British Motor Museum
Anyone who reads my blog or follows me on social media channels will know I'm a petrol head. I've done a number of posts of my dream cars and also some of the amazing things like the Indy 500. In the heart of the UK is Motoring history. Lots of the historical car manufacturing took place here, and the likes of Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin have their modern day bases here. Also situated here is the British Motor Museum.
The British Motor Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of historic British Cars; it boasts nearly 300 cars in its collection which span the classic, vintage and veteran eras.
The Museum opened in 1993 as the amalgamation of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust’s preserved car collection. It was the Trust’s mission to keep the memory of the British motor industry alive and to tell its story to all, starting from the beginning of the 20th Century to present day.
The Main Hall
As you walk into the vast main hall you catch glimpses of so many iconic cars. Jaguars, Rovers, MGs, Austins, Range Rovers, Land Rovers, McLarens and the rest. You get a sense that you're looking at so much history! Of course there are some really iconic cars here like the Mini. I'm of course not talking about the Mini that we traditionally see on the roads now but the proper classic Mini designed by Alec Issigonis.
A lot of the car manufactures (including Rover and Jaguar) all started as Bicycle and MotorBike manufactures. The museum takes you through that history to the point of the modern day cars. You have the journey from the cars of the early 1900's through the boom of the 60/70's and then partially into the decline of the British Motor industry of the 90's and the 2000's when Rover went bust.
Every car in the hall was made in the UK and with each car there is a history to why this car was important to British Car manufacturing. Be that the "first" car off the production line or something because of the technology involved or in the case of some of the sports cars that they took a famous victory.
I've never been a massive classic car fan. If you've read my other motoring posts you'll see most of the cars that I would go for are more modern cars. However as a true petrol head you can't not admire some of the cars in the hall and your eye's are drawn to them.
One of the first cars that I was draw too was the Jaguar Group C sports car from the late 80's. This car was an iconic LeMans 24 hour race winner and in the Silk Cut sponsored livery stood out a mile among the normal road cars. This car just says "LeMans" to me - with the large rear wing, early and primitive aerodynamics, big fat tyres you can just hear it screaming down the mulsanne straight.
Another Jaguar to catch the eye is the D type Jaguar in British Racing Green that was a LeMans racer some 30 years earlier in the mid 50's. It's such a classic and beautifully stylish car. I was lucky to drive one of these some 20 years ago as a leaving gift from an old employer and I can say it was as fun to drive as it looked!
Around the hall
In one part of the main hall there are some really interesting boards about the history of the UK car market. Where and how it started, the developments in the technology, the changes in the brands, and then how the decline of the brands in the 1990's and 2000's. It gives you a real flavour of why and how there are so many variants of different cars in the hall.
In the middle of the hall there is a tribute to the Range Rover and Land Rover vehicles. It's hard to ignore how much these vehicles have been seen around the world in various different guises. From the converted Range Rover that was used by the Royal Family, through to the Land Rover adapted to run on caterpillar tracks through to the very first Range Rover that was the first off the line that now looks so old!
As you move to the far side of the hall you are met with various vehicles with motor sport history. From a Mini used by Paddy Hopkirk to win the Monte Carlo rally. When you know the size of the cars now it looks so fragile! Also there is an early March which was used by Jackie Stewart in Formula 1. This isn't the only F1 car in the building with a more modern Jaguar F1 car upstairs. Also here is the stunning Bentley Le Mans car, and an early Formula 3 car that was used by Nigel Mansell in his early days in the sport.
Other exhibitions in the main hall
Above the main space on a mezzanine level is a space that the Museum uses for different displays. In the time that we went it was Jaguar E types. Now as classic cars go - this is about as "Classic" as you can get. Was great to see all the different variants (along with some D types) and how the design changed over a few years. There were some very beautiful examples!
Also in a few other parts to the main building there are some boards about the history of the site and its importance as an airbase. There is also a few mock ups of Garages of old times and a cinema that's showing movies about the history of the car. Finally of course there is a gift shop! (And frankly who doesn't love one of those!)
The other building!
The British Motor Museum isn't just one building - oh no. It's two! Across from the main building is a building holding even more cars! Down stairs is mostly made up of the Jaguar Heritage Trust Collection. Jaguars from all ages and all types. Some famous ones from like the film the Austin Powers films, or the amazing Jaguar XJ220 sports car. There is also a few of the Jaguar MK2 cars which will be more known for the inspector Morse TV show. Through to the Jaguar Formula E car which runs fully off batteries!
In the upstairs of this building is a whole host of other cars. Some prototypes, some more last/first production cars, some other cars with important history. Although these don't make the main collection, the museum used to store these off site, but now have them here on view.
At the end of the hall there is a viewing platform that overlooks the workshop facilities where they work on keeping all these cars in tip top condition. Although we went on a Saturday and no one was working, it was great to see the care and attention going into keeping all these cars in great condition.
British Motor Museum
The British Motor Museum if you are a petrol head is a great day out! Lots of great cars to see and lots to bring back memories. If you're not a petrol head (or have family members who are) then it's probably not for you!
Entry to the museum is £14.50 for adults, £12.50 for concessions and £9.00 for kids (5-16 years) and Under 5's are free. There are family tickets available for £40.00 as well. There is also the options to Gift Aid or donate your entry fee and get an Annual Pass in return at no extra cost. (Prices correct at June 2021)
You can find more information on their website here.