RAC Cars News


Stondon Motor Museum Closes Its Doors

By raccars Published

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One of Britain's hidden motoring gems, Stondon Motor Museum, housed one of the country's largest and most interesting private car collections. Tucked away in the Bedfordshire village of Stondon, the museum started life as a garden centre, whose owner, John Saunders, also had a passion for classic cars. Gradually, the cars took the place of plants before the centre officially became a museum in 1994. John Saunders died in 2013 and the running of the museum was passed to his son, Chris. Due to dwindling visitor numbers, the museum sadly closed its doors for the final time this Easter Monday. The contents will be sold at auction.

While the closure of the premises is a shame for motoring fans, it's a great opportunity for collectors. The cars of the Stondon Motor Museum will be available at two auctions - one this month and another in June, organised by auctioneers, Brightwells, in Herefordshire.

They include a wonderfully eclectic selection of vehicles, including everyday classics, such as an Austin Allegro in eye watering lime green, to a very distinguished 1965 Alvis TE 21. The museum's idiosyncratic formula for displaying its contents put a 1990s Rover 827 next to a pair of Seventies Rolls-Royces in a true celebration of motoring in all its forms. While the classic status of some of the museum's exhibits was questionable, there were some genuine rarities to be enjoyed there. One lucky buyer will become the proud owner of what is believed to be the only example of a Rover Scout. This early crossover was an experiment by Automotive Development Consultants, turning a Metro into a lightweight SUV. Nothing ever came of the project but it's a fabulous footnote in car development history.

There's further retro charm to be found in the form of a Ford Escort Camper, showing Escort owners the joy of the great outdoors, complete with a set of fold up table and chairs. As another great example of the museum's joyful celebration of the mundane with the fabulous, the auctions will also contain a primrose yellow Ginetta G4, one of very few left in existence. Another rarity is a De Tomaso Deauville, UK imports of which totalled eight.

Stondon may also have been the only motoring museum in Britain to show a Microcar - a surprising subject for future classic status. There's also a Citroen SM, considered futuristic in 1970 but looking a bit scruffy now, and an E-reg Lada Riva, which is unlikely to develop huge excitement at auction...

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