Back in May, some of us – namely Russell and Mandy, Chris and Marise, Roger and Miriam together with Sue and your scribe – ventured down to Yeovil to experience the famous Haynes International Motor Museum. Take a look at Russell’s report in the June 2014 Newsletter for further details. For this article, I thought it would be good to give you a flavour of what you will enjoy, by taking a quick breeze through some of the delights on offer.
The vehicles, mainly British/European and American, are housed in a new purpose built facility. All are driven as much as possible. The Museum Trust restores and maintains the exhibits, which also include an excellent collection of motor cycles. The displays are divided over ten “Halls”, each depicting a different period of motoring evolution, from the Dawn of Motoring in Hall 1 to the Millennium Hall populated by future collectibles; they have an XJS and an XKR in there, so start investing! Not all the space is dedicated to the automobile; you can visit the motor cycle section, relive your early days in the pedal cars area and become all nostalgic over the Dinky and Corgi toy collections.
So, what floated this visitor’s boat? Well straight away, in the spacious and thankfully uncluttered foyer, stood the best Mustang Convertible that I have ever seen, paired with an AC which looked to be in original condition. Chris liked that one.
Once into the main museum, you are met by the vehicles representing the Dawn of Motoring with enough Edwardian carriages to keep Downton Abbey in business for a good few series. All very sedate.
By contrast, as you walk from this Hall your senses are assailed by the vibrant Red Room. Why Red Room? Simply because all the exhibits are red. To quote from the guide, “displaying such a variety of performance cars in this way brings to the fore the art of sports car styling, without allowing the most prominent of design features, that of colour, to become an overriding factor in the appeal of a vehicle”. Hmm. Whatever, they’re red and it looks good! It’s not surprising that red has been the most popular colour choice for sports cars since the 1950’s when you look upon a sea of red AC’s, Triumph’s, MG’s, Heally’s, from Britain with European delights such as Porche (that one’s for you, Vaughn), Alfa Romeo, Ferrari’s and Facel Vega. All good stuff, but for out and out WOW factor, the red Lamborghini Countach hits the spot head on.
Moving into Hall 4, we see the Brits and the Yanks. It is a place of contrasts, from fins to minis, from Stanley Steamers to Aston Martins. Do not miss this one. Custom and kit cars are well represented in Hall 6 from a ’58 Royal Mail Moggy van (well, sort of) to a 90’s Jag based Kougar. Motor Sport resides in Hall 7, with Michael Schumacher’s 96 Ferrari F1 Type F310 (DC) – see the photo roll and watch Russell squeezing into it. For me, the star of this Hall is the iconic Bugatti Type 35B. This 1926 racer was massively successful in competition and won 12 Grand Prix in that year alone. Truly elegant and beautifully functional.
Sixty years of British marques are celebrated in Hall 8 and will be familiar to those of us who used to drive around in these slow, basic dated but loveable machines. Wallow in nostalgia as you feast on such stalwarts as the “Bullnose” Morris Cowley, the Morris 8, a Riley RMA, Rover “Cyclops”, Wolsey 6/80, Sunbeam Talbot, Ford Pop, Jowett Javelin, and the reps delight, a Consul Lowline. Hall 9 has motor cycles to die for including; BSA, Francis Barnett, Triumph, Velocette, AJS, Norton, Brough and many more. All going strong until they invented Japan. Maybe the same could be said for some of the cars!
Hall 5 was number one for me. You really must see this one. Featuring the USA Timeline, the Jaguar Collection and some of the rarest Americans this side of the pond. The pioneering spirit of the last century is represented here, with Daimlers, Lanchesters, Rolls and Bentley.
William Lyons’ contribution is recognised by the Jaguar Display with XK’s, E Types, Mk 5 and 8, 420G, and many more. It was in the States that the automobile really came into its own and no more so than with the Ford Model T one of the best sellers of all time. Admire the lovely 1915 example on display here not far from the imposing 1931 Cadillac Model 452 V16 Madame X, one of only 300 built.
Some of the best pre Depression motors were built in Indiana and the Hall sports three of these with a ’37 Cord 812 Westchester Sedan, an Auburn 852 Supercharged Boat Tail Speedster and the hugely impressive 1931 Duesenberg Model J Derham bodied Tourster. Along with Cadillac, and Packard, Duesenberg produced some of America’s finest quality automotive achievements. The Tourster had a 6,816 cc twin cam, straight-eight below the bonnet, its 320 horses capable of pulling over two and a half tons of metal to well over 120mph. This example is one of only eight Model J Toursters built. The total Model J production amounted to 481 of which about 378 survive. The car on show is the only one outside the USA and, some say that the Owners Club over there tried to block its export, but, by some subterfuge, it was spirited to the UK to become the museum’s most valuable asset.
There is much more to see at the museum and my sprint through the Halls in these pages does not do justice to such a collection. So, why not take the Jag down to Yeovil and make a weekend of it?