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The new look British Motor Museum

By raccars Published

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Why it's worth visiting British Motor Museum, previously known as the Heritage Motor Centre

With just a few days of the Easter holidays remaining, and summer holidays fast approaching you may need to build up your ideas for entertaining the kids with a family day out. The Heritage Motor Centre is fresh from a major overhaul and has been renamed the British Motor Museum. It's a tribute to Britain's fine motoring heritage, sitting neatly between the Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin facilities in Gaydon in Warwickshire, with the largest collection of historic vehicles in the world - there are over 300 British cars on display.

What can you see at the British Motor Museum?

The refurbishment cost £5.1 million and saw all of the existing exhibitions refreshed, together with the opening of a new collection centre. Visitors are now welcomed at the museum's entrance by an original Series I Land Rover and a Jaguar E-Type and can go on to explore exhibits themed around design and concept vehicles and motorsports legends, using interactive touchscreens to learn more.

An automotive timeline is pictured on the museum walls alongside the relevant vehicles, so that the Seventies, for example, showcase a Reliant Regal. The Jaguar exhibition includes a D-Type, an XJR-9 which was victorious at Le Mans and an XJ13 with a 5.0 litre V12 which was designed to compete at Le Mans against Ferrari and Porsche but thanks to a change in competition rules never saw the track. The British Motor Museum allows visitors to get up close and personal with these legendary vehicles - far more so than in most motoring exhibitions.

Most of the vehicles in the display are in their original state and in working order. They include a monstrous, 2.5 tonne Leyland Straight Eight from 1927, which has to be set on fire to get it going. The information boards for each car contain wonderful little stories about each vehicle's history, while children can build their interest with treasure hunt maps. Visitors are invited to view on-going restoration projects and learn about the people as well as the cars which have played an important part in Britain's motoring history.

The new collection centre is the home of the restoration team together with another 250 cars from the reserve collections of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, some of which have never previously been displayed in public, such as the rare XJ40 Estate.

In addition to exclusive vehicles, there are some of the bread and butter products of the UK automotive industry, including an Austin Maestro from 1983, kept there for posterity and in storage rather than on display.

The Drivezone

The museum site includes the Drivezone, a specially constructed off road facility for driver training which features a 1km track complete with junctions, a roundabout and all the usual features of a public road. The Drivezone offers a safe environment in which to introduce children of 11 plus to driving, with qualified instructors using a dual control Ford Fiesta.

What's on and how to get there

Museum volunteers offer guided tours around the facility, which makes a fascinating day out for fans of classic cars and motoring or history in general. The museum runs special events during school holidays including science workshops and lectures. It's also hosting the Classic & Vintage Commercial Show on 11 and 12 June, the Banbury Run on 19 June, the BMW Festival on 14 August and the Retro Truck Show on 11 September this year.

The museum is open daily from 10am - 5pm except for closures at Christmas and New Year. It can be found at Banbury Road, Gaydon, Warwickshire, CV35 0BJ, which is five minutes from junction 12 of the M40 and easy to find using the brown Motor Museum road signs.

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