After 30 years, one of the Canberra region's smallest and most eclectic motor museums will close its doors this weekend as the Binalong Motor Museum puts millions of dollars worth of cars, motorcycles and automotive memorabilia under the auctioneer's hammer.
Established by former Canberra eye surgeon Dr Stuart Saunders and solicitor John Fitzpatrick in a little hamlet about 35 kilometres from Yass, the Binalong Motor Museum was the product of a shared passion for classic and vintage machinery.
The museum was built from scratch, starting with the acquisition of a paddock, then the building of a shed, and growing into a much larger premises with a workshop attached to house their shared and growing collections. Along the way they created the Binalong Early Motoring Club, which exists to this day.
Both men now retired, Mr Fitzpatrick moved to Melbourne and Dr Saunders took over the premises, opening the collection for viewing on an informal basis whenever anyone, mostly enthusiasts, dropped by to wander through and have a chat about old cars and motorcycles.
"I've been collecting and restoring old cars since I first started studying medicine back in Britain," Dr Saunders.
"It started as a hobby and then when I moved out to Australia in the mid-70s and then built the place at the edge of Binalong it became, well, something a little more than that."
Quite a little more, in fact.
While he's retaining a handful of cars that have a sentimental attachment, the rooms of cars and bikes will go under the hammer in an online auction on Sunday, July 26, starting at 10.30am.
His reason for closing the museum is straight-forward.
"I'm getting a bit older now and there's no one else immediately involved who would like to take it over and to be frank, I'd like to spend more time in the garden," he said.
"We live here at Binalong now and the cars and bikes all need to be maintained and driven so I thought the time was right. I gave up riding the motorcycles about 10 years ago."
The cars and motorcycles up for auction are diverse in their age and style but certain to attract widespread interest. Potential bidders must pre-register with Doningtons Auctions to participate.
The star car is a spectacular Pininfarina-designed Ferrari 365 GTC-4 built in 1972 in its original and unrestored condition. Only 41 right hand drive versions of this car were made and it is likely to sell for around half a million dollars. There is also another, low-kilometre Ferrari 550 Maranello, also painted in the factory's grey-silver, which is likely to fetch around $300,000.
Several Jaguars, a Daimler, an extraordinary boat-tailed MG Magnette in British racing green paintwork, an Armstrong-Siddeley, an oh-so-cool although unrestored Citroen Traction Light Fifteen from 1947, and a tiny but very collectible and affordable 1967 Fiat Bambino are among the car lots.
Motorcycle enthusiasts will be attracted to rarities such as a beautifully preserved 1934 Australian-delivered Harley-Davidson single-seater, a 1924 Harley Davidson with sidecar, and 1983 900cc Ducati Mike Hailwood replica.
The memorabilia from within the museum will go too, including old signs, lamps, books, catalogues, drums, tins, number plates, technical manuals, and even two conrods and a piston from a 27-litre Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, famed for powering the British Spitfire.
"There are many things collected over many years," Dr Saunders said.
"I've very much enjoyed people dropping by and talking cars and I dare say that won't finish because I'm closing the public museum.
"But there are other things to do so I hope whoever acquires them will enjoy them as much as I have."