of the period tended to be smaller in size and engine capacity, but with higher power to weight ratios. The collection reveals the period’s propensity for materials such as steel, the extensive and elaborate adornment of surfaces with chrome and wood veneer, and the emergence of new materials such as plastic. In 1948 Holden released the first ‘All-Australian’ car, the 48-215. In general, Australian vehicle manufacturers of this period tended to mirror their American counterparts, albeit on a slightly more prudent scale. These vehicles represent to many enthusiasts the ‘golden age’ of motoring when environmental, resource and social considerations such as pollution, fuel consumption and traffic jams were not fundamental issues. It was the heyday, when motoring was fun, exhilarating and liberating. This era ends with the emergence of a strong Japanese-based motor industry and a shift towards economical considerations in both car manufacturing and ownership.
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