Greetings Fellow Adventurers!
The other weekend as one of my son’s birthday treats, we took him in the Ratmobile up to the British Motor Museum (BMM) near Gaydon in Warwickshire.
- Location: Gaydon Warwickshire
- Total distance traveled: 56 Miles
- Total time at the wheel: 1 hour 20 minutes.
- Adventure rating: 1 out of 5 Crossbow Bolts.
- Packets of square crisps eaten: 3
- Website: BMM Website
The BMM houses the world’s largest collection of historic British cars (over 300 in total) and includes the collections from both the British Motor Industry and the Jaguar Heritage Trusts. It originally opened in 1993 as the Heritage Motor Centre, but after a £1.1 million refurbishment (which included a new additional building) it re-opened in 2016 as the British Motor Museum.
It’s a museum we have visited a number of times in the years before the refurbishment, but we haven’t been back since it first re-opened in 2016. With this in mind we were interested to see how much it had changed from what we remembered.
As always with Templeton days out, the first stop was to the café. Much to my son’s delight it is located on the first floor, which means you have a choice of riding the escalators or going up in the glass lift. My son, who loves lifts with a passion was in Heaven. He thought the glass lift was from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory and happily stood for ages (while we drank tea) watching people (including me) whizz up and down in it, singing the songs from the film – he’s certainly easy to entertain!
One thing we did remember from past visits was how good the food was in the café and thankfully this continued to be the case. We all enjoyed a really lovely veggie curry with rice, naan and mango chutney. My son had his first ever hot chocolate and loved it (later followed by his first Latte – not bad for an eight year old!). We also had to visit the toilets – just to see the stunning purple lights!
Once warmed by curry and beverages we then explored the rest around the museum. It’s light and airy being mainly open plan and all the exhibits are easily accessible as there’re hardly any rope barriers to get in the way. There are also some great little interactive things for the kids to look at, including a superb section on how cars work. The shaking seat that demonstrates the development of suspension has always been a family favourite and sufficed to say we had a good few rides, mostly with it set to cart springs as that gives the roughest ride and is the most fun! As before, there are also a couple of vintage Edwardian cars that can be sat in for a good photo opportunity. These have now been joined by Shaun the Sheep’s Landrover – and yes we did sit in it!
Upstairs on the mezzanine there was a new exhibit based around the TV program ‘Car SOS’. It included some of the restored cars from the show and information boards giving the history of the owner and the reasons for the restoration. Car SOS is a great program if you’ve never seen it. Basically, people who have had a life changing event or illness have their long abandoned but much-loved classic cars restored by the team. This is generally done in secret having been set up by friends or family, and then the car is presented to them as part of some sort of lavish surprise ruse – it’s a great show. We all had a look around the exhibit and enjoyed it immensely. Some of the stories were very heart wrenching. They had some stunning cars in the exhibit which made it all the more funny when of all things my daughter fell in love with an old 1941 Austin Tilly (a WWII British light utility truck!). I can see her whizzing about the countryside in it though – it was definitely her!
My favourite will always be the Rover experimental gas turbine powered car from the late 1950’s. 6 miles on a gallon of paraffin, and a jet engine in the back – awesome! I’d really love to drive it.
A Rover jet!
That being said however like my wife I’ve always had a soft spot for the little Austin Sevens on display. They had one that had been driven the length of the Americas in the 1960’s and was in the condition it returned in (e.g. covered in dents!). This little car had been driven tens of thousands of miles over three continents – now THAT’s a small car adventure!!!
A very well traveled small car!
There a number of really nice displays around the museum, showing all aspects of the British motor industry. There are cars ranging from the first days of motoring all the way up to the present, with many classics such as the ford Anglia, Morris Minors. Minis etc. There are also displays of racing cars, famous movie cars (the DeLorean from back to the future amongst others) and some really interesting prototype and concept cars. I really liked the 1969 Austin Zanda styling concept car. I couldn’t believe it was an Austin – it looked far too cool. I’d drive it around today.
Back to the Future!
6R4 – pah, it’s still a Metro!
After a good mooch around the main area, and after another great cuppa and a visit to the shop, we went over to the new building that displays the rest of the museums collection that they previously didn’t have space for. This is basically a really nice storage shed that also houses the jaguar trusts collection and the workshops (which you can see into).
And with that it was time to go. I really do recommend this place. It’s a great museum that you don’t need to have a specific interest in cars to enjoy. The staff are friendly, and the café is great (and not overly expensive) and there’s a good few hours of things to see and do – It’s well worth a visit on a wet and windy afternoon!
It’s also worth noting that as a UK taxpayer you can do a ‘Gift aid’ when you pay, which will give you a year’s free entry – what could be better.
Farewell my Friends!
P.S. I wonder if I could get the Ratmobile the length of the Americas..? OK maybe the length of Britain – there’re too many snakes over there!