Travel: Is This Where The Best British Cars Are Kept?

Is This Where The Best British Cars Are Kept?

By Nat Twiss
February 15, 2016

Photography by Nat Twiss

You might know that the UK’s Midlands region is something of an automotive hotspot in the UK—between the many carmakers that have called the region home over the past century, and the countless motor racing teams who operate in the area, it’s probably fair to say it’s the home of the motor car in Britain.

There’s a particularly special village in the Midlands called Gaydon. As the home of Aston Martin, as well as Jaguar Land Rover’s design and engineering site, it’s currently responsible for the production of some of the most prestigious cars in the country. It’s difficult not to notice the camouflaged development mules running on the local roads, as well as a bunch of other incredible machines that the employees drive. It’s a small nirvana for car enthusiasts.

It would only make sense for there to be a museum nearby, right?

Well, would you believe it, there is! The British Motor Museum isn’t entirely new – it originally opened as the Heritage Motor Center in 1993, but after deciding to expand with a new building and a refurbishment of the original building, it only made sense to rebrand.

I was given the chance to have a small preview ahead of opening day, and came away impressed. We’ll be the first to admit that we’re a very lucky bunch, and we get to see some frankly stunning machines up close and personal, but your average event goer often finds themselves kept at a distance, and sometimes it’s the same at museums and auto shows. At the British Motor Museum though, there aren’t any barriers. You’re welcome to inspect the finer details of the huge collection.

Yes, even the really rare stuff.

And there’s a lot to see: it’s the largest collection of British cars in the world. There are literally hundreds of cars in the collection, from production vehicles, to racers, to prototypes, charting the rise (and a couple of falls) of the motor industry in Britain. Even if the more pedestrian cars aren’t your cup of tea, there’s plenty to see. We particularly loved watching mechanics actively maintaining the cars in the Collection Center.

Museums can feel stuffy very fast—it can be really easy to take classic cars a bit too seriously, and this is such a refreshing way of experiencing history. Other collections might be a bit more beautifully presented, but spending a few hours in Gaydon felt a bit like a warm embrace from an old friend—which is probably how it should feel.

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Majed Mougharbel
Majed Mougharbel
7 years ago

Driven there, all the way from France, with my family for a Rover 75 / MG ZT club meet in 2010. Turns out there was also a Porsche club meet on the other side of the parking and a performance event in front of the entrance, involving some of the cars of the museum as well. What a day it has been. Lots of interesting and odd cars on display back then. Would love to go back.

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt
8 years ago

I didn’t realise it had been refurbished – it was good before!
They have lots of exciting events there.
The day I bought a secondhand Range Rover Classic LSE from a dealer in Coventry, we drove it straight to a Range Rover event at Gaydon and got loads of nice compliments – a great way to start our ownership of a particularly special car. We’ve also displayed our TVR’s there at Sports/Performance events.
I’ve also been lucky enough to have some professional involvement with JLR at their test track at Gaydon – the thrill of seeing F-type jags and Aston Maryins at full tilt before they were seen on the public highway was such a privilege.
The icing on the cake was being asked by my brother to go with him on a tour of the Aston Martin factory just before he bought a Vantage…
So, as you probably can tell, I’m a Gaydon fan.

Owen Stride
Owen Stride
8 years ago

Would love to visit the remodeled museum. I went, 10-11 years ago and thought it was excellent then

Paul Steel
Paul Steel
8 years ago

Completely agree, it’s a great collection and much improved wth the new layout and extra building. I visited on open day and was glad to discover that my £14 entry fee gives me access for 12 months, which is great as I will be visiting for a number of club events events over the summer.

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