Jan 28 2013

Sharjah’s Classic Car Museum reopens with new features

Monday, Jan 28, 2013


The premises have gone in for a spot of renovation and added new features, but the exhibits within retain their pristine vintage feel. And that is just how it should be.

The Sharjah Classic Cars Museum has reopened its doors and put up on display more than 80 models of various makes and vintages across five sections based on the decade they rolled out of their production line.

There is, of course, pride of place for Ford’s Model T, the first vehicle to be mass produced and thus set in motion processes the automotive industry values to this day. There are also the obligatory Rolls and Bentley and ‘69 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman, one of only 2,677 units to be made and a cynosure among the vaunted exhibits at the Museum.

Meticulous research preceded the opening to ensure only those models that had a pedigree to honk about would make it to the curate’s list. This way, the curators removed some of the models that were there earlier in the Museum’s earlier avatar.

Models dating from 1915 to 1939 make up the first section, then Zone 2 takes visitors through the glory years of Detroit between 1940 to 1959 with exhibits such as the Cadillac Fleetwood, Chevrolet Bel Air and a Studebaker Woody. This was when tailfins made an appearance, enjoyed their time under the sun and then disappeared into motoring lore.

At the 1960s to late 1980s cluster, one can pay homage to the VW Beetle, hugely popular and a “star” in its own right in many a Hollywood movie. (Care to watch a re-run of the ‘The Love Bug’ anyone?)

If it is the ‘60s, there is also a place for muscle cars and one is duly offered up through the Ford Mustang.

Step into the fourth cluster and one gets to get a first hand look at how some of the enduring models that populate local roads have evolved. There is a Nissan Patrol version and a Land Rover, plus taxis of a certain vintage that were in service in the UAE. Not to be left out, there are two bikes and five bicycles also among the exhibits.

“The aim was to have on display models that have clearly stood the test of time and truly representative of the automobile’s evolution,” said an official with the Museum. “It meant some of the exhibits that were there earlier had to be pulled out and only these 85 select models would be on show.”

It helped that the Museum itself had to go through a renovation programme, which offered curators the time and space to narrow down their choices. According to Manal Ataya, Director-General of Sharjah Museum Department, the aim of the refurbishment was to “allow us to re-evaluate the previous design and interpretation and improve it significantly.”

This meant there are displays of ads harking back to a past when driving a car was meant to translate into a sense of adventure and freedom. The ads, some in monochrome hues, also relate to a time when car ownership was starting to be not just the preserve of the rich. Those ads and the messages they carry resonate even now and provide a distinctive identity of their own to the Museum.

By Manoj NAir Associate Editor

Gulf News 2013. All rights reserved.

© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.

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