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Rare FJ Holden finds a home in Canberra

7 JUNE 2004

A rare unrestored FJ Holden - which sat in a garage for years after its owner was startled by her first encounter with traffic lights - has been acquired by the National Museum of Australia.

The car came to the Canberra museum after a nationwide search for an FJ with a known history - and in original condition - no easy task given the car's cult status among restorers! The search ended in neighbouring Queanbeyan.

The pale blue 1955 FJ has travelled just 53,000 miles and is exceptionally well maintained. The car still has the original whitewall tyres, red leather interior, and the engine bay features the original wiring loom and standard six-volt electrical battery.

'This car tells a great story about the birth of an Australian icon, about transport and the development of suburbs,' said curator Denis Shephard.

'It's first owner, Mrs Goodall, drove the car between Tharwa and nearby Queanbeyan for two decades, until she eventually came across newly installed traffic lights. Mrs Goodall reportedly found the flashing lights too confusing, drove home, cancelled her licence and left the car in the garage.'

In 1980 the car was sold to Queanbeyan mechanic Albert Neuss, who performed the first oil change on the vehicle in 1957 and remembers seeing the brand new car as an excited teenager outside the Tharwa store.

'It's a nice old car - you don't often see them in such good condition unless they've been restored,' Mr Neuss said. 'I rarely drove it because I wanted to keep the miles down. I'm glad to know it's with the Museum rather than sitting in my shed where noone could see it.'

The National Museum bought the FJ from Mr Neuss earlier this year, after launching a national search last October, when the Museum hosted 50th birthday celebrations for the iconic vehicle.

The FJ has been assessed at the National Museum's Mitchell warehouse and goes on show for the first time this weekend, from 12-14 June in the Museum's Hall.

The conservators' assessment revealed most of the car is in original condition, with the exception of a partial paint respray and indicators which were added years ago. The car also has its original purchase paperwork, handbook and manuals.

The FJ is the latest addition to the National Museum's extensive historic car collection, which includes Sir Robert Menzies' Bentley, adventurer Francis Birtles' Bean Car, a Crossley Laundaulette used in the 1927 Royal Tour and a buffalo catcher from the NT.

For images, interviews or more information please contact Leanda Coleman on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or l.coleman@nma.gov.au