Find the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
What are the Museum’s collection priorities?
The National Motor Museum collects objects related to Australian motoring history with two principle collecting areas: vehicles and non-motoring objects.Vehicles include cars, motorcycles, recreational/4WDs, caravans, and light delivery and commercial vehicles. Unfortunately, we cannot accept offers of bicycles or horse-drawn vehicles, though we have accepted a small number of alternative energy vehicles. All vehicles in the collection represent Australian manufacturing history or are international marques and models representative of Australian motoring consumer tastes.
The non-motoring collection includes images, garagenalia, costume, petroliana, toys and models and motoring books. We do not, in general, accept quantities of unidentified spare parts, but we do accept some original packaging and those items still in their original packaging.
What happened to all the non-motoring objects at the Birdwood Mill?
The Birdwood Mill Museum, now the National Motor Museum, was established by private owners and collectors in 1964 and featured curios, collectables, local arts and crafts, and an aircraft, alongside a motoring collection. Many of our visitors fondly remember some of the more curious objects, such as a double-headed calf or the aircraft housed on the top floor of the old mill.
In 1976 the South Australian Government purchased the Museum from a consortium of private owners and in 1982 management of the Birdwood Mill Museum was transferred to the History Trust of SA (now History SA). In 1988 it formally became the National Motor Museum (Australia) and the collection focus has since concentrated exclusively on Australian motoring history. Some of the non-motoring collection was returned to private lenders or loaned/transferred to other state collections and museums, such as the aircraft which now resides at the South Australian Aviation Museum at Port Adelaide. The majority of the horse-drawn vehicle collection has been transferred to the National Trust Museum at Millicent. Many items are currently in storage and possibly available on request, though we cannot always guarantee access.
Would the Museum like some information about a vehicle on display?
The National Motor Museum has almost 300 vehicles on display, of which most are part of the State Collection. However, a significant number of vehicles are on loan from private individuals. If you have information relating to a specific vehicle which is part of the collection we would certainly welcome any additional information and images relating to that specific vehicle to add to our research files. If that vehicle is on loan we would be happy to contact the private owner on your behalf and provide your contact details. Please email the Museum at [email protected]
Does the Museum provide vehicle valuations?
Vehicle valuation is a highly specialised field undertaken by experienced and accredited individuals for commercial purposes. This is not considered a part of the National Motor Museum’s operating practices.
However, the Australian Commonwealth Government provides a list of certified and accredited professional valuers for the purposes of the Federal Government Cultural Gifts Program, and we would recommend you consult this list if you wish to have an official and fully documented valuation for purposes such as estate planning. For general vehicle valuations, we suggest you undertake a comparative online search of second hand car sales for current market values.
Click here to access the Cultural Gifts Program website and find an approved valuer.
I want to sell my vehicle, can you help?
The National Motor Museum has a limited acquisition budget and is not normally in a position to purchase vehicles, nor are we able to place vehicles on display for the purposes of private sale. We do not sell vehicles on consignment or on behalf of private owners. We do welcome loan offers which are assessed on a case by case basis. You are welcome to contact us for information about our procedures.
I believe my vehicle was once on display at the National Motor Museum, can you tell me if this is true?
Many vehicles have been displayed at the National Motor Museum since its inception as the Birdwood Mill Museum in 1964. In the early days the Museum was in private hands and its then owners bought and sold many vehicles depending on their own collection preferences. Since the Museum was purchased by the South Australian Government most vehicles have either become part of the State Collection or have been loaned to the Museum by private individuals. Your vehicle may have once been at the Museum on loan from a previous private owner. If this is the case we are unable to put you in contact with the previous owner due to privacy laws. However, we will endeavour to contact them on your behalf if you so wish. It is then up to the previous owner as to whether they contact you.
Can the Museum help me restore a car?
The National Motor Museum is not in a position to take on outside restorations though we are able to provide some limited advice. However, the Museum is a division of History SA, a South Australian statutory authority and as such we cannot recommend a specific individual commercial restorer. For technical information, we can consult the technical reference collection as part of the George Brooks Library and Learning Centre. For more information please see the Research FAQs -technical information.
Can you answer technical questions about a specific car model?
The National Motor Museum has a technical collection, as part of the George Brooks Library and Learning Centre, which includes reference items such as workshop manuals, parts manuals, and owners manuals. We are happy to consult these on your behalf. Under copyright law we are limited to the amount of a publication that we can photocopy for you. Alternately you can access the library by appointment.
You can email your enquiry to the Museum at [email protected]
Please ensure you include the following:
- Year of manufacturer
- Chassis number (if known)
- Engine number (if known)
- Body number (if known)