Aaron Noo­nan

Australian Muscle Car - - Maniac -

As you could imag­ine, I get asked a lot of ques­tions about a wide range of top­ics from learned (and some not so learned!) mo­tor­sport fans. One of the most pop­u­lar ones that ll my email box is re­lated to mem­o­ra­bilia. Whether it’s some­one with some­thing tucked away they would like a val­u­a­tion for (you’re gen­er­ally best to check on eBay or Gumtree be­fore look­ing much fur­ther) or per­haps some­one look­ing to see where they can source a par­tic­u­lar item, it seems there’s all sorts of mem­o­ra­bilia out there on all lev­els of the scale.

To be bru­tally hon­est, it’s ac­tu­ally a ridicu­lous amount of con­tact I re­ceive on this sub­ject! Maybe there’s enough in­ter­est that we set up a ‘Rac­ing An­tiques Roadshow’ and tak­ing it on the road one day!

Maybe AMC’s read­ers can send in some let­ters to our es­teemed ed­i­tor out­lin­ing the high­lights of your mem­o­ra­bilia col­lec­tion? Just a thought. But just what is mem­o­ra­bilia? I ac­tu­ally thought I’d check the dic­tio­nary for a nice, lit­eral, mean­ing and one I came up with was ‘ob­jects kept or col­lected be­cause of their as­so­ci­a­tions with mem­o­rable peo­ple or events.’

Seems pretty sim­ple re­ally, but then again, what counts as mem­o­ra­bilia and what doesn’t? It’s all in the eye of the be­holder… (ED: When it comes to Tooheys 1000-era Bathurst mem­o­ra­bilia, per­haps that should be ‘all in the eye of the beer­holder’. Boom tish!)

I wan­dered through the Mus­cle Car Mas­ters re­cently and Kevin Bartlett’s col­lec­tion of mem­o­ra­bilia – grab the last is­sue of this mag­a­zine to see a great fea­ture story fo­cused on it – put the topic un­der the spot­light even more.

Cer­tainly there are some nice mem­o­ra­bilia items pro­duced as col­lec­tor’s pieces over the years, like classy framed and signed prints for ex­am­ple, but there have been many more to­tally junk at­tempts at cre­at­ing items.

But you can’t ‘cre­ate’ orig­i­nal stuff. I’m talk­ing about the items from back in the day or more cor­rectly ‘there on the day’. Things like race­suits, hel­mets, win­ner’s gar­lands, tro­phies and dis­tin­guish­able parts from cars of the past.

I’m fortunate to have been able to ac­quire a few nice items, one that re­ally has a spe­cial mean­ing to me is Greg Mur­phy’s 2004 Bathurst-win­ning Kmart Rac­ing suit. It’s been beau­ti­fully framed and is a signi cant piece of mem­o­ra­bilia. Not only is it an au­then­ti­cated Bathurst race win­ner’s suit, but I was the PR guy for the team that sea­son, and ended up in a man hug ses­sion with Murph wear­ing said suit in parc ferme post-race be­fore es­cort­ing him to the podium!

I have no doubt there are AMC read­ers with all sorts of great stuff tucked away in their cup­boards and garages. But with all mem­o­ra­bilia it’s cru­cial to do your home­work.

Nat­u­rally, having some form of au­then­ti­ca­tion for your piece is ul­tra-im­por­tant for its value. In terms of modern items, Su­per­cars teams gen­er­ally pro­vide a signed certi cate out­lin­ing what race or track the speci c car part/panel was used at or from. Pho­to­graphs can help to val­i­date or sup­port a the­ory that a cer­tain driver wore a cer­tain suit at a cer­tain race meet­ing with badge po­si­tion­ing, stitch lines etc.

How­ever, be­ing able to val­i­date all sorts of other pieces from the past can be, and is, very tricky. If you’re think­ing about buy­ing an item, I strongly sug­gest do­ing as much re­search and home­work as pos­si­ble.

Mem­o­ra­bilia auc­tions over­seas with mo­tor­sport items are com­mon but in Aus­tralia they are rel­a­tively rare.

Ear­lier in the year I was wan­der­ing around the Bendigo swap meet (if you’ve never been be­fore I highly rec­om­mend it!) and ended up buy­ing some old Brooks auc­tion­eers cat­a­logues from some auc­tions in Lon­don in the late 1990s for a few bucks. Packed with in­ter­est­ing road and race­cars, it was the mo­tor­sport mem­o­ra­bilia lots listed that re­ally grabbed my at­ten­tion. They were packed with all sorts: For­mula 1 and Le Mans win­ners signed race­suits, hel­mets used by Emer­son Fit­ti­paldi, Keke Ros­berg, Alain Prost, a Benet­ton F1 steer­ing wheel, Ger­hard Berger’s ’93 Fer­rari race­suit, a Nigel Mansell ’87 Wil­liams suit, Alan Jones ’78 Wil­liams suit, of­fi­cial FIA re­sults sheets framed and signed by the win­ners of those par­tic­u­lar Grands Prix and even the nose cone from the Jordan driven to vic­tory at Spa by Da­mon Hill in ’98.

So that all lead me to think: if I was charged with putting to­gether a col­lec­tion of Aus­tralian mo­tor­sport mem­o­ra­bilia with bud­get not a con­cern, what would be the big-ticket items?

Surely some­thing Brock and Bathurst would gure prominently, maybe his 1987 Bathurst­win­ning Mo­bil HDT suit? And clearly it would need F1- avour with some hel­mets and suits rep­re­sent­ing Sir Jack Brab­ham and Alan Jones.

What about some body­work from Wayne Gard­ner’s ’87 World Cham­pi­onship-win­ning Honda? Or a door from Dick John­son’s Green­sTuf Fal­con XE from Bathurst ’83 (yes, I know one sold last year too!)? Or per­haps we could nd the rst-ever Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship tro­phy won by David McKay in 1960? Or nd the rst Aus­tralian Grand Prix-win­ning Wil­liams from ’85 from the Ade­laide era?

Mem­o­ra­bilia is lit­er­ally an end­less pos­si­bil­ity, which is one of the great things about it.

Would you con­sider race­cars to be pieces of mem­o­ra­bilia? Us­ing the dic­tio­nary de ni­tion out­lined ear­lier, I would in­deed say yes. How­ever, they are clearly at the up­per end of price when it comes to mem­o­ra­bilia items and are out of reach for most peo­ple.

But just as the true worth of an item can only be judged by what some­one is pre­pared to pay for it, so too can the de­ter­mi­na­tion of what is mem­o­ra­bilia only be deemed by what some­one is pre­pared to do to get it. And that, I reckon, is a whole other topic for an­other col­umn…

Broad­caster and jour­nal­ist Aaron Noo­nan op­er­ates the pop­u­lar V8 Sleuth web­site, which is ded­i­cated to trac­ing, track­ing, record­ing and ar­chiv­ing mo­tor­sport his­tory of all kinds – with a pri­mary fo­cus on the his­to­ries of in­di­vid­ual rac­ing cars. Visit www.v8sleuth.com.au

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