MHWA Frequently Asked Questions & Links

  LINKS appear at the end of the FAQ section

Q: What is Motoring Historians WA’s purpose?’

A: To source, collect, copy, digitise, store and make available images and information from Perth’s automotive past; as well as to bring about new publications recreating our motoring past in print and electronic formats.

Q: Are there any other societies or associations archiving motoring images in Perth or WA?

A: Apart from whatever individual car clubs might be doing, Battye Library (by legislation) has a similar role BUT only archives a small number of selected images and only processes. This approach is far too specific and narrow for MHWA which has decided to archive all potentially useful historic motoring images, to ensure we record motoring event for which we understand little or no other visual records exist.

Q: How professional and dedicated is MHWA in preserving these ‘other’ images and information of yesteryear?

A: We have knowledge of at least 30,000 images needing our immediate attention, plus there is a whole range of historic publications (totalling some 50,000 pages of old print material) in need of preservation and digitisation. We have consulted with Acting Director of Battye Library and a leading photographic archival firm in Perth. Given funding, MHWA would use current technology, plus storage systems and computer programmes to process items to currently accepted industry standards. With the exception of Battye Library’s work, we are the ONLY automotive-related group here in Perth pursuing the gathering and preserving of our fast-diminishing and irreplaceable motoring archives.

Q: What material is MHWA looking for?

A: Old photos, sales records, film, letters, local publications etc that have any relevance to our state's motoring history.

Q: I've got some old photos/documents/film but I don't know whether they will be of any interest.

A: Don't throw them away! Some of the smallest items can give the biggest clues in solving mysteries from our motoring past. Sometimes an article you have may provide a missing piece to a puzzle or provide concrete evidence about something. Our group has leading experts in several fields and will be able to help work out the historical value and relevance of your items.

Q: How should I give MHWA items that may be of interest?

A: Simply email or telephone any of the Committee members and they will assist you to make the process as easy as possible. Alternatively, our group will be represented at several car events during the year - see the Calendar page for details.

Q: Can MHWA members help me identify information?

A: Yes, our group is keen and knowledgeable. Members are often asked to identify cars or car events in old photos, which is often useful in working out dates they were taken. Between us we have a wealth of knowledge, reference material and contacts.

Q: How is membership of MHWA achieved?

A: By invitation - these people have been seen to be very active in archiving, researching, collecting or publishing items of historic significance to Perth and WA motoring. Publishing may take the form of the written word in magazines or books, by film or video or on recognized websites. On written application to join, the Committee will assess the suitability of the applicant.

Q: Where does funding come from to pursue this activity?

A: Apart from the voluntary effort, we hope major funding will come from members of the Perth motor trade and other sources, and will be actively pursuing this. The Council of Motoring Clubs of WA has generously provided some funding from its defunct motorsport section. As the general public becomes aware of our function and purpose, we hope funding will come from it too, particularly through deceased estates.

Q: What sort of funding is needed and how would it be managed?

A: MHWA needs finance for continuous progress to identify, preserve and publish projects so as to bring them to consumable or marketable fruition. We should be able to sponsor publication of new print and electronic media, thus build up a developing ‘literature’ of the history of WA motoring (city and country). Ideally, MHWA needs to be finance research projects such as university students wanting to build aspects of the history and technology of the motor car as it applied to the scene in Perth into their studies. 

Q: What about availability of images and information to researchers, historians, publishers and the general public?

A: Use of images and information is free to our members for research and publication needs. Where it was feasible and manageable, we intend that the images be released at reasonable cost to consumers - although we do not intend establishing an on-line lending library as such at this stage.

Q: What about marketing of images and information to researchers, historians, publishers and the general public?

A: Similarly, we could provide images and information to serious collectors, the motor trade, car clubs or to professional image libraries in print form, on microfilm and/or DVDs for reasonable cost. Some items would be marketed with the aim of raising funds to carry on with our other projects.

Q: What about copyright issues?

A: Not withstanding obligations to current Australian Copyright Laws, we obtain a Waiver of Copyright from those who offer their collection of images on the understanding that they give MHWA the right to use them as we see necessary in future publications or other public releases.  And, that they have no recall on the society for money or recognition in the future.  As a courtesy, we would ensure original sources of the images were publicised, and for any project undertaken in association with the Battye Library we will come to a suitable copyright agreement.

Q: What is the society’s official and legal status?

A: We incorporated in October 2005 as a not-for-profit body with the WA Department of Consumer and Income Employment Protection (DOCEP) and have an ABN number.  This means any profit generated by our activities can be used for our future projects; and, that we can accept funding from outside sources for our overall historic preservation activities.

Q: Does MHWA pay tax?  What about our personal taxation if we give it items?

A: Income tax does not apply to not-for-profit bodies operating for the common benefit of their members. Thus, MHWA is registered as a charitable organisation within the broad meaning of the legislation;

Q: What about donations of physical motoring items?

A: Unless material items have a really unique connection to Perth motoring past, MHWA generally does not accept motoring artefacts, for it is not our intention to develop a museum or repository of man-made items. We do ask that you to donate old family (and motor industry) photos to ensure their preservation. Books and motoring journals donated, will be assessed for their usefulness - for we may decide to copy, digitise and put them onto DVD, plus put originals in the Battye Library’s collection or, the books may be passed on to the appropriate motoring club (of the 100 collector car clubs in Perth). 

Q: What happens if we bequeath MHWA financial resources?

A: Wonderful... please do!!!  MHWA members themselves are not permitted by State law to benefit from such bequests in any financial way (unless they are contracted for projects for specific archival or similar purposes). Thus, funding will allow the society to continue with its invaluable work preserving archives. When people offer monetary support to MHWA it can be included in their personal taxation returns as a tax deduction; or, as part of the normal assessment carried out on a deceased estate.

Q: What about us placing Codicils on Wills to ensure motoring memorabilia is not destroyed?

A: PLEASE do put a Codicil on your family Wills! Our policy is that surviving family has the last right of refusal (if it decides to keep its historic photos); and, in the event of the family agreeing to donate the material to MHWA, then a Codicil can give an Executor a directive to pass the photos and other items on to MHWA.

Q: Can you help with assessing a deceased family members’ motoring memorabilia?

A: Yes, we have started doing so.  It can be an emotional time for the family - BUT we have found that sitting with two of MHWAs executives is a most purposeful form of closure for the family and helps it decide what would best be done with its motoring items, thus ensuring survival of the images.  Even if the family only allows MHWA to copy the images, it can retain the originals if it desires.  As a serious and active researcher, MHWA’s President A John Parker estimates that we have only 2-3 per cent remaining today of the hundreds of tonnes of archival material the 851 new car dealerships generated in their time. WHATEVER, PLEASE DON’T JUST THROW OLD PHOTOS OF ANY SORT OUT!

Q: Does MHWA have a Privacy Policy?

A: Yes, collections coming in to us would generally be named after a donating family eg: “The Smithers Collection”, unless the donating family requests otherwise. Apart from using the surname to assign credit for the collection in future motoring displays or publications, there would not be any need to release other details of donors.  Such data is already available, anyway, in the ‘public domain’ - in publications such as Perth telephone books and Electoral Rolls.

Q: Where has most of the huge volume of old motor company records gone?

A: Burswood's Crown Casino is built on the old Burswood Rubbish Tip and the western end of Lake Monger was also one of Perth’s major rubbish tips - both have been filled with many truckloads of company records in the last 100 years! Shamefully, much of our motoring heritage lies entombed underground in them. Some remains in private hands - do you have any?

Q: Do you have connections with motoring bodies like the WA Motor Trade Association, RAC, etc?

A: We have contact with all the major motoring bodies and anticipate that they understand what MHWA offers our motoring heritage through its “Save our Automotive Archives” archival activity and plans.

More questions? Contact anyone on the Committee



Links to other World Repositories of Automotive History and similar


        York Motor Museum -

        National Motor Museum -

        Motor Museum of WA - 

        Terry Walker's website -

        Western Australian Racing Museum (WARM) - 

        Automotive Events Management -

        The Pitstop Bookshop -


           National Motor Museum at Beaulieu homepage -

The Library of Motoring -
The National Motor Museum Trust helps collect and preserve a large collection of motor vehicle memorabilia and provides full facilities to the motoring enthusiast.
  The picture librarian is Jon Day -  who replied to A John Parker in 2004, “Pictures are available for use in books and other publications.  There is, however, a reproduction fee of Sterling £40 per image and they can be supplied digitally via email.”


            - FRANCE - National library -‑europe.htm

            - FRANCE - Access to  library catalogues and departmental archives of vehicles (in French) -



            Detroit Public Library - home page -

                - Curator and Manager, Mark Patrick -

             - National Automotive History Collection -

           Society of Automotive Historians of America - Editor SAHA journal -

         Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot Awards (best books of year)

If you know of any similar groups to MHWA around the world, please let us know.