Cult classic Clan Crusader part of Washington exhibition Made on Wearside

Cult classic the Clan Crusader - the first car to be made on Wearside - is part of a new exhibition. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A cult classic sports car is among the vehicles on display in a new exhibition.

Made on Wearside, at the North East Land, Sea and Air Museum explains the history of car making in the area.

It includes the classic sports car the Clan Crusader - the first car to be made on Wearside - and a modern electric Nissan Leaf.

  • Video report by Julia Barthram

Only 300 Clan Crusaders were made, and the car is now considered a cult classic.

Made of fibreglass the cars don't rust and the museum has managed to find a well preserved model.

The display also includes a Nissan Bluebird, the first car to be made when the Japanese car manufacturer opened its plant in Washington.

The Bluebird has special significance for Ged Parker, from the Washington History Society. 

He worked on the Washington Development Corporation bid to attract Nissan to the town and remembers how it felt. 

"The impact was on the day it was announced and the region went absolutely wild." he said.  "The world's press descended on us and it was that sense that the North East had won.  It had come first".

Acquiring the vehicles has been a labour of love for museum curator, David Charles.  He scoured the internet to find some of the models.  Bluebird's became popular as rally cars over the years and now there are only a few of the cars surviving.  

Mr Charles said: "History is about selecting the right things at the right time.  A lot of people would say why've you got a Leaf? They're still building them.

"In 40 years time will you be able to get a Leaf?  This is an investment in the long term future and it tells the story of those people, the multiple people who've worked in the factory."

Another car to feature in the exhibition is a Micra, which was bought from a man in Stockton for just a few hundred pounds. 

"He couldn't believe his car was going in a museum" said Mr Charles.  " It's just an ordinary car and who saves the ordinary, we all save the extraordinary, not now we have this exhibition."


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