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