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TRAFALGAR’S Holden Museum celebrated its first birthday on the weekend. The unmissable white and red building on Waterloo Road has been a popular stop for tourists and the volunteer group behind it has much more to come. Spokesperson Peter McCabe talked to WBBC on Saturday:

First published in the 30 October 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen newspaper.

One year in, how’s it going?
Fantastic, we’ve had pretty good weekends most of the year. We’re only open weekends and public holidays and the cold weather kept a few people away, but now we’re getting a few people who’ve had their cars put away for the winter coming out and we’ve had a few other attractions coming in. We’ve had a change over of Holdens in general, like, local people who own cars [have allowed us] to display them here. We’ve got the Monaro collection at the moment, they’re… a big thing at the moment. We have the Hurricane (a futuristic concept car built in 1969) on loan from Holden for a month so that’s a big drawcard, and we’ve got a T Model Ford built in 1923 being restored.

So Holden built a Ford?
Holden built Fords, that’s right. In fact, Holden was bodying something like 93 different car bodies at one stage. It’s really incredible what else they made – from guns to aeroplane engines. Fridges, stoves, washing machines – who would’ve thought Holden would’ve built them! It just goes on and on, and we’re learning all the time; older people may come in and say ‘oh, they built this’ and we look into it… and chase it up.

Your display is rotational. Will people who came for your opening see something different if they return?
Yes, and we’re going to build a shed out the back so we can take everything out of the building, put it in the shed and have a compete change over. We were thinking of featuring [just individual models] at a time.

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Above: Mick Brennan with the Model T Ford he and George Tagliabue are restoring at the museum. The restoration has involved sourcing components from several vehicles.

How do you find cars to display?
We’re all enthusiasts here. We’re in car clubs, we know people and it’s very easy to source vehicles. Because we’re a museum and getting known [well], we’re having people come from far and wide. From every state in Australia.

You can always tell when you’re open because there’s probably about as many classic cars outside as there are inside…
The real car show is out in the street most of the time. I have a camera, I go out and photograph as many visitors’ cars as I can, and we will have those photos flashing over the big screen soon.

Is it just Holden fans turning up?
No, it’s not. And I ask myself ‘if this was a Ford museum, would I be going to have a look?’ And I would be very disappointed with myself if I never did. It’s not just about cars, the stuff here, manufactured by an Australian company, is real history. It’s our heritage. We have people coming here whose fathers and great grandfathers worked for Holden, and just to think we’re losing that. I just hope it can be diversified somehow or another.

Which new cars do you think will be the classics of the future?
I think the later model Monaro, which we have one on display. They’re not making them any more, and just the fact it’s a Monaro, it’s called a Monaro, I know I’m going out to buy one very soon. They finished in about 2005.

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Above: the Hurricane.

Are there any more unlikely future classics?
The younger generation comes in here and they want to see Commodores, and that’s the way it’s going. A VL Calais is a very collectible car, people love VL Commodores, that’s about ’87, ’88, they’re going to become very popular. Even the 1978 model Commodore. And they tell me now vintage and veteran cars don’t have the same demand, they’re not bringing the money they did because the generation which was collecting them has died out. The next generation is not interested in them, which is really incredible in itself.

What have been the most popular exhibits you’ve displayed?
We have an FJ station wagon which is one of only seven or eight ever built by a mob known as the Cordell group. It’s a very popular vehicle which people do go out of their way to come and admire, and Holden itself never really produced any. We have an XU-1 Torana in there, I think everyone loves an XU-1 Torana because they were the ones which knocked off the GDHO Falcons at Bathurst. Even the Ford people admire some Holdens, as some Holden people admire Fords, and I’m one of them.

What else can people expect in the next year?
The restored Model T will come out in a couple of months and we are in the process of securing a W class tram, which Holden manufactured parts of. We hope GMH will bring up the odd prototype. Holden loaned us the futuristic FJ and we had, I think, 1,800 people through in two days to view that. So if we can keep getting attractions like that it will certainly keep this place alive and well.

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Above: birthday celebrations.

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