Designed and built by the late Sir Len Southward, the world reknowned Southward Car Museum houses the southern hemispheres largest private car collection. The building also contains extensive conference and function facilities, a theatre (complete with operational pipe organ) and a cafe and restaurant, all set in six hectares of park-like grounds.
The museum itself is home to over 400 automobiles and various other exhibits including aircraft, bicycles, a range of vintage tools and other automobile memorabilia and even a vintage Fire Engine. The collection includes many famous makes and models of classic and vintage cars. Among the most popular are Marlene Dietrich’s 1934 Cadillac Town Cabriolet, a 1915 Stutz Indianapolis race car, a gull-winged Mercedes-Benz, a 1950 Cadillac “Gangster Special” that had belonged to gansgter Mickey Cohen and an 1895 Benz Velo imported to New Zealand in 1900.
Sir Len Southward and his wife Lady Vera Southward began collecting cars in 1956. The first of which was a Model T Ford for which Sir Len paid £40. Having achieved business success, Sir Len began to buy and restore old cars, constantly adding to his collection. After his retirement, Sir Len devoted much of his time to the car museum which was opened in December of 1979.