Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


THE GOSFORD Classic Car Museum is in West Gosford, Australia, more than 7400 miles from my southern California home. Yet, through the wonders of the Internet, I have just visited there and discovered a lot: a sports car new to my experience, a world-speed-record car sharing name—and power—with my favorite aircraft, and another that’s kin to a cross-country automobile of my own.

West Gosford is 48 miles north of Sydney, the state capital of New South Wales. Were I to visit in real life, I’d opt for the daily ferry service that runs up and down the coast.

The Gosford is the largest car museum in the Southern Hemisphere, with more than 450 automobiles, motorcycles and military vehicles arrayed in a vast hall. Its marques range from A to W, an Aero 662 Czech roadster of 1932 to a Wolseley 24/80 saloon driven by the wife of Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies in the 1960s.

A well-executed Gosford website encouraged my virtual visit. Also, the museum’s Facebook page links to a zillion more neat photos and videos.

The Gosford obviously has a good number of Holdens and Fords, some of the latter Australian-built, others from the old country. And also 35 Ferraris, 11 Porsches ranging from a 356A to a Carrera GT, six Lamborghinis and a McLaren 650S.

There’s an historical progression of MGs: a TC, TD, TF, MGA, MGB, MGB GT, MGC (the six-cylinder variant) and MG RV8 (the Rover-engine version), along with an earlier (and fetching) YA saloon.

One of the Gosfords highlights entirely new to me is the Bolwell Mk 7.

Bolwell Mk 7.

Bolwell produced sports cars, initially in kit form, between 1962 and 1979. There were perhaps 400 Mk 7s produced using many Holden components. The firm lay dormant until the Melbourne Motor Show in March 2008, where it exhibited a prototype Bolwell Nagari, a mid-engine design with Toyota V-6 power. The Mk X Nagari is still in production, albeit limited, what with a price ranging from Australian $150,000 to $250,000 ($112,000–$187,000 U.S.).

The name De Havilland Rapide Special caught my eye: The De Havilland Dragon Rapide is my favorite aircraft, a graceful 1930s-vintage biplane airliner.

My personal Rapide, thanks to GMax and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

The Rapide aircraft was powered by twin De Havilland Gipsy Six engines, each displacing 9.2 liters and producing 200 hp at 2350 rpm on 70-octane fuel of the era.

The De Havilland Rapide Special.

Melbourne enthusiast Warren Bonning built the De Havilland Rapide Special in 1997, inspired by classic Brooklands race cars powered by aero engines.

The Gipsy Queen makes delightful aero sounds in the De Havilland Rapide Special.

There’s a special place in my heart for such wonderful automotive contrivances, what with my brief drive of the fabulous Napier-Railton.

Am I enjoying myself? Wha’cha think?

An Austin Mini Moke was my cross-country automotive partner back in 1991, and one of its kin resides at the Gosford.

Leyland Moke.

The museum’s Australian-built Moke dates from 1980 and sports high-performance 1275-cc power. My Mokes (I did this madness twice…) were the original 848-cc versions. Mokes were built in Australia from 1966 to 1981; its Leyland moniker arose from corporate happenings back in Britain in 1973.

Offered to Her Majesty’s forces as a parachute-droppable vehicle, the original Mini Moke’s only military use was by the Royal Navy on aircraft carriers. Later fame came to Australian Mokes when they were used by the Israeli Army, complete with a rear-mounted machine gun. Talk about fire power!

Coming completely full circle on my Gosford tour, I note that the museum’s Moke is a Californian model. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2017

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