Charlie started his collection with four Studebakers. Today, his Auto Museum in Arthur’s Seat is a visual history of some of car manufacturing’s most rare and iconic models. Charlie’s a man of few words, but his yard filled with relics speaks volumes of his past. His collection includes antique furniture and memorabilia, models of planes and boats, and a working Pianola.
Charles Schwerkolt: I’m Charles. I’m 81 and the owner of Charlie’s Arthurs Seat Auto Museum. I’m the father of ex-V8 Supercar Dick Johnson Racing Team member Charlie Schwerkolt. I opened this museum in 1988. I moved from Mt. Waverley to an Upper Beaconsfield property on 10 acres, then my ex-wife wanted to play golf all the time. I wasn’t so into it. She wanted a tearoom and I wanted a car museum so we moved to Arthur’s Seat and tried both.
Set on two and a half acres of land, the two large sheds contain over fifty classic, vintage and rare vehicles as well as antiques, movie set pieces, model cars, planes and boats, plus car parts and even scooters. I collected Matchbox cars when I was a kid, and always had a passion. Dad had two or three cars, so I got into it that way.
I was 15 years old when I drove dad’s car and trucks, but my first car was a Hudson – a pale blue 1954 Super Wasp. My collection is different, always different. [Editor’s Note: this includes his dad’s bottle merchant truck, a rare bus from a Philippine circus, Hollywood props, an AC Acedes Invalid tricycle and a four door 1990 model Avanti believed to be the only one in Australia – and more! Some cars are even rebuilt, converted or restored by him.]
I borrowed cars to add [to my collection] – up to 20 odd initially. I bought one or two cars a year for 26 years. I don’t sell many anymore, and I will 100% will say no to some. My favourite in the collection is the Hudson – it’s a step-down. Good for Daytona and motor racing. The used six-cylinder killed all the V8s back in the day.
In my opinion the best period for car manufacturing was the ‘50s and ‘60s in America. I like cars because it beats walking. It’s also a male thing, individuality and expression – but you don’t make money with museums.
The tea rooms here!
I’m here 24 hours.
Best Road Trip
Italy – St Moritz
Dream Road Trip
Gnumden in Switzerland – and I’d drive a 300C Chrysler, 2006.
Charlie’s Auto Museum: 175 Purves Road, Arthurs Seat, Victoria.