Do you remember your first motor car?
I recently visited the British Motor Museum at Gaydon, Warwickshire, home to the world’s largest collection of over 400 British Cars, from the early 1900s to the present day.
The first vehicles I viewed were four of the most iconic vehicles ever to be manufactured in Britain, the very first Series 1 Land Rover from 1948, the first Morris Mini Minor to roll off the production line in 1959, a 1967 E-Type Jaguar Series 1 Coupe and a Rolls Royce Silver Phantom from 2002. What a line-up of British Classic motor vehicles!
One of the first displays to attract my attention was John Carter’s Garage, styled on a 1930`s independent garage. The garage contained many original fixtures, fittings, and objects from the period. It was so authentic; I could almost smell the oil and petrol!
I would recommend visitors join one of the free guided tours which are led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides around the dedicated zones including Motorsport, Design and Concept, Jaguar, Land Rover, the Royal cars, Film and television and a motorsport revue.
Having owned a small sports car some years ago, I was particularly interested in the collection of British sports cars. What a delight to walk amongst such much-loved marques! Morgan, Lotus, Triumph, McLaren and Aston Martin. They were all there!
There were also many interactive exhibits, the touch screen panels allowing visitors to explore more detailed information about the motor manufacturers, advertising promotions and famous faces associated with the cars on show, such as Colin Chapman and Donald Healey. I was in motor heaven!
The Royal Collection included the first bespoke Royal Land Rover state review car and a 1971 Rover P5B, the personal property of HM the Queen, but on long-term loan to the Museum. A couple of royal treasures!
The film and television vehicles included the Land Rover Defender used in the opening sequence of the James Bond Skyfall movie, the Tomb Raider Defender, the Land Rover ‘Judge Dredd’ City Cab, Lady Penelope`s FAB 1 from the 2004 Thunderbirds movie and a replica of the DeLorean from Back to the Future 2.
Another couple of cars that drew my interest were the two Morris Mini Cooper S which won the Monte Carlo Rally of 1967. In their red racing livery with white tops, several headlight spots, and authentic rally stickers they looked wonderful.
At the Collections Centre, another 250 motor cars were on display. Visitors can view mechanics at work in the restoration workshops, giving an insight into how the Museum both stores and restores the vehicles in its collection. The Museum tries to rotate as many cars as possible into the main collection from its reserve collection’s treasure house.
The Museum Website is excellent, providing a clear, detailed, colourful, bright and easily accessible guide to everything you need to know about visiting the museum and what you will find when you get there. The site also includes conference facilities and a clean, smart restaurant /café serving food and drinks throughout the day.
There is also a gift shop with a wide choice of Motoring-related gift ideas. A percentage of every purchase supports the charitable work of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, to continue their fine work.
The British Motor Museum has one of the best car collections in the world, but it is much more than just a motor museum. From a comprehensive archive and picture library, motoring clubs, rallies, group visits, to weddings, corporate team building, and conference facilities, there is a lot more to be discovered.
Whether visiting as an individual, couple, family, school or other organisation, the museum is well equipped to provide for the needs and interests of everyone, being fully inclusive. The Museum has hundreds of specialist motoring events throughout the year, so there is sure to be something to satisfy the interests of `petrol head` to `curious observer, throughout the year!
I had an enjoyable day out and would fully recommend a trip to the British Motor Museum, for a fun filled and educational day out.
British Motor Museum,
Banbury Road, Gaydon,
Warwickshire, CV35 0BJ
The Travel Locker
Jim Davis is a retired Northamptonshire secondary school teacher. Having worked as a freelance journalist for many years, writing about the local Northamptonshire music scene and more recently the fortunes of Daventry Town FC, since his retirement, he now writes a travel blog.