Modern Vehicles

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Date range: 
CE 1970 to CE 2013

This National Motor Museum defines the modern collection as those vehicles manufactured between 1970 to the present anywhere in the world. This date generally represents the emergence of the Japanese automotive industry as a major competitior in the western market.

The economic and trade relationship between Australia and Japan grew steadily in the late 1960s and continued to increase through the 1980s, '90s and into the new millenium. Australia provides the predominant source of food and raw materials for Japan, while Japan trades technology such as televisions, computers, cars and motorcycles. Australia also maintains importing American and British cars, but these are often considered luxury marques. Japanese brands were aimed at the broader market and some of the largest brands, such as Mitsubishi and Toyota, eventually established Australian based subsidiary manufacturing facilities by taking over existing manufacturing plants from American and English companies. Local companies, such as Holden, continued their popularity through to the 1990s. However Holden, like many automotive manufacturers, suffered from a long decline in sales, rising costs and reduced tariffs, not helped by the Global Finanical Crisis of 2008/2009. In 2013 General Motors Holden announced that they will cease manufacturing vehicles in Australia in 2017.  This collection features a broad range of vehicles, from the 1970s icon the Holden Sandman, to the 1998 first generation Toyota Prius hybrid car, as well as South Australian Premier Don Dunstan's Datsun 260Z and the armoured 1991 Holden Caprice that served as a Prime Ministerial car during the Paul Keating era.

Collection highlights