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British Sporting Heritage

By Jarah Weinreich

The National Automobile Museum of Tasmania's feature floor will be hosting an exceptional display of British sporting motorcars over the next three months. British Sporting Heritage captures the history, rivalry, glamour and excitement of an era in which Britain led the world in sports motoring design and manufacture.

At the centre of the display is a magnificent 1937 SS100 Jaguar. Sir William Lyons and his business partner William Walmsley founded the Swallow Sidecar Company in Blackpool in 1922. Following a move to Coventry, the company was effectively reinvented. In 1934 SS Cars Limited was registered and the company's reputation as a manufacturer of fine sporting machines was cemented with the 1936 - 1940 SS100 Jaguars. After the Second World War, the name was changed once more to Jaguar Cars Limited. Arguably one of the most desirable vehicles ever made, the SS100 is a fitting centrepiece.

Also featured is a superb 1966 Triumph TR4A. Perhaps the quintessential post-war British sports cars, the Triumph TR range represented excellent value and helped with the country's export drive, with the majority having been sold in North America.

Britain's automotive heritage is scattered with lost marques. Often, these manufacturers were victims of harsh economic circumstances. This was the case of Peerless Cars Limited, a small company that manufactured fibreglass-bodied sports cars between 1957 and 1960. Only 290 Peerless vehicles were ever built. The 1959 Peerless GT featured in the display, having been originally exhibited at the 1959 Melbourne Motor Show, is a rare survivor.

The Lotus Cortina is an instantly identifiable symbol of Britain's circuit racing victories. The cars, identified by cream paint and green side stripes, were a common sight in touring car racing throughout the 1960s. The project came about as Ford sought a more sporting image, and Lotus required access to the mass market. Today, Lotus Cortinas are highly sought after.

Riley Motors of Coventry began as a bicycle manufacturer in 1896. Progression to the motorcar industry followed, and Riley soon acquired a reputation for finely engineered sports cars. The 1937 Riley Lynx on display is a beautiful representation of the aptitude of this forgotten marque.

One of very few family-owned manufacturers to have survived the twentieth century, Morgan remains an icon of British sporting motorcars. The Morgan Motor Co. still produces cars in small numbers, and has always inspired a loyal following. The 1954 Morgan Plus 4 featured in the display is a beautifully presented example in original condition.

One-off designs or "specials" have always been a fascinating part of Britain's sporting heritage. Our special is the fabulous Jaguar 3.8 Litre "Rapide". Built on a Jaguar MK. VII chassis and powered by Jaguar's 3.8 Litre MK. IX engine, the aluminium coachwork was hand-built over a timber frame. The result is a truly unique vehicle, which effortlessly combines the classic styling of the 1936 Lagonda Rapide with the Jaguar running gear.

A unique motorcycle "special" is also featured; the beautifully presented 1929 Excelsior was built in the spirit of the racing motorcycles of the era.

Triumph developed its legendary GP model after leftover stocks of cylinder barrels from auxiliary generator units built during the war were used to develop high performance engines. The GP famously won the 1946 Manx Grand Prix ahead of the Manx Norton, prompting Triumph to produce the bike in limited numbers. One man's fascination with the model led to the beautifully presented GP replica on display. A fully restored Triumph Trident is also featured.

The BSA Company produced many iconic sporting motorcycles, most notably the Rocket Gold Star and the Gold Star. Both models are on display.

The National Automobile Museum of Tasmania's British Sporting Heritage represents a unique and diverse look at a collection of truly outstanding and unique cars and motorcycles, and is not to be missed.

For further details contact Phil Costello (03) 6334 8888