Starting the collection in 2000, Bob picked up some wooden 4-gallon fuel can crates dating from the 1920's, with the thought of using them to store car parts, however after going to visit a collection of Memorabilia in Brisbane Australia, Bob, with a little encouragement from Georgie, decided to start their own collection.
The wooden boxes progressed to oil, fuel, and additive tins in all shapes and sizes, and then moved on to Sternol and Big Tree oil bottles, (used on petrol station forecourts to store oil, and came in pint & quart bottles). Enamel and tin signs of all sorts of automotive brands also started finding new homes in the Wilton's Museum.
By now, the collection of memorabilia was bordering on obsession, and Bob and Georgie began traveling to various swap meets in NZ, including Rotorua, McLean's Island in Christchurch, Manfield, Levin, Palmerston North and Kumeu, as well as going further afield to Australia, and taking in the Bendigo and Ballarat swap meets, scouring them for more goodies to bring back home.
Bob reports that probably the most collectable gasoline memorabilia from NZ is that of the now defunct Europa, which was then owned by the Todd Family from Porirua.
Sitting in pride of place is a 1950's Avery-Hardoll Petrol Bowser, restored and wearing Caltex livery, while several more are sitting in the wings either restored or in their original condition awaiting restoration. These include a super-rare 1920's Shell Mex, a 1930's Palometer, a, Gilbarco, and others of varying styles and ages. To complete the range of early service station equipment are several 'oil boys' or high boys, (which were used as storage for oil prior to being put in the glass bottles on the forecourt), most of these have been restored, and look as good as they must have done when they were still in use.
With such an impressive range of automotive memorabilia, as well as a constantly changing display of cars, Gasoline Heaven is certainly a destination to head for when in the lower North Island, and we should be happy that so much neat old stuff is now available for everyone to see, rather than just being locked in a shed, for only a select number of people to enjoy.
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