AUTO GOLD

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE NSW CENTRAL COAST? NOW ITS ATTRACTIONS INCLUDE THIS AMAZING, GLOBALLY SIGNIFICANT, CAR MUSEUM

DAVID BERTHON MARK BEAN

Aformer hardware warehouse at West Gosford on the NSW Central Coast may seem an unlikely location to house some of the world’s most exotic collector cars.

However, in just 12 months the 18,000-sq metre facility has been totally transformed into Australia’s largest car museum and now ranks within the top five car museums in the world.

An impressive spread of over 450 cars is on display representing a $70 million investment while the building and its renovation have added another $15 million.

Owner Tony Denny, who purchased his first classic car, a 1955 Ford Zephyr, in his 20s, says the opening of the world-class museum is the highlight of his life.

Importantly, while many other car museums around the world struggle with

falling attendances Denny has established his latest automotive venture on a very different business model.

As he says, “This is a car museum with a difference with most of the cars on display available for sale.”

However, with many carrying seven figure valuations one suspects he won’t be using Bunnings’ marketing adage of ‘lowest prices are just the beginning’.

“We intend to turn over around 30 cars a month, which apart from helping to cover overheads will keep the collection somewhat fresh,” he said.

“With around 180 new collector cars every six months it will also attract return visitors,” he added.

Already proving a real draw card are the 35 highlydesirable Ferraris on display which make up around 30 per cent of the value of the museum collection.

The collection is headed by a rare 2014 La Ferrari, Ferrari’s 6.2-litre V12 petrol/ electric hybrid supercar which the museum values at $5 million. Other rare models from the prancing horse stable include a 2004 Enzo and stunning examples of their classic F40 and F50 supercars – the four top shelf Ferrari’s alone valued at around $10 million dollars.

But it’s just not about supercars, Denny wanted to make the collection as diverse as possible with something for everyone. Holden is one of his favourites, well represented with nearly every model spanning the thirty year period from 1948, and balanced by a great mix of Fords.

There’s a wide range of Jaguars, MGs Bentleys,

“THE FERRARIS ON DISPLAY MAKE UP AROUND 30 PER CENT OF THE VALUE OF THE MUSEUM COLLECTION”

1950 TATRAPLAN T-600

Porsches, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce plus a mix of American favourites including Chevy Corvettes, Cadillacs and Packards. And there’s a good spread of motorcycles.

Adding a different flavour, as the centrepiece of the collection, is Rosco McGlashan’s 1993 jet-powered Invader 111 which took the Land Speed Record to 1026km/h in 1996.

Also included is a fascinating mix of cars from the Eastern Bloc countries, including a stretched Russian-built Zil Limousine, previously used by the Politburo of the Communist Party.

For the most part however, the collection has been sourced within Australia, the current collection whittled down from several thousand purchases over the last 18 months.

The museum at Stockyard Place, West Gosford, is open Wednesday to Sunday (Mon/ Tues by appointment).

Admission is $20 for adults, ($15 for car club members).

Kids 12 and under plus concession holders are $12.00. A family of four (2 adults and 2 kids) is $55.00 (kids under four – free).

1971 FORD FALCON GT-HO PHASE 111

THE STAND-OUT muscle car among the Aussie big-bore machines is this XY GT-HO Phase 111 Falcon, one of just 300 produced from May to November 1971. Based on the XY GT the race-bred GT-HO’s featured a beefier rear antisway bar, larger Holley carby, a lumpier camshaft, free flowing intake manifold and different lifters and valves.

This mint example is one of just nine XY GTs painted in Black Onyx. Built especially for the 1971 Sydney Motor Show it came with factory options including sunroof, LH-door mirror and 8-track cartridge player.

The 5.8-litre 285kW V8 GT-HO Phase 111 with an original sticker price of $5302 could sprint to 100km/hour in just 6.5-seconds. Bathurst legend Allan Moffat piloted one to victory in the 1971 Bathurst 500 which Ford dominated, with GT-HOs also finishing 2nd, 3rd. 5th and 6th.

Superbly restored the black livery gives this example a premium appearance.

GOSFORD Classic Car Museum owner Tony Denny has had a keen interest in classic cars for around 35 years but until now has not had the time to devote to his passion. After growing up in North Sydney he left Australia in 1990 in his late 20s to chase his business dream.

Spending two years in the US before moving to Europe to set up AAA Automotive based in Prague, he would eventually head up the largest used car network in Europe.

After selling all but 23 per cent of AAA Automotive for around $330 million dollars Denny decided to return to Australia early in 2015 and invest in his passion. And it’s a sizeable investment with around $70 million in cars and $15 million in the museum.

The somewhat reserved and affable 53 year-old views cars as a work of art. As he says “Some people love art, statues and pottery. I just love cars.” But one suspects Denny does not let his heart rule his head. As he says, “Behind every car is an investment decision.”

And with the new museum complex employing 21 staff it is obvious it’s a very well thought out business venture taking advantage of tax concessions applicable to museum collections.

Choosing the Central Coast to invest in his passion was easy according to Denny – “I’ve had a holiday home in the area for 20 years and spent six weeks here each Christmas. “I love the relaxed lifestyle of the Central Coast and believe the area has huge potential. In addition to creating the museum I’m now developing 450 apartments in the area so I’m very involved in the local community.”