Since 1993, the Melbourne Tank Museum in Melbourne’s outer southeastern suburb of Narre Warren has had on public display a wide range of military vehicles and equipment from the earliest times to the present day. While the emphasis of the collection is overwhelmingly on Australian and Commonwealth subjects, a few “outsiders” have snuck in.
The owner of the museum, John Belfield, had been collecting and restoring vehicles and equipment for a long time before the Museum opened its doors to the public. A lifetime in fact.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end (or so they say) and the owner decided that he could not carry on operating the Museum in its current form as a family operation. Alternatives to closing such as selling or leasing the Museum as a going concern in situ or selling the collection as a whole locally were all considered, but to no avail.
And so the decision was taken to auction the contents and close the public museum. John Belfield will carry on as he has – collecting and restoring, but on a private basis. He now has, after all, an empty display building to fill!! As we understand it, there’s a considerable “stash” out the back to carry on with!
The auction was set for Sunday 23 April 2006 on site, with the collection open for inspection on the preceding Friday and Saturday.
Although overseas interest was considerable, local museums managed to acquire a few select items, and there was strong interest from across “the dutch” by our Kiwi cousins, who acquired a number of significant pieces.
AMMS members Leife Hulbert and Peter Hartup decided to grab what might prove to be the last opportunity to get a good look at a remarkable collection before it disappears, possibly out of the country.
Below we’ve compiled a list of what was auctioned and the winning bids sourced from the auctioneers, Bonhams & Goodman.
Separate Walkaround pages for specific vehicles have been provided elsewhere on the site, and are linked from the items listed below.
Here are some overall shots of the venue to give an idea of the extent of the collection on display:
Listing of Items on Offer Grouped by Type