Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Beaulieu Motor Museum

Tom came down for a visit and wanted to go out for a day to practise his new driving skills, what better place than the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu?

Just as I remember it from my childhood - it is full of some absolutely stunning cars and motorbikes - heaven for petrolheads no matter what creed they are...


From the earliest days of motoring in the word at the end of the 19th Century, through to inter-war classics when cars were the play things of the rich and on to the post-war development of popular motoring. Many of these vehicles have taken to part in the London to Brighton rally that takes place each year.

Knight - Britain, 1895
This car is one of the first purpose-built petrol driven vehicles to run on public roads in Britain. John Henry Knight of Farnham, Surrey, had this experimental car built by local engineer George Parfitt in 1895. It originally had three wheels. In 1896 the car was fitted with a revised engine and converted to four wheels. It was demonstrated at the Crystal Palace Motor Exhibition organised by the Self-Propelled Traffic Association.

Daimler Grafton Phaeton - Britain, 1897
This car is the oldest surviving Coventry built Daimler and is also one of the earliest surviving British built cards. It has had four owners from new. The third owner, Mr Ted Woolley acquired the car in the 1950s and drove it on a tour to Italy and Germany. It originally had tiller steering. The hood is made from elephant hide. It is used regularly in the annual London to Brighton run.

Daimler 12HP - Britain, 1899
This car holds a significant place in British motoring history. John Montagu MP acquired it new in May 1899 and regularly drove it from the New Forest to London. That summer it became the first petrol-engined vehicle to enter the Palace Yard at the House of Commons.

Columbia Electric - USA, 1901
This car was bought new by Queen Alexandra to use in the grounds of Sandringham House. It is one of a number of electric vehicle models manufactured in the United States under the Columbia name and marketed in Britain by The City & Suburban Electric Carriage Company of London. The body is a victoriette fitted in Britain. MR R G J Nash acquired this vehicle for his collection in the 1930s and drove it regularly when petrol was rationed in the 1940s.

De Dion Bouton 6HP - France, 1903
This is one of the original five cars that launched the museum in 1952. It has been in the Montagu family since 1913 when it was acquired from a tenant on the estate. it was used as a works vehicle by the estate engineer Frank Wadley until the early 1930s, when it was replace by a Morris Cowley.

Hispano-Suiza Alfonso XII - Spain, 1912
This was one of the first sports cars, named after King Alfonso XIII of Spain, who was so impressed with the model that he ordered one as soon as he had road tested it. This car spent its early life in Ireland and has damage to the steering wheel that is believed to date from the Irish Rebellion of Easter 1916

Bugatti Type 35 - France, 1924
Perhaps the most famous of all the Bugatti models. This car is one of five built for and raced in the Grand Prix at Lyon in August 1924 and was driven by Ernest Friderich, finishing in eighth place despite a mid-race crash.

"Bullnose" Morris Cowley - Britain, 1925
This 11.9bhp Bullnose two-seater with dickey was involved in a serious accident on the continent in the mid-1980s. Having completed an arduous two-week tour involving steep alpine passes, the car was struck from behind by a Lada, two miles from the return ferry at Vlissingen in Holland. Flipping over diagonally, it rolled over four times with critically injured driver Bryan Read still at the wheel. Happily Bryan made a good recovery after several weeks in intensive care. The extensively damaged car was an insurance write-off, though the engine remained intact.

Auburn 851 - United States, 1935
From 1925, under E L Cord's direction, Auburn cars gained a reputation for luxury, style and performance. This car, in common with all Auburn Speedsters, was personally tested to exceed 100mph by famous record breaker Ab Jenkins. An autographed plate on the dashboard records this. This car is reputed to have been used by Marlene Dietrich in the film Desire. It is fitted with a period radio.

Cord 810 Westchester - United States, 1937
In nine years, Errett Lobban Cord had risen from unemployment to heading an organisation with assets running to millions of dollars. The empire he built included Auburn, Duesenburg and Lycoming, as well as the Cord Corporation. In 1929 Cord produced the L-29, America's first front wheel drive car to win popular approval. Over priced at the height of the Great Depression, the car ceased production in 1932 but the Cord name re-emerged in 1935 with the Cord 810/812. Designed by Gordon Buehrig, the body design was very advanced, featuring retractable headlamps, albeit operated by a handle inside the car.

Hillman Minx 'Magnificent' - Britain, 1938
The Minx was one of the most popular saloon cars of the 1930s and the most popular Hillman model. it was first introduced in 1932 and underwent several updates before the larger, more modern 'Minx Magnificen' was launched in August 1935. 10,000 of the new model were sold before the end of that year. This car features the new style grill and opening boot lid first seen in mid 1937.

Ford Cortina Mk 1 - Britain, 1963
The Cortina, named after an Italian ski resort, was designed as a European medium sized car at a small price. For £639 the owner had a stylish car capable of 40mpg, carrying five people with twenty cubic feet of boot space. It changed the face of British motoring.

AC Cobra 427 - United States/Britain, 1965
Arguably one of the most sensational sports cars ever built. American racing driver Carroll Shelby developed the Cobra from the AC Ace in 1962. They were built by AC in Thames Ditton and shipped to Shelby's works in California for the installation of the Ford V8 engine. 1,008 Cobras were built, with very few sold in Europe. The 427 had the largest engine of the three models made and even Shelby considered it a 'handful'.

Morris Minor Traveller - Britain, 1970
The much loved Morris Minor ('Moggy') appeared in various guises from the saloon and convertible tourer to the humble pick-up and van. The Morris Minor was the first British car to exceed one million vehicles produced, with 1.6 million of all types produced between 1948 7&1971. The versatile wooden framed estate car or Traveller was introduced in 1953 and 215,000 were produced.

Ford Capri 1600L - Britain, 1971
Ford consumer clinics of the 1960s identified a market for a sporty family car with good looks, handling and performance. The Capri was introduced in February 1969 with an unprecedented choice of engines and options. A European Mustang, 'the car you always promised yourself', used saloon components to project a glamorous and affordable image.

Mini Outspan Orange - Britain, 1972
Outspan commissioned six of these advertising vehicles between 1972 and 1974 at a total cost of £20,000. The company used them extensively for advertising compaigns in Britain, France and Germany. One example was, until recently, still in use in South Africa.

Ferrari Dino 246GTS - Italy, 1974
Considered by many to be one of the most attractive cars ever produced, it was the first Ferrari to be sold in large numbers. The Dino name was from Enzo Ferrari's son Alfredo, known affectionately as Alfredino. It originally didn't carry a Ferrari badge as Enzo Ferrari didn't considere it a Ferrari as it only had a V6 and not a V12 engine.


From the British domination of bikes in the first half of the 20th century to the Japanese revolution of the 1970s, the museum has an amazing collection of bikes.

Vincent Black Shadow Series D - Britain, 1955
The Series D Black Shadow was among the last motorcycles to carry the Vincent name. The Black Shadow was first introduced in 1948 with the aim of producing a sports bike that would cruise comfortably at 100mph and reach 125mph. The new Series D Black Shadow appeared in 1955 as an alternative to the similar but fully panelled and enclosed Black Prince model.

Norton Model 30M Manx - Britain, 1960
The Manx Norton is one of the most famous racing motorcycles of the post-war years. Norton had been very successful with single cylinder racing bikes in the 1930s and in the late 1940s those models were developed in to the Model 40 (350cc) and Model 30 (500cc) Manx. The new 'featherbed' frame was used for the works team in 1950 and was made available to customers from 1951. Limited numbers of 'production' bikes were made every year and sold only to chosen customers.

BSA A10 - Britain, 1961
Closely associated with the 1960s 'ton-up' boys youth culture, Café Racers were road bikes customized to look like the racing motorcycles of the period. This BSA A10 Super Rocket is a good example, having been extensively modified. Even more drastic conversions involved the engine of one manufacturer being combined with the frame of another. Combinations included Triumph engines in Norton frames (Triton) and Triumph engines in BSA frames (Tribsa)

Honda RC162 - Japan 1961 & Kawasaki H1R - Japan, 1975
Mike Hailwood rode this Honda during the 1961 season, including his victorious 250cc race in the Isle of Man TT. He also won the 125cc race the same day. Honda dominated the 1961 250cc World Championship, winning ten of the eleven races, with Hailwood securing the first of his nine world titles.
Mick Grant rode this water-cooled 500cc Kawasaki to victory in the 1975 Isle of Man Senior TT. His average speed for the 6 lap race was 100.27mph with a fastest lap of 102.93mph. The three cylinder, two-stroke H1R was developed from the H1 road bike. Dave Simmonds rode an air-cooled H1R to Kawasaki's first World Championship victory in the 1971 Spanish Grand Prix.

Honda CB750 K0 - Japan, 1970
Honda's first four cylinder road bike caused a sensation when launched at the 1968 Tokyo Show. Considered by some to be the first 'superbike', the CB750 marked the start of a revolution that would change motorcycling forever. Demand in the USA was so great that very few CB750s reached the UK market. Only 36 of the rare K0 version were sold in the UK.


Of course we had to take a spin on the 'Wheels' ride, a free and quick jaunt through the history of motoring.


There is an amazing collection of record breaking cars at Beaulieu motor museum, reminders of heroic deeds and the engineering race to go faster that dominated the 20th Century.

Steam Car 'Inspiration' - Britain, 2008
On 25th August 2009, at Edwards Air Force Base in California, Charles Burnett III drove this car to a new Land Speed Record for steam power, recording an average speed of 139.843mph. The next day Don Wales, grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell drove the car even faster, setting a kilometre record with an average speed of 148.166mph. Altogether the team claimed five international and American speed records.

Sunbeam 'Blue Bird' - Britain, 1920
The 350hp Sunbeam was one of the most significant Land Speed Record cars, holding the record on three occasions. It was designed by Sunbeam's chief engineer, Louis Coatalen, and built at the company's Wolverhampton works during 1919 and early 1920. It underwent several rebuilds throughout its life. Its first Land Speed Record was 133.75mph set at Brooklands on 17th May 1922. In September 1924 Malcolm Campbell claimed the Land Speed Record of 146.16mph at Pendine Sands. On 21st July 1925 he became the first person to break 150mph barrier with a new record of 150.76mph.

Irving Napier Special 'Golden Arrow' - Britain, 1929
Golden Arrow was Major Henry Segrave's answer to the renewed overseas challenge to British Land Speed Record supremacy. In 1927 Segrave became the first person to exceed 200mph on land. On 11th March 1929 huge crowds gathered on Daytona Beach to watch Segrave make two timed runs through the measured mile of 15.55 & 15.57 seconds, recording a new Land Speed Record of 231.446mph.

1,000hp Sunbeam - Britain, 1927
The impressive 1,000hp Sunbeam was one of the first purpose-built Land Speed Record cars and the first to reach 200mph. Driven by Major Henry Segrave on Southport beach, on March 29th 1927, the car achieved an average speed of 203.792mph across two runs, and a new Land Speed Record.

Proteus Bluebird CN7 - Britain, 1960-62
The first car to set a Land Speed Record in excess of 400mph and the last to be wheel driven. Donald Campbell already held the Water Speed Record and his goal became 400mph on land. Technical support and backing came from British industry. A first attempt at Bonneville in 1960 resulted in the car somersaulting and being virtually destroyed. Donald Campbell suffered only minor injuries. The car was rebuilt and despite mechanical issues and bad weather, a new record of 403.10mph was set on 17th July 1964. The records was short-lived as rule changes that year allowed jet cars to attempt the record.


Arthur Weasley's flying Ford Anglia.

Zao's Jaguar XKR from Die Another Day.

Del Boy and Rodney's Reliant Regal Supervan.

Mr Bean's Mini.


Two from the Homemade Ambulance Challenge.

The third vehicle from the Homemade Ambulance Challenge.

Richard Hammonds 'Retro Hatchback Challenge' Vauxhall Nova.

From the Build Your Own Limo Challenge, the Fiat Panda Limo.

The MGF Limo.

The Indestructible Toyota Hilux.

The Double Decker Car Challenge.

James May's Lotus Lightweight Motorhome from the Motorhome Challenge.

Richard Hammond's Expander Rover from the Motorhome Challenge.

The Lotus Excel Submarine from the 50 Years of Bond Challenge.

The Triumph Herald from the Amphibious Car Challenge.

Richard Hammond's Dampervan from the Amphibious Car Challenge.

The Reliant Robin Space Shuttle Challenge.

The Snowbine, designed to show an out of season use for Combine Harvesters.

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