Motoring journalist and car enthusiast Brent Davison visited Gosford's Classic Car Museum. We are still trying to wipe the smile from his face, and the museum's detailers are, we imagine, still trying to wipe the drool from the cars.
I SOUNDED, I knew, like Andy Pipkin, that likeable character from the Little Britain television series but I just couldn't help myself.
"I want that one!" I said, pointing to a 1966 Lamborghini Miura. "No, No! I want that one!" This time the object of my desire was a BMW M3 ‘bread van' coupe and then: "I want THAT one!!" as my head swivelled and my eyes took in the gorgeousness of a Ford GT40 replica.
If there was a saving grace for me in all of this, it was that my companion was doing exactly the same thing. In fact, almost every person in the building was probably doing the same thing and those who were not were simply reminiscing.
If automotive heaven exists, it must be the Gosford Classic Car Museum and I was in it. More to the point, I was happy to have paid the 20-buck ticket price. If half-a-day was to be spent then this was the place to spend it.
Understand that this was not mere time-wasting, this was soaking-up a major chunk of the world's automotive history. This was educational, a mix of art appreciation with design and engineering studies with 400-plus ‘text books' laid-out before everyone in the building.
This hallowed place for the automotively tragic is housed in a former hardware store in Stockyard Place, West Gosford. Believe me when I say a trip to any hardware store has never been this good.
It also helps to understand that this is not some stuffy government institution but a labour of love by businessman, collector and auto afficionado Tony Denny and is regarded as one of the world's biggest private car collections with a total value exceeding, it is said, $70 million.
Mr Denny, who invested a sizeable chunk of money in the museum after selling a major shareholding in his European used car network, AAA Automotive, has mixed geography and whimsy with the cars in his collection.
Naturally, Australia is extremely well represented, as are the United States, Germany, Britain, Italy and France – and Japan gets a look-in as well with a few bona fide classics.
Even the former Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies are represented at the museum with a solidly staunch squadron comprising the Lada, FSM, Skoda (the old rear-engined kind, not the modern, VW-derived ones) and Tatra brands along with others carrying unreadable Cyrillic script on their badges
Despite the absolute immersion in vehicular history, museum owner Denny cannot hide his love of the automotive form and solid representation of the Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar and Lamborghini brands reinforces that.
There is the whimsical - a pretty little Goggomobil sedan and an old VW Kombi in full hippie peace paint; the powerful – Roscoe McLashan's amazing Aussie Invader land speed record car; the luxurious – Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz S600 Grosser, Jaguar and Bentley; and the purely desirable – almost everything else.
And that ‘almost everything else' tag covers the 35 Ferraris, 14 Jaguars 10 Lamborghinis, various MGs and Triumphs, Holdens, Chryslers, Fords, a variety of motorcycles and, well, everything else.
Even the exterior of the museum carries on as a museum with an American Airstream caravan serving as the kitchen and counter for the alfresco dining area. Plastic picnic tables and chairs are the order of the day but the burgers and fries are great and the strong line-up of historic military vehicles surrounding the dining area impressive.
Two things came to mind during my visit. The first was that even people with no real interest in cars were enjoying the vast and sumptuous display. The second was that about a quarter of the way through, I was a little disappointed with what the museum doesn't have but by the time I was finished I was hugely impressed with what it does have.
Really, when every second word is "Wow!" and every conversation interrupted by "Look at that!" no-one is going home disappointed.
One memorable moment for me was watching a South Australian pilgrim in his 70s explaining a Ford ‘single spinner' to his non-car enthusiast son. A while later I saw the son standing and admiring an Australian-made Bolwell Mk7 coupe.
"How's it going with the education?" I asked.
"You know, Dad's shown me a lot today. I think I'm getting really interested in all this stuff," was the reply.
Good on you, Dad. Well played.
In the tradition of all good exhibitions, patrons exit through the gift and souvenir shop and at that point Andy Pipkin comes back to visit.
"I want that one. No, no, I want that one! No, I WANT ALL OF THOSE!"
The problem for my personal Andy Pipkin was that I was working to keep my credit card on its leash.
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