State History Collection

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The National Motor Museum collection first began in 1964 when a motorcycle enthusiast, Jack Kaines, was told by his wife to remove his motorcycle bits and pieces from the family kitchen. The derelict flour mill buildings in Birdwood seemed the ideal location to store his collection. It was soon open to the public on weekends and accepted donations of community history objects. Fellow motoring enthusiast Len Vigar helped run the Museum until 1970 when a private company led by Gavin Sandford-Morgan purchased what was then called the Birdwood Mill Pioneer, Art and Motor Museum. In 1976 it was sold to the South Australian State Government. Since 1988 the Museum has been the responsibility of History SA and has established a reputation both nationally and internationally.  

Visitors to the Museum are surprised to see so many vehicles on display - over 300 of them across three pavilions, in addition to a restored 1920s petrol station and a selection of motoring related items. Some special features include vehicles that have helped to shape both Australia’s motoring and social history, such as the legendary Tom Kruse’s 1936 Leyland Badger and the 1908 Talbot, the first car to cross the Australian continent. The Museum collection contains many popular marques and models from over a century of motoring, along with collectables such as toy and model cars and an extensive research collection of books, journals and advertising brochures. More information about some of the most popular and significant vehicles from the collection are detailed in the categories below.

Title Type
Antique Vehicles Physical collection
Automobilia Physical collection
Classic Vehicles Physical collection
Commercial Vehicles Physical collection
Image Collection Digital collection
Modern Vehicles Physical collection
Motorcycles Physical collection
Post-Vintage Vehicles Physical collection
Technical Collection Physical collection
Toys & Models Physical collection
Veteran Vehicles Physical collection
Vintage Vehicles Physical collection