The UK’s Classic Motor Hub Is So Much More Than A Showroom
Photography by Will Broadhead
Sometimes we encounter things in life that speak to parts of our brain that haven’t been used in a while. Not poking our primitive carnal side, I mean the kind of excitement and wonder of a simultaneously delighted and overwhelmed child. We’re unique in our specific likes, but we share common triggers when it comes to the kid plus candy store scenario.
I’m surrounded by cars and bikes and racing in general for long enough to see some incredible things, but constant exposure lessens the effect. Every so often though, something comes along that opens your eyes a little wider. I was lucky to have this happen to me recently during a trip to the beautiful Cotswolds, and on the site of a former WW2 Royal Air Force base, I was met with a stunning automotive experience.
I was at the Classic Motor Hub, a place which until only recently was just something that I saw on social media feeds from time to time. I knew that it was a three-dimensional place though, and the Hub had been on my list to visit for quite some time, but I never quite turned my plans of visiting the array of hangers and sheds that make up the hub into a reality. Mistake number one.
Mistake number two was going there for the first time for a gathering on New Year’s Day slightly later in the morning than I’d planned—I’m sure I am not the only one on the planet that was feeling a certain lethargy on January 1st, but in my mind I thought that an hour or so total would be long enough to make my way around the place. Massive miscalculation on my part.
The site is a sprawling collection of wonderful cars representing the 1920s through to today’s cutting edge. I knew I had to come back with more time and less people, and a week later my chance arrived. Meandering through the gorgeous countryside that surrounds the Hub’s location in Bibury, my thoughts were on the cars of course, but I was also looking to find out what exactly made up the pieces of The Classic Motor Hub puzzle; I couldn’t tell if it was a dealership, a museum, or a collection. Soon after arriving at the historic RAF site for the second time now, it became clear that it was actually a bit of all of these things and a bit more. Ben Stinson was my guide for the day, the Hub’s media man. As we made our way around the beautiful machines on site, he explained the various spokes that met at the Hub.
For one, it is part dealership in the form of Cotswold Collector Cars, and part collection as well. There is a workshop on site to prepare cars for sale and for private jobs, as well as maintaining the machines that are in storage here. There is a substantial and historically important private collection on display, owned by a customer of the Hub’s main proprietor, as well as a café. Not to mention acres of space for the public to use for the Coffee and Classics events that occur on the first Sunday of the month between April and October. During these meetings, there is access to almost everything on site, and if the turnout on New Year’s Day was anything to go by, these will be extremely popular.
That’s with good reason, as it takes Ben and I a good three hours to get around everything on display. Every inch of the place holds something that demands your attention, from the cars and bikes on the floor to the photographs and posters that fill the walls. There’s also a superb collection of automotive paraphernalia dotted all around the Hub.
But what makes this truly different and worth a visit? The quality of the vehicles for one. It’s staggering, a real who’s who of four-wheeled fame, as well as a smattering of cult icons. That and the constantly changing inventory of the place means that it never feels stale in the moment or over time. Regardless, you’ll find the team at the Hub all too happy to explain the stories behind the metal.
With plans for another well-equipped shop, club orientated events, and a calendar of days for the general public to enjoy the space, the Classic Motor Hub is about so much more than just the cars. It’s a place with a vested interest in displaying and maintaining the classic cars that we love, as well as a place for likeminded people to get together to show off their vehicles and marvel at some new ones. I’ll certainly be attending the Hub’s first Coffee and Classics meeting of the year, and I’d love to see you there if you can make it. If you do, plan for much more than an hour to get around…