Classic cars up for auction as collection closes doors
IT'S enough to make any car-lover weep.
While those with money may be weeping tears of joy at the chance of a new purchase, for most, the closure of Gosford Classic Cars - the biggest, most extensive collection of privately owned classic and exotic vehicles in the Southern Hemisphere, is a huge loss.
For Central Coast residents and visitors alike, it had become a car mecca, with two and three generations of families visiting together to share their passion, and seniors volunteering their time and knowledge at the display.
Malcolm Turnbull even celebrated his 62nd birthday there with about 500 guests in October 2016.
Now, under a big red "CLOSED" banner, the business's website reads: "Due to an ongoing and unresolved dispute with the ATO, it is with great sadness and disappointment that today we announce Gosford Classic Car Museum has closed and all cars will be auctioned on the 6th & 7th April."
"We'd like to thank the Central Coast community for their support."
It comes less than a year after the closure of Cameron Park's Lost in the '50s American car museum and, according to Lloyds Classic Car Auctions "most cars (are) completely unreserved and all starting at $1".
The West Gosford premises is also on the market. Rising from an abandoned Bunnings warehouse bought in 2015 for about $13 million and renovated to the tune of several million more, Gosford Classic Car Museum, as it was originally known, was the vision of long-time car enthusiast and salesman Tony Denny.
Opening in May 2016, it covered 11,000sqm, at its height showcasing about 400 classic and vintage cars and motorcycles of all makes, models and ages worth about $70 million.
Marques included Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Bentley, Maserati, Porsche, Rolls Royce, Land Rover, Chrysler, Ford and Holden, as well as brands from communist countries.
With about 10,000 visitors making their way through the museum each month, how could this have gone so terribly wrong in just three years?
According to the business's media statement, it was established to be "Australia's biggest classic car dealership, creating a point of interest for people on the Central Coast, a sense of pride among the local community, stimulation of the local economy and many jobs". However, despite external advice to the contrary, it states its part-museum, part-dealership operation led to the ATO deeming it a "dual-purpose venture" and un-entitled to dealership tax exemptions with sales dwindling to as little as five vehicles per month, making the business unsustainable.
As Mr Denny said just last year: "I wanted a museum to share my passion with everyone. But there still is an investment decision".
While unable to speak on specific cases, an ATO representative stated: "The payment of luxury car tax (LCT) is not deferred if you buy a luxury car and use it for a purpose other than trading stock. Similarly, LCT is still payable if you are a museum and the luxury car is not solely used for public display".
The closure means the loss of more than 40 current jobs, and the non-development of a seven-storey Central Coast Council-approved eco-friendly building to be used for auto-related businesses, and expected to create about 200 jobs.
Gosford Classic Cars manager Jason Fischer described it as "a substantial economic loss for the region and a missed opportunity".
Central Coast Tourism director of industry services Russell Mills said it was always unfortunate when an attraction like the car museum ceased operation, because every destination needed to provide visitors with as wide a range of options as possible.
Former Formula One World Champion and auction ambassador Alan Jones is one of the collection's biggest fans.
If you are one of the lucky few with the dollars to grab a high-priced bargain - multiple cars are expected to reach seven figures - check out the auction listing at https://gosfordclassiccars.com.au/ or see the auction site at lloyds auctions.com.au.
Seniors newspapers received no response from Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks for comment.