A small motor museum tucked away from the motor industry areas in a tourist area renowned for its outstanding natural beauty? A really wet day, with the sun setting at 4pm, between Christmas and New Year? Sounds like natural Curbivore territory to me!
This is a small museum that does not (or attempt) to cover all of Britain’s motoring history, but has enough to give a flavour of much of it and some great nostalgia exhibits and dioramas.
Let’s take a quick walk around.
Any museum that has a Rover Vitesse (SD1) outside the front door in such weather is definitely going to get me. My favourite car of the 1980s? Got to be a candidate.
Something more modest for the shopping? A 1987 Austin Metro 1.3 City. 1275cc, just like a Mini Cooper. Mine was white, and the smarter 1.3L. With flush headlamps and a rear wiper!
And, yes, it is being photo bombed by a DeLorean DMC12.
Also from Austin at Longbridge, this is a 1956-59 Austin A35 saloon, Austin’s slightly smaller competitor to the Morris Minor, with which it shared the A series engine.
A nice period ad for the roof rack. £4-4-0 is £4, 4 shillings and 0 pence, or £4.20, around £100 in current values.
Something with a surprising twist – an MGA police car from 1960. The twist is that this is an MGA Twin Cam, with a twin cam 8 valve version of the 1588cc B series engine.
How this engine fared in Police service would be interesting to know as it had a reputation for needing careful tuning to avoid detonation and also for drinking oil.
A 1974 Citroen DS, resplendent in period correct brown. Still one of my favourites of all time.
The DS’s predecessor, the Traction Avant was represented by this 1952 car.
One that has never got to the level of the DS, and probably never will, is this Ford Capri, based on the Consul Classic.
This is a 1962 car, with a 1340cc engine. Very soon, the Cortina would make this car look extremely dated. Not even the most extreme fins seen in Europe (discuss?) could reverse that.
One car that needs more CC love is the Opel Manta. This is a 1987 car, with a 2 litre engine, and still capable and eligible of showing the Ford Capri how it should have been done. Behind it a Rover 800 series 1 saloon (Sterling 825) and a Ford Cortina Mk5.
How about a 1936 Morris 10/4 Convertible? On the road for £215 (£16,000 now) with a leather interior and built in jacking system. Very tempting.
Or a 1934 Hillman Minx 4 seater, which cost a little more although it only had a 998cc engine. Sales were of this derivative were low.
The Minx was more familiar as a modest 4 door saloon, and was the car that set the Rootes brothers on the way to being a challenger to Morris, Austin and Ford.
A later Rootes product was this 1965 Singer Vogue, the posher brother of the Hillman Super Minx.
If you haven’t got a Jaguar E Type, then a XK is a good choice. This is a 1955 XK140 fixed head coupe version, with rally history.
The XK140 was the second generation for the XK, superseding the XK120, with the 3.4 litre XK straight six engine.
And to finish, two 1930s saloons with very different backgrounds and histories.
First, a 1933 Buick Viceroy, built by McLaughlin-Buick in Ontario, Canada for export to the UK in right hand drive form. This example has a 3.7 litre straight 8 engine, big for Europe even then, and cost around four times as much as an entry model Ford. Pre-war Buicks were a favourite of royals, especially King Edward VIII (the Duke of Windsor, husband of Mrs Simpson), although this example has no known royal pedigree. It was used for a hotel chauffeur service and then as a taxi.
The other is this 1937 Bentley 4 1/4 litre owned by Donald Campbell, holder of the World Land and Water Speed records concurrently in the early 1960s, and who followed his father Sir Malcolm Campbell in the speed record challenges. The car was actually purchased by Campbell in 1949, and kept it for just a year, before moving onto the next.
The 4 1/4 Litre (and the earlier 3 1/2 Litre) were known as the Derby Bentleys, as they were the first cars to be built after the takeover of Bentley by Rolls-Royce in 1931. This example has the standard steel over wood frame Park ward body, though the coachbuilders were offering many other choices as well. In recognition of the Campbell connection, the car has been painted the blue used on Bluebird, and given a suitable radiator mascot as well.
The museum also has a large Campbell Bluebird Exhibition in a tribute to the racing career of Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbell, with the link being that Donald Campbell was killed on Lake Coniston, just a few miles away, in 1967 during an attempt on the World Water Speed record in Bluebird K7. Bluebird K7 has now been recovered from the lake and restored, and is now a separate section of the museum. We didn’t have time for that section so we’ll be back.
See you there?