THE STORY OF THE MARKHAM CAR COLLECTION
Percy Markham, who lived in Perth, Western Australia, was a passionate veteran and vintage car collector and one of Australia's foremost antique car collectors. To display his car collection to the public, he and his family opened an Antique Auto Museum in 1965, in Wembley, Western Australia. The Markham collection originally included an 1843 horse-drawn landau, a number of motorcycles dating from 1904, and around 40 cars. These were initially displayed by Percy Markham in the Antique Auto Museum, which he owned; its importance is demonstrated by being the only museum in Australia mentioned in the publication: The World’s Motor Museums (Nicholson, 1970).
In 1967, Percy Markham offered ‘22 beautifully restored’ cars from his collection to the Western Australian Museum. An agreement between the museum and Percy Markham was made in 1969 under which the museum was able to purchase the collection at a notional price, paying in instalments and without any interest. In addition, the family donated an amount of money and gifted several motorcycles to the museum.
The Markham car collection was on display from November 1971, in the WA Museum. It illustrated the development of the motor car and was the first comprehensive collection of veteran and vintage cars exhibited in a state museum in Australia.
In the late 1980s, the WA Museum elected to auction ten vintage and luxury cars from the collection. Some argued that the vehicles have no real association with WA culture or history and were not ‘native’ to the state. The action generated a lot of negative publicity and the public, especially members of different motoring communities, found the museum’s decision questionable. Petitions were signed, and the motoring community organised a protest car rally along St. Georges Terrace, Perth, against the ‘verdict’. The WA Museum did not change its decision, and the auctioning of the ten cars from the collection caused significant conflict between the Western Australian motoring community and the Museum.
The only one of the ten auctioned Markham cars that remained in the State was the 1898 Star Vis-á-Vis. This car had participated in the London-Brighton Rally in 1938 and is one of the oldest existing vehicles in Western Australia. It is currently displayed at the Motor Museum of Western Australia on loan from the WA Museum.
The virtual panorama tour 'The story of the Markham car collection' digitally showcases Percy Markham's world-class veteran and vintage cars lost to the motoring community and the people of Western Australia in 1990. This tour makes this collection visually accessible, thereby in a visual sense fulfilling Percy Markham’s wish to leave a legacy of antique car history for Western Australians. It commemorates Percy Markham, and his never-to-be-forgotten heritage.