British Motor Museum – Gaydon (GB) – September 2021 update

The British Moor Museum at Gaydon will soon celebrate its 30th anniversary, having first opened in 1993. Its roots go back a further 10 years to 1983, when the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust (B.M.I.H.T.) was established to ensure the preservation of an important collection of vehicles and archived owned, at that time, by British Leyland. BL agreed to transfer the unique vehicle and artefact collections from Austin, Morris, MG, Riley, Wolseley, Standard Triumph, Jaguar and Rover, into a series of charitable trusts, under the umbrella management of the B.M.I.H.T. The trusts included the Austin Rover Group (later, Rover Group) Heritage Trust, the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust. When Ford acquired Jaguar cars in 1990, the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust collection was moved to the Jaguar Browns Lane facility in Coventry, and the Rover Group Trust gifted its collections to the B.M.I.H.T. Syon Park in London was home to some of the Trust’s vehicles until 1993, while the rest were stored at Studley Castle in Warwickshire, together with the archive collection. Funded by the Rover Group and other sponsors, a new, spacious museum at Gaydon, called the ‘Heritage Motor Centre’ (and set within 65 acres of landscaped grounds) was opened in 1993. This move enabled the Trust’s collection of more than 25 vehicles and a vast quantity of archives to be brought together and made more accessible to the public. At the time that it was built, the purposed-designed museum sat in a rural area, just a mile or so off the M40 motorway, but with very little passing traffic. With plenty of space on site, the museum quickly became not just a destination in its own right, but one that was very popular for hosting Car Clubs and larger events. More recently, it has acquired new neighbours with both Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover opening up facilities next door which have grown massively in size over the years. With the collapse of the MG-Rover Group in 2005, remit of the collection was widened to cover cars that extended beyond MG-Rover and all its predecessors in title, and as it grew, so some pruning of the collection was called for, with a few duplicates sold off. Even so, there were far more cars than could ever be displayed, and whilst some were crammed into a storage facility, others were just abandoned outside, as visitors frequently observed and commented. More space was clearly called for, and so since 2004 the Trust, whose declared mission is to collect, conserve, research and display for the British nation, motor vehicles, archives and ancillary material relating to the motor industry in Great Britain has raised funds for a variety of projects, including major redevelopment of the Museum. A new mezzanine floor to provide additional exhibition space opened in 2007, but that was not enough to cope with ever growing demands for display space. Hence the recent works costing £5.1m, culmination of a 5 year program, which saw a significant set of alterations to the existing display space and the construction of an additional building called the ‘Collections Centre’ building to house and display the reserve vehicle collection of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust and the Jaguar Heritage Trust, 250 cars in total. The museum was closed for several weeks at the end of 2015 and reopened in mid February 2016. I’ve been to a number of events at the site since then, but never really found the time to have a good look at the new museum and the Collections Centre. In October 2020, with a full, and what turned out to be an exceedingly wet day available, I was able finally to put that right, and a comprehensive report on what I found has already been published here. Museums continue to evolve and change, though, so a return visit will always elicit new things. I came back to Gaydon in August 2021 for the MITCAR event, but once again, never found the time to get inside. My chance to have another look came a matter of weeks later, when a last minute change of plans for a North West Abarth event which was conceived to take place at Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat farm had to be relocated, and the Gaydon Museum was chosen as an alternative. Here is what I found on that September 2021 day.



There has been a Vauxhall Heritage Collection for many years. It used to be housed in a facility at the Luton plant, and was open to the public typically only once or twice a year. Many of the cars have become familiar to us, as they have been loaned out to journalists for various features over the years, but it was always a shame that they could not be more widely enjoyed. The closure of the Luton plant in 2020 and a need to vacate the site meant that a new plan was required. Concern for the Collection’s future was fuelled by the announcement that 11 of the cars were to be sold later that year and a further 9 were offered in 2021, but reassurances were made that the rest of the vehicles would remain and we were told that the ones that were sold were either duplicates or those in poor condition. For those which remained, we were promised a purpose-designed museum at Ellesmere Port to showcase the collection, and that may yet happen. Until it does, though, at least some of the cars can be seen here. They are rather squeezed into limited space, most of them on the mezzanine floor and a few more in the vestibule area on the first floor by the cafe. There are around 50 vehicles in the Collection, but there isn’t space for all of them here, so the plan is that the cars on show will be rotated periodically. There were 28 of them here at the time of my visit. Cars seen here may be different by the time of any next visit.

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Scottish marine engineer Alexander Wilson founded the company at 90–92 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, London, in 1857. Originally named Alex Wilson and Company, then Vauxhall Iron Works from 1897, the company built pumps and marine engines. In 1903 the company built its first car, a five-horsepower single-cylinder model steered using a tiller, with two forward gears and no reverse gear. About 70 were made in the first year, before the car was improved with wheel steering and a reverse gear in 1904. This is 1904 model and boasts 6HP.

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The first car to be produced in 1905, at Luton was this, the 7/9hp, 1300cc, 3-cylinder, however it went out of production almost immediately being very much under-powered.

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This is a 1909 B Type. Vauxhall used the letter B for two different models. The B.09 was a 4 cylinder 16 hp car and the B.10, B.11 and B.12 were 6 cylinder cars. The B.09 had an engine that was similar but smaller than the 20 hp A.09, the size being 79.4 x 100mm, 2011cc 16hp. It had a 3 speed gearbox and was fitted into a more lightly designed chassis. The first car was manufactured in December 1908. In June 1909 after 22 cars had been made the bore was increased to 85.7mm 18hp. A further 115 cars were produced, the last one in March 1911. The B.10 was a monoblock 6 cylinder version of the B.09 engine, 85.7 x 100mm, 3461cc 27 hp. It was fitted into a longer wheelbase version of the A.10 chassis. Announced in November 1909, 19 cars were manufactured between January and September 1910. However two were completed in November 1911, 21 being made in total. Sales were disappointing and performance not noticeably different from the 20hp A Type. The B.11 was a bi-block 6 cylinder version of the A.11 engine, 90 x 120mm, 4581cc 30 hp. It was announced in November 2010. 49 cars were manufactured up till June 1912, 6 having a 95mm bore engine. This chassis, which was further strengthened, was more suited to heavy formal coachwork. One car survives which is now in the USA. The B.12 was announced in November 2011. The first 31 cars made until April 1913 had 90mm bore engines but subsequent cars had the bore increased to 95 mm, 5104cc 35hp. Production continued through 1914, 6 cars in 1915 and 4 in 1916, 87 being manufactured in total. At least six were exported to Russia. This is a 1909 B.09. It was found in a West Country scrapyard in 1949, and restored during 1952-1953,. It’s the only survivor out of the 137 B-types that were built, but sadly nothing is known of its early history. The body and engine were re-restored in the late 1990s

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This is a 14/40 M Type Princeton. The Vauxhall 14 is an automobile which was produced by Vauxhall in the United Kingdom from 1922 to 1927. As well as United Kingdom manufacture, knock-down kits were assembled in Australia. First shown at the 1921 London Motor Show, the car reached the public in 1922. The new car, designed by Clarence King, had a four-cylinder 2297cc side-valve engine mounted in-unit with a three-speed transmission. The separate chassis had semi-elliptic leaf springs at the front and cantilever springs at the rear. Brakes acted on the rear wheels only with a separate pair of shoes for the handbrake. Disc type wheels were fitted. The car was said to be capable of reaching nearly 60 mph (100 km/h) and return 28 mpg. The car was available in a variety of body styles: 2 door Melton tourer; 4 door Princeton tourer; Bedford, Norfolk and Wyndham saloons; Kimberley limousine; Wyvern landaulette and Grafton coupe. Approximately 1800 cars were produced. In 1924 the LM version appeared with a higher compression engine developing 40 bhp and four-speed transmission. Wire-spoked wheels replaced the disc ones. Front-wheel brakes were added in 1926. In 1924 the 14-40 with Princeton tourer body cost GBP595. Approximately 3500 cars were produced.


This is a 1930 T Type 20/60. The Vauxhall 20-60 is a four or five-seater saloon, limousine, tourer or coupé-cabriolet manufactured by Vauxhall of Luton. It was announced on 28 September 1927 with a six-cylinder engine and a four-speed gearbox. A cautious move downmarket. “The first time any six-cylinder Vauxhall has been sold under £1000!” “British & Vauxhall”. The initial 2.7-litre engine was enlarged to 3-litres after twelve months. Priced to be at the lower end of the luxury market with six cylinders, four speeds and five brakes, the better endowed 20-60 replaced the 4-cylinder Vauxhall 14-40. Though the new engine’s capacity or swept volume was enlarged just 465cc the vagaries of the RAC or tax formula moved its tax rating from 14HP to 20HP. This tax increase was a significant impost for owners. Its design was completed before General Motors took control in late 1925 making the car “in construction and plan British”. The 20-60 – it was given a 3.3-litre engine in October 1930 and renamed 80, later Silent Eighty – remained in production until the introduction of Vauxhall’s first true General Motors large-car design, the Vauxhall Big Six, announced and displayed in October 1933 but not delivered until August 1934 long after the GM-designed medium-sized Cadet released in October 1930. This gap in Vauxhall’s programme may reflect the sales-failure of their very expensive 25-70 sleeve-valve car.

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The 30/98 was produced from 1913 to 1927, although it is believed that only 13 30/98s were made before war intervened and these were all for selected drivers, the last of these pre war cars, built in 1915 for Percy Kidner a joint Managing Director of Vauxhall. Actual production began in 1919. Also known as the E Type, the 30/98 name is believed to have been coined because the car had an output of 30 bhp at 1,000 rpm and 98 bhp at 3,000 rpm, though another explanation is that it had an RAC horsepower rating of 30 and a cylinder bore of 98 mm. Perhaps the most likely of all is that there was then a popular but heavier slower Mercedes 38/90. However it was found, the name 30-98 looked and sounded so well and the car proved popular. The 30/98s used the earlier Prince Henry chassis, but were distinguished by having more-or-less flat rather than V-shaped radiators. Laurence Pomeroy took the Prince Henry L-head side-valve engine, bored it out 3 mm, then cold-stretched the crankshaft throws 5 mm using a steam power hammer to lengthen the stroke. The camshaft was given a new chain drive at the front of the engine, high lift cams and new tappet clearances. The Prince Henry chassis was slightly modified and the whole given a narrow alloy four-seater body, a pair of alloy wings (front mudguards) and no doors. The first 30/98 was constructed at the behest of car dealer and motor sport competitor, Joseph Higginson—inventor of the Autovac fuel lifter—who won the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb motoring competition on 7 June 1913 in his new Vauxhall, setting a hill record in the process, having in previous weeks made fastest time of the day at Waddington Pike and Aston Clinton, but these were not racing machines but fast touring cars. The exhaust made a tranquillising rumble, there was no howl, no shriek, no wail, but there was the quiet satisfaction of knowing that if stripped for action, the car could lap Brooklands at 100 mph, and its makers guaranteed that. Most of them were built with a 4 seater open tourer body, though other body styles were produced as well.

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First all-new design post war were the L Series Wyvern and Velox. There was clear American influence in the design of these new family cars. They started production in September 1948 and finished in July 1951. Many of these went for export to help the British economy. The Wyvern was fitted with a 1442 cc four-cylinder engine with 35 bhp with a top speed of 62 mph. The optional extras available were a radio/heater/foglight. Although over 55,000 of these were made, these days they are forgotten classics with very few surviving.

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Announced 2 October 1957, this is probably the best-known Cresta these days. It mimicked the American fashion for tail-fins, wrap-around windows and white-wall tyres, taking its cues from the 1957 model Buick Special announced twelve months before the Cresta, though understated compared to the Cadillacs and Buicks of the time. All factory-built PAs were four-door saloons: the estate cars were converted by Friary of Basingstoke, Hampshire and are rare today. The PA Cresta had independent front suspension using coil springs and an anti-roll bar with a rigid axle and semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The Lockheed brakes used 9 in drums all round. Carried over from the last of the E series cars, the 2,262 cc six-cylinder engine had pushrod-operated overhead valves and a compression ratio of 7.8:1 (a low compression 6.8:1 version was available); it produced 82.5 bhp at 4,400 rpm. A single Zenith carburettor was used. The transmission had three forward speeds.It was well equipped with leather and nylon upholstery for its bench front and rear seats and woven pile carpet. A heater was fitted as standard. The radio remained an option on the home market. Other options included fog lamps, reversing light, locking filler cap and external mirrors. In order to keep the front floor clear to seat six people the handbrake lever was mounted under the dashboard and the gearchange lever was column mounted. The car could be ordered painted in either single or two tone colours. In August 1959 the Cresta was given a facelift, with a new, larger, grille and the replacement of the three piece rear window with a single wrap around screen. The previous ribbed roof panel was replaced with a smoothly contoured version (with structural revisions to the C pillars and rear parcel shelf area to retain structural strength). The Vauxhall flutes on the front wings finally disappeared, replaced by a straight chrome side moulding which was also the division point for the two tone colour scheme. Further changes came in August 1960 with the introduction of a new engine of square dimensions with a redesigned, longer, cylinder block and a capacity of 2651cc. A further increase in compression ratio to 8.0:1 and larger valves in wedge shaped combustion chambers contributed to a power output of 95bhp at 4,600rpm. Increased diameter wheels allowed larger brakes to be fitted, but these were still of the drum type (Ford had introduced front disc brakes as an option on the rival Zephyr/Zodiac models in September 1960 and would make them standard in June 1961). Externally, there was a redesign of the rear lights, with shallower units replacing the elongated oval ones of the previous versions. The direction indicators, previously in the rear tail fins were now incorporated in the main lamp unit and the fins were now solid with a V for Vauxhall badge. The rear bumper was now a higher mounted straight topped design. The front sidelights and direction indicators, previously separate were now in a combined housing and there were redesigned wheel trims and hub caps. Inside, a redesigned fascia with a padded top and a horizontal speedometer was featured. In October 1961 the final updates to the PA series were made. Front disc brakes became an optional extra (four months after Ford had made them standard on the Zephyr/Zodiac). Separate front seats became an option to the standard bench and there was now wood trim to the fascia and door cappings. The PA Cresta continued in production in this form until replaced by the PB series in October 1962.

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Vauxhall looked across the Atlantic for the styling inspiration for their new 4 cylinder car, effectively a replacement for the Wyvern, which was called Victor and launched in February 1957. The car was of unitary construction and featured a large glass area with a heavily curved windscreen and rear window. Following then current American styling trends, the windscreen pillars sloped backwards. In fact, the body style was derived directly from the classic 57 Chevrolet Bel Air, though this was not obvious unless the two cars were viewed side by side. Bench seats were fitted front and rear trimmed in Rayon and “Elastofab”, and two-colour interior trim was standard. The Super model had extra chrome trim, notably around the windows; remnants of the signature Vauxhall bonnet flutes ran along the front flanks and the exhaust pipe exited through the rear bumper. The car was equipped with arm rests on the doors, door-operated courtesy lights, a two-spoke steering wheel, and twin sun visors. Although the engine was of similar size to that of the outgoing Wyvern it was in critical respects new. Fitted with a single Zenith carburettor it had an output of 55 bhp at 4200 rpm and gained a reputation of giving a long trouble free life. This was also the year when Vauxhall standardised on “premium” grade petrol permitting an increase in the compression ratio from the Wyvern’s 6.8:1 to 7.8:1. Premium grade petrol had become available in the UK at the end of 1953, following an end to post-war fuel rationing, and at that time offered average octane level of 93, but in the ensuing four years this had crept up to 95 (RON). The Victor’s three-speed gearbox had synchromesh on all forward ratios and was operated by a column-mounted lever. In early 1958 Newtondrive two-pedal control was available as an option. Suspension was independent at the front by coil springs and with an anti-roll bar was fitted on a rubber mounted cross member. The rear suspension used a live axle and semi elliptic leaf springs. Steering was of the recirculating ball type. Lockheed hydraulic 8 in drum brakes were used. The Victor had a top speed of 74.4 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in a heady 28.1 seconds, and on test averaged 31.0 mpg. An estate variant was launched in 1958. A Series II model was announced in 1959 with simplified styling, the model losing all its ’57 Chevy styling detail and the teardrop shaped Vauxhall flutes were replaced by a single chrome side-stripe running nose to tail. The sculpted “porthole” rear bumper tips, which rusted badly due to exhaust residue, were replaced by plain, straight ones. The old bumper ends continued to be used for many years on a variety of motor coaches and ice-cream vans. The new car was available in three versions with a De-Luxe as the top model featuring leather trim and separate front seats. Total production of the F-Series (later known as FA) Victor was more than 390,000 units, but a particularly bad propensity for rusting means that there are few survivors

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Vauxhall followed up the rather American-looking FA Series with the FB Victor in the autumn of 1961. Among many changes was a substantial improvement regarding rust protection. Quite in contrast to its “junky” predecessor, it was considered a solidly built, well-proportioned vehicle. It was widely exported, although sales in the US ended after 1961 when Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick came up with home-grown compact models of their own, with the all-new GM “Y” platform Consequently, the FB only achieved sales of 328,000 vehicles by the time it was replaced in 1964. The body styling owed nothing to any US GM influence. Mechanically, the main change was the option of a 4-speed all-synchromesh transmission with floor change but the previously used 3-speed all-synchro column change unit was still fitted as standard. The engine was also revised with higher compression ratio and revised manifolding increasing the power output to 49.5 bhp. This gave the model a top speed of 76.2 mph and could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 22.6 seconds, and slightly better fuel consumption at 32.2 mpg. In September 1963 the engine was enlarged from 1508 to 1594 cc. The increased capacity coincided with a further increase in the compression ratio of the standard engine from 8.1:1 to 8.5:1, reflecting the continuing increase in the average octane level of “premium grade” fuel offered in the UK, now to 97 (RON). 1963 was also the year when front disc brakes with larger 14 in wheels became an option. Models with the larger engine had a revised frontal treatment with a block style grille element and revised parking lights at either lower extreme of the grille. A Vynide-covered bench front seat was standard on the base model and Super Victor but individual seats were standard on the De Luxe and optional on the lower-priced cars. Other options included a heater, fog lamps, radio, screen washers, reversing light and seat belts. Estate and “sporty” VX 4/90 models were also offered, but seen here is a regular Super model.

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Launched in 1962, the Velox and Cresta PB was a major styling revision, completely eliminating the tailfins, with a flat bonnet and generally more conservative styling taking its cues from the Victor FB introduced the previous year and with which it shared its doors. The engine was the same 2,651 cc straight six as the last of the PA series and although the compression ratio was increased to 8.5:1, power output remained at 95 bhp. Front disc brakes were now fitted as standard. In October 1963 an estate conversion was made available, the work carried out by Martin Walter Ltd. of Bedford Dormobile fame and fully approved by Vauxhall. The conversion featured a steel-framed glass fibre roof extension and tailgate. The rear doors with squared-off window frames were straight from the factory-built Victor estate. In October 1964 the engine was increased in capacity to 3293 cc by virtue of a larger, 92 mm, bore in combination with the original 82.55 mm stroke. Power increased to 115 bhp at 4,200 rpm. The gearbox was still three-speed with column change but an overdrive was available. As standard, the 3.3-litre cars had a three-speed column-change gearbox, with a four-speed floor-change unit as an option. Three-speed hydramatic automatic transmission was available with both engines but this was changed to the two-speed Powerglide unit towards the end of the 3.3-litre PB run. Servo-assisted brakes, with discs at the front, were fitted. Minor changes to gearing and the option of power steering were introduced early in 1965 and the PB series continued until replaced by the PC models in October of that year. The model received a new full-width chrome grille incorporating the headlights and there was a full-length chrome strip along the body sides. It was replaced just three years later by the new PC version. 87,407 were made.

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The Bedford CA was a distinctive pug-nosed light commercial vehicle produced between 1952 and 1969, manufactured in short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase forms, each form available in either a 10–12 cwt or a 15 cwt version. Generally it was supplied as a light delivery van with sliding doors, but it was also available as a chassis with cowl upon which specialist bodywork could be added. The Bedford Dormobile was a Campervan conversion based on the Bedford CA van. In its day, the vehicle was ubiquitous; the Ford Transit of its time. These vehicles are now rare.

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This is an FC Victor 101, the least often seen of any Victor type, partly because the car was only produced for three years, from 1964 to 1967. Looking quite different to the FB, the FC was the first Vauxhall to use curved side-window glass, allowing greater internal width: the Estate derivative was noted as being especially capacious for its class. Nevertheless, the public at the time regarded it as a qualitative downgrade after the pleasantly styled, conservative FB. As a countermeasure the FC Victor was marketed as the Victor 101, the name arising from the claim that there were ‘101 improvements’ over the FB. Bench or separate front seating was offered, with three-speed column-change gearbox or the optional four-speed floor change. A ‘Powerglide’ two-speed automatic transmission was also available. Another US feature was that the optional radio was incorporated into the bright-metal dashboard trim. An innovative styling cue, which was adopted four years later by the Audi 100, was the incorporation of the side and indicator lamps in the front bumper, as had been common practice in the US for many years. The sculpted bumpers were, for the first time in the UK, contiguous with the body styling. The overall look of the car was unique in GM, with its slab sides outlined with brightwork seam covers incorporating the door handles. This, with the full width grille incorporating the headlights, was more reminiscent of the Lincoln Continental. The FC (101) was the last Victor to have an engine with push rods and rockers operating the overhead valves. As with the rest of the running gear, the sporting VX 4/90 was developed from the FB series and offered an alloy head, higher compression ratio, twin-Zenith 34IV carburettors, stiffer suspension and additional instruments. Vauxhall took the VX4/90 seriously enough to offer an optional limited-slip differential, but few cars were ordered with it: the VX4/90 was, by this time, largely overshadowed by the less expensive Ford Cortina GT, which also had a higher profile in race and rally competitions. All Victors sported a different grille treatment for 1967, a final-year facelift that was standard Vauxhall practice at the time. This had a more finished and upmarket look with sturdier bars rather than the cheaper looking criss-cross element on earlier cars. The waistline chrome strip was also thinner. Victor FC models had racked up 238,000 sales by late 1967 when the ‘Coke bottle’-shaped FD replaced it.

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The last of the Cresta series, the PC, was introduced for the London Motor Show in October 1965. No longer offered as a lower specification Velox version, it was designated PCS (standard), PCD (Deluxe) and PCE (Executive), this last having its own name, ‘Viscount’. It was a different car, larger and styled with the coke-bottle look that would also be seen in the FD Victor series: it now resembled a slightly smaller Chevrolet Impala. It was similar to the Australian Holden HR, but larger and better trimmed, and featured the 123 DIN/142 SAE hp 3.3-litre straight-six engine for its entire seven-year production run. Though a small-block V8 would have dropped straight in, this option was never offered in Europe. Initially, the three-speed column-shift manual transmission was standard with optional overdrive; four-speed manual and two-speed Powerglide were also optional. Later cars, from about 1971, came with four-speed manual or three-speed automatic, both having floor shift and bucket seats. The De-Luxe version had four headlamps instead of the two fitted on the (much rarer) base models. In January 1967 domestic market deliveries began of the Vauxhall Cresta estate car. This vehicle resulted from a conversion by Martin Walter of Folkestone, a firm better known for their (primarily Bedford based) Dormobile motorhome conversions. The estate version was 2 1⁄2 inches higher than the saloon due to a combination of heavy-duty rear suspension, an increase in the outer diameter of the tyres (to 7.00-14 in from 5.90-14in) and the modified roof line.] The Cresta estate was initially offered in the UK at £1,507, which represented a price premium of around 40% over the equivalent saloon. The long established Humber Hawk estate and recently introduced Ford Zephyr estate carried UK sales prices of £1,342 and £1,379 respectively. The Cresta estate offered a load platform length of 47 inches (120 cm) which increased to an impressive 76 inches (190 cm) when the back seat was folded down, but Vauxhall’s contender was never priced to be a big seller and the last estate cars were made in 1968. The saloon ran until 1972 and was not directly replaced.

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The HB Series Viva was launched in October 1966. It inherited the engines, but little else, from the first Viva, the HA. It was a larger car than the HA, featuring coke bottle styling, modelled after American GM models such as the Chevrolet Impala/Caprice of the period. It featured the same basic engine as the HA, but enlarged to 1159 cc, but with the added weight of the larger body the final drive gearing was reduced from 3.9 to 1 to 4.1 to keep the nippy performance (except the SL90 which retained the 3.9 diff having the power to cope with the higher ratio). An automatic Viva HB was offered from February 1967, fitted with the ubiquitous Borg Warner Type 35 system. Cars of this size featuring automatic transmission were still unusual owing to the amount of power the transmission systems absorbed: in a heartfelt if uncharacteristically blunt piece of criticism a major British motoring journal later described Viva HBs with automatic transmission as “among the slowest cars on the road”. The HB used a completely different suspension design from the HA, having double-wishbone and coil springs with integrated telescopic dampers at the front, and trailing arms and coil springs at the rear. Lateral location and anti-squat of the rear axle was achieved using upper trailing arms mounted at approximately 45° fixed to lugs at the top of the differential. Both front and rear could also be fitted with optional anti-roll bars. The HB set new standards for handling in its class as a result of the adoption of this suspension design, where many of its contemporaries stuck with leaf springs and MacPherson struts. This encouraged the development of more powerful Viva models. First to appear was the Brabham SL/90 HB that was purported to have been developed with the aid of world racing champion Jack Brabham. Brabham models were marked out externally by distinctive lateral black stripes at the front of the bonnet that curved down the wings and then headed back to end in a taper at the front doors. The Brabham model differed from the standard Viva SL/90 in having a different cam-shaft, uprated suspension with anti-roll bars, different exhaust manifolds, and a unique twin-carb manifold, as well as differing interior trim. This model is almost impossible to find today. Not quite so rare is the top of the range model which was first seen in February 1968, the Viva GT. This car featured the 2 litre twin carb overhead camshaft engines from the larger Vauxhall Victor. It was distinguished by having a black bonnet with twin louvres and significant changes to the interior. Initially all the cars were white, but later GTs came in different colours. Fast for sure, the car was not as thoroughly developed as it needed to be, and the car was not really the desirable sports saloon that Vauxhall envisaged. A revised version produced in 1970 for the final months of HB production was much better, and these are the most desirable version of the range, if you can find one. 566,391 Viva HBs were produced. Whilst the body design had improved after Vauxhall’s poor reputation with corrosion on previous models, and the HB had better underbody protection, UK cars were still prone to rusting through the front wings in the area behind the headlights where water, mud and salt could accumulate. This ongoing problem with salt on UK roads affected many makes and models, not just the Viva, but Vauxhall’s ongoing poor reputation for corrosion undoubtedly contributed to the development of bolt-on wings and wheel-arch liners in subsequent generations of family passenger cars. There are not many HB Vivas left which is perhaps why this rather nicely presented GT model, which has recently emerged from a complete restoration at Vauxhall’s Luton works was creating so much interest.

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The final car to bear the Victor name, and the last Vauxhall to be designed independently of Opel, was the FE Series, and this was launched in March 1972. This was a time when labour relations in the UK motor industry were poor and strikes were an almost constant feature, so there were very few launch cars and most of the publicity material used drawings rather than photos. The FE Series cars appeared substantially larger than their predecessors, but in fact were no wider and only 2 inches longer with much of the extra length accounted for by larger bumpers. Nevertheless, a higher cabin and improved packaging enabled the manufacturer to boast of 1.5 inches more leg room in the front and no less than 4 inches of extra leg room in the back, with virtually no loss of luggage capacity. Useful increases in headroom and shoulder-level cabin width were also achieved through the use of differently shaped side panels and windows. The engines were carried over from the FD range although enlarged to 1759 cc and 2279 cc. For a short period, the straight-six engine was used in the Ventora and 3300SL models, the latter effectively a Victor Estate with lesser trim than the luxury Ventora. Most cars in this class featured manual transmission and with the FE Vauxhall belatedly fell into line with their principal market competitors by including a four-speed gearbox – available only at extra cost on the old Victor FD – as standard equipment. The FE’s extra weight presumably made this development irresistible. The four-speed transmission used the same box and ratios across the range, from the 1759 cc Victor to the torquey 3294 cc Ventora-badged version. Contemporary road tests of the four-cylinder cars commented adversely on the wide gap – highlighted on the mountain roads included in the Portuguese route chosen for the car’s press launch – between second and third gears. Although the architecture of the suspension remained as before, numerous detailed modifications were made to counter criticism of the old model. Changes included an anti-roll bar as standard equipment on all but the entry-level models, and stiffer springs at the back, intended to compensate for the Victor’s tendency to understeer. At the front the springing remained soft by the standards of the time: the track was widened by 1.7 inches and wheel geometry modified to incorporate “anti-dive action”, improvements intended to address the Victor’s tendency to wallow, which by then was attracting criticism from performance-oriented commentators. The FE Victor shared its floorpan with the Opel Rekord but retained a distinct bodyshell, its own suspension and rack-and-pinion steering as opposed to the Rekord’s recirculating ball unit. The front end incorporated the then advanced detail of having the slim bumper bisect the grille, with a third of the grille and the side-lights (on quad headlamp models) below the bumper line. Despite the absence of shared body panels anywhere that they could be seen, detailed investigation disclosed that minor assemblies such as the door locks and the wiper mechanisms were shared with the Opel Rekord D. World energy crises, falling exports and an increasingly muddled image led to Vauxhall’s decline during the early 1970s, such that sales of the FE slumped to 55,000 units before it was transformed to the VX series in January 1976. The changes introduced then were intended to position the car more clearly in the range over the newly introduced, and more expensive Cavalier, with a more powerful 1800cc engine and upgraded trim being among the modifications made. In this guise, the VX Series lived on nearly another 3 years before finally being replaced by the Carlton in the autumn of 1978. Seen here is a 2300 example of the FE Victor.

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The HC Viva, one example of which was here, was mechanically the same as the HB but had more modern styling and greater interior space due to redesigned seating and positioning of bulkheads. It offered 2- and 4-door saloons and a fastback estate with the choice of either standard 1,159 cc, 90 tuned 1,159 cc or 1,600 cc overhead cam power. No 2.0 GT version was offered with the new range, although the 2.0 became the sole engine offering for Canada, where the HC became the Firenza, marketed by Pontiac/Buick dealers without the Vauxhall name. The cloned Envoy Epic was dropped as Chevrolet dealers now carried the domestic Chevrolet Vega. The HC was pulled from the Canadian market after two model years amidst consumer anger over corrosion and reliability issues. A class action lawsuit launched against General Motors of Canada by dissatisfied owners was not settled until the early 1980s. The American influence was still obvious on the design, with narrow horizontal rear lamp clusters, flat dashboard with a “letterbox” style speedometer, and a pronounced mid bonnet hump that was echoed in the front bumper. A coupé version called the Firenza was introduced in early 1971 to compete with the Ford Capri and forthcoming Morris Marina Coupé. It was available in deluxe and SL forms, with the latter sporting four headlights and finally resurrecting the missing 2.0 twin-carburettor engine from the HB Viva GT. The basic 1,159 cc engine was enlarged to 1,256 cc in late 1971 and with this the 90 version was removed from the line-up. The overhead cam engines were upgraded in early 1972, the 1.6 becoming a 1.8 and the 2.0 twin carburettor became a 2.3 (2,279 cc). At this time, the Viva 2300 SL and Firenza Sport SL did away with the letter-box speedometer and substituted an attractive seven-dial instrument pack. Firenza SLs had a two round-dial pack, though all other Vivas and Firenzas stuck with the original presentation. In September 1973, the Viva range was divided, the entry 1,256 cc models staying as Vivas, with an optional 1.8 litre engine if automatic transmission was chosen. The 1.8 and 2.3 litre models took on more luxurious trim and were rebadged as the Magnum. At the same time, the Firenza coupe was given a radical makeover with an aerodynamic nose and beefed up 2.3 litre twin carb engine mated to a ZF five-speed gearbox, turning it into the HP (High Performance) Firenza. The Viva was again revised in 1975, with trim levels becoming the E (for Economy), L and SL. The E was Vauxhall’s answer to the Ford Popular and was first offered as a promotional edition two-door coupe using surplus Firenza body shells, before becoming a permanent Viva model in two-door saloon form. It was the only Viva to still have the strip speedometer after this as the L and SL adopted the Firenza SL’s two round dial set up. As of the autumn of 1975 the 1800 engine was also upgraded, increasing power from 77 to 88 hp. For 1977, the SL was replaced by the GLS, essentially marrying the plusher Magnum trim and equipment with the base 1,256 cc pushrod ohv engine. These models all had the full seven dial instrument panel, velour seating and Rostyle wheels, among many other upgrades. Viva production was scaled down after the launch of the Chevette in spring 1975. Originally a three-door hatchback, the Chevette offered two- and four-door saloons and a three-door estate in 1976 that all usurped the Viva’s position as Vauxhall’s small car entry. The Chevette hatch was also sold as the Opel Kadett City, but the Viva remained on sale until the later part of 1979, with 640,863 cars having been made. The Viva was effectively replaced by the new Vauxhall Astra, a variant of the front-wheel-drive Opel Kadett. By that time it was dated in comparison with more modern rivals like the Volkswagen Golf.

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In 1973, Vauxhall acknowledged that their rather dull model range needed a makeover, and developed a radical version of the Firenza, known officially as the High Performance (HP) Firenza, but known colloquially as the “droopsnoot” after its dramatically styled aerodynamic nose. The nose was moulded from GRP, and featured two pairs of Cibié headlamps behind toughened glass covers. The overall look was somewhat reminiscent of the Renault Alpine A310, and used the same headlamp units. Several prototypes of the HP Firenza were considered with different types of front end treatment, requiring different degrees of change from the standard production front end, including cars known as Black Knight and Daytona, the latter for its resemblance to the Ferrari Daytona, a favourite of Wayne Cherry. At that time, the original flat-fronted Firenza model was rebadged as the Magnum coupé, and the name Firenza was used exclusively for the HP version. This car was an exciting styling departure for Vauxhall, and certainly created something of a buzz. The engine was the 2.3-litre variant of the OHC Slant Four engine, uprated to a very torquey 131 bhp using a variety of parts developed by Blydenstein Racing. It had twin 175 Stromberg carburettors, high-lift camshaft and free-flow tubular exhaust manifold. The car was restyled on the David Jones original by American designer Wayne Cherry and the result was an exceptionally low drag coefficient for its time. Suspension was uprated and lowered, brakes uprated, and a 5-speed ZF dog leg gearbox was installed, a much stronger unit than fitted to the standard model (though rather noisy). Another unusual and unique feature of the car was the alloy Avon Safety Wheels, which were designed to retain the tyre safely in the event of a puncture. This was the first car to use these wheels in production. All production cars were painted in the same colour – Silver Starfire, and featured a largely black interior with silver-grey cloth seats. An unusual interior feature of dubious utility was the passenger grab handle on the dash in place of the standard glovebox. The car was a design triumph for Vauxhall, but a marketing failure. The car was launched to much publicity in a special one-off race at Thruxton circuit in Hampshire, with top drivers of the day taking part including Gerry Marshall and Barry “Whizzo” Williams, who won the race. However, the fuel crisis of the time meant that suddenly it became very hard to sell gas-guzzling cars like this (even though the aerodynamics increased fuel economy greatly, reducing the power needed to attain its top speed by some 30 hp), and coupled with some production line difficulties in actually building the car meant that sales and delivery were slow, and eventually just 204 examples were built, far short of the 30,000 projected. This very low volume was obviously a disaster for Vauxhall, but ironically it has led to the car becoming a very collectible classic, thus ensuring its survival—some of the much more common production cars produced alongside it can be now harder to find. Celebrity owners of droopsnoot Firenzas are footballer Luther Blissett and former sports commentator Stuart Hall. The Firenza was also very successful in saloon car racing in the 1970s, especially in its Old Nail and Baby Bertha versions, piloted to great effect by Gerry Marshall. As well as the HP version, also to be seen here was the earlier car, which was effectively a coupe version of the HC Viva. In the autumn of 1973 these were rebranded as Magnum and offered with the 1800 and 2300cc engines. They never came close to generating the affection that was held by the Capri, their closest rival.

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This is a Chevette 2300 HS, the limited production car that was made in the late 1970s. The concept goes back to 1976, when at the instigation of new chairman Bob Price, Vauxhall decided to increase their profile in international rallying. They developed a rally version of the Chevette in conjunction with Blydenstein Racing, who ran Dealer Team Vauxhall, the nearest equivalent to a ‘works’ competition team that GM policy would allow. In order to compete in international rallying, the car had to be homologated; for Group 4, the class the HS was to compete in, this meant building 400 production vehicles for public sale. Vauxhall created a far more powerful Chevette variant by fitting the 2.3 litre Slant Four engine, using a sixteen valve cylinder head which Vauxhall was developing. Fitted with two Stromberg carburettors the engine developed 135 bhp. Suspension and rear axle were from the Opel Kadett C GT/E and the gearbox was a Getrag 5-speed. Chevrolet Vega Alloy wheels (similar in appearance to the Avon wheels used on the droopsnoot Firenza) were used, as well as a newly developed glass-reinforced plastic air dam. The result was a very fast and well handling, if rather unrefined, road car. Like the Droopsnoot Firenza, the HS was available only in silver, with red highlighting and a bright red, black and tartan interior; though (partly to help sell unsold vehicles) some cars were repainted in other colours, such as the black Mamos Garage HS-X. The HS became a great success as a rally car, clocking up notable wins for drivers such as Pentti Airikkala and Tony Pond. It was a challenge to the most successful rally car of the time, the Ford Escort, winning the British Open Rally Championship for Drivers in 1979 and for manufacturers in 1981. It was also successful in other national rally championships, such as Belgium’s. To keep the rally car competitive into the 1980s an evolution version, the Chevette HSR, was developed which was successful for several more years. The modified cars featured glass reinforced plastic (fibreglass) front and rear wings, spoiler, bonnet and tailgate (giving the HSR the nickname ‘Plastic Fantastic’), revised suspension (particularly at the rear, where extra suspension links were fitted), and other minor changes. Group 4 evolution required a production run of 50 cars incorporating the new modifications; these were made by rebuilding unsold HSs and by modifying customers’ vehicles. However, the merger of the Vauxhall and Opel marketing departments resulted in Dealer Team Vauxhall and Dealer Opel Team (DOT) joining to form GM Dealer Sport (GMDS); with the Chevette soon to be obsolete, Opel were able to force the cancellation of the HSR rally programme in favour of the Manta 400.

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The Cavalier was a critical model for Vauxhall, who had been trailing Ford and BL in the sales charts in the all important home market for some time. Much of the reason for that is because they lacked a car to compete directly against the market-leading Ford Cortina, their rival, the Vauxhall Victor having grown in size with every model update marking it more of a Granada competitor, a size up. The Cortina class was crucial, as the United Kingdom tax system meant that sales to company car fleets comprised a larger proportion of the overall market – especially for middle-weight saloons – than elsewhere in Europe. It was dominated by the Cortina, which regularly achieved over 10% of the total market and yet when Cortina Mk II had been replaced by the Ford Cortina Mk III in 1970, in the eyes of the all important company car fleet managers, the newer Cortina never quite matched the earlier car for reliability, notably in respect of problems with its cable clutch and with camshaft wear in the 1.6 and 2.0 litre ohc units. With alternatives in a market which only really wanted “British” cars, and traditionally engineered ones at that, limited to the Morris Marina, there was a clear need for some competition, which meant that the market should have been particularly receptive to Vauxhall’s new Cortina challenger. There was a slight problem that the new car was actually made in Belgium, but that objection was pushed to one side by many when they saw this smartly styled car. Launched with a choice of 1596 and 1,896 cc engines, the Cavalier was a restyled version of the second generation German Opel Ascona, offered as a two and four-door saloon, and with a two-door booted coupé body, withe coupe only available with the larger engine, The Ascona/Cavalier was built on what GM called the U-car platform. Whilst the Cavalier was originally intended to have its own bodywork, it ended up with the front of an Opel Manta B model and the rearend of an Opel Ascona B model, to keep costs down. A different nose, designed by Wayne Cherry, was the only obvious styling feature to set the Vauxhall apart. Although van, pick-up and estate versions were also on the drawing board, these never made production and nor did the prototype that was built using the 2.3 litre Vauxhall Slant-4 engine, planned for use in a high performance variant, which meant that the larger engined Cavaliers were exclusively powered by the Opel CIH engine. The Cavalier did not replace the larger Victor, which remained in production until 1978, as the VX1800/VX2000, With growing demand, and also a desire to answer the “but it is not British built” objection, Vauxhall started to produce the Cavalier in the UK, with the first Cavalier to be assembled at Vauxhall’s Luton plant being driven off the production line by Eric Fountain, Vauxhall’s manufacturing director, on 26 August 1977, after which the 1256 cc version, assembled at Luton and using engine and transmission already familiar to Viva 1300 owners, broadened the range. At that stage the 1584 cc Cavalier and the 1897 cc which had joined it were still being imported from Belgium, but in due course these, too, started to emerge from the Luton production plant. The range was revised in 1978, when the 1.9 litre engine was enlarged to 2 litres and a few weeks later, a three-door hatchback known as the Sports hatch (also seen on the Manta) was added to the range. Apart from minor updates, that was it until the model was replaced in the autumn of 1981 by the new front wheel drive J-car, but there was a new trim added to the range in 1980, the LS, and there was a rare survivor of that on show here. The original Cavalier was a relatively strong seller in Britain, even though it never quite matched the runaway sales success of the Ford Cortina, or even the sales figures attained by British Leyland’s Morris Marina (which sold well throughout the 1970s despite an adverse reputation) but it at least managed to help Vauxhall regain lost ground in a market sector where it had declined during the first half of the 1970s as Victor sales slumped. Nearly 250,000 were sold but there are few survivors of any type of the Mark 1, so it was nice to see this one here.

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The Royale Coupe was a rebadged version of the Opel Senator and Monza that was offered in the UK from 1978 to 1983 alongside the Opel models, after which time the Royale name was dropped. The Opel Monza is an executive fastback coupe produced by the German automaker Opel from 1978 to 1986. The Monza was planned as a successor for the Commodore Coupé. In the late 1970s the Commodore C model was made as a two-door version (as was the Rekord E1), but still as a sedan type car. The first model of the Commodore the “A” series had a regular coupé in the production line and Opel desired to make a newer version of their large luxury coupé. Work began in 1976 and in 1978 the first Monzas were available to buy. The cars to compete with would be the Mercedes-Benz C123 and later the Mercedes-Benz C124 and the BMW 6 Series (E24) models (coupe models), and any other large luxury coupe. But what Opel hadn’t realized was that the old ways were too old. The car was big without being hugely luxurious. This did not mean that the Monza was not comfortable. There was plenty of space inside the car, and the enormous seats left you with a feeling of sitting in a much more upmarket brand than Opel. The internals consisted of parts mainly borrowed from the Rekord E1 and later the E2, which meant cloth seats, and much plastic on the dashboard and inner doors. Even the rev counter and the tachometer was taken directly from the Rekord E models, so that when you sat in one, the feeling was not that you drove a Monza, but more that you where driving a Rekord. If that wasn’t enough trouble for Opel, they also experienced gearbox problems. The engine range for the Monza A1 was the 3.0S, the 2.8S, the newly developed 3.0E and later the 2.5E (the 3.0 had 180 bhp and 248 Nm with fuel injection), gave a wide range. The three-speed Borg Warner automatic transmission from the Commodore range needed to be modified to cope with the new and improved power outputs. Opel’s own four-speed manual gearboxes were not up to the job and, instead of putting in a more modern five-speed manual gearbox, Opel turned to gearbox and transmission producer Getrag, and installed the Getrag 264 four-speed manual gearbox in the early Monzas. But when people bought a big, luxurious coupé they wanted modern products as well, and Opel obliged, as soon the Getrag 240 (for the 2.5 engines) and the Getrag 265 (for the 3.0E), both 5-speed manual gearboxes, replaced the old 4-speed gearbox. The Monza, however, sharing the same layout as the Senator A1, had very good driving abilities. It handled quite well, thanks to the newly developed MacPherson strut system for the front of the car, as used on the Rekord E1 and E2, and the new (previously Opel had always used a non-independent rear axle on the Rekord E1 and E2, Manta, Ascona etc.) independent rear suspension gave the car soft, yet firm and capable, driving characteristics and excellent stability for such a big car. The engine range, however non-economical, was also very good, and few problems with the extremely reliable engines, even today, some 30 years later. The six-cylinder engines were all of the CIH type (camshaft in head) and were in reality a 2.0-litre straight four with just two more cylinders. Many parts on the engine, such as the water pump and drive train, are in fact the same parts as used on the four-cylinder version. This meant that this was an engine not only tested for many years in the Commodore, Admiral and Diplomat range, but also very reliable. Although the first generation of 3.0E engines in the Monza A1 had overheating problems when standing still, this could easily be fixed by fitting an oil-cooler. When Opel realized that the public disliked the Rekord interior, they introduced the “C” package. The “C” cars were fitted with extra instruments (oil pressure, voltmeter etc.) and the interior was either red, dark blue, green, or brown. As all parts of the interior were coloured, it seemed more luxurious than it did previously. The A1 also came with a sports package or “S” package. The cars all where marked as “S” models on the front wings, and came with 15-inch Ronal alloy wheels and a 45% limited slip differential. However, being a coupe, it was rather large, and four well-sized adults had plenty of space. Even the boot was extremely large, and if that was not enough people had the possibility to flip down the rear seats to make even more space. The A1 was not a great hit at the customers even though it was fairly cheap to buy, the class of the car taken in consideration, and the fact that it actually got some good reviews by the press. With the 3.0-litre engine, the Monza was at that time the fastest car Opel had ever built. Being capable of speeds as high as 215 km/h, and the 0–100 km/h mark went in just 8.5 seconds. In 1982, the Monza, Rekord and Senator all got a face-lift and were named the A2 (E2 for the Rekord)

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The first Astra GTE, as seen here, was only produced for a little over a year, as it joined the range of GM’s front wheel drive T Cars in mid 1983, some 4 years after the rest of the range had been launched. It was the General’s response to the popularity of VW’s Golf GTi and Ford’s Escort XR3i and with a 115 bhp 1.8 litre fuel injected engine, it went as well as it looked.

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The Lotus Carlton (other names include Vauxhall Lotus Carlton, Lotus Omega and Opel Lotus Omega) is a Vauxhall Carlton/Opel Omega A saloon upgraded by Lotus to be a 177 mph sports saloon with acceleration to equal contemporary supercars. Like all Lotus vehicles, it was given a type designation—Type 104 in this case. The external differences were minimal with the addition of a rear spoiler, vents on the bonnet, Lotus badges on the front wings and bootlid, a bodykit and considerably wider wheel arches distinguishing it from a standard Carlton/Omega. The car was only sold in one colour, a shade called Imperial Green, a very dark green that in anything but direct light appears black. Performance modifications started with an upgraded engine, which was enhanced by Lotus from the standard Opel 2,969 cc 24v straight six unit (used in the GSi). The engine was enlarged to a capacity of 3,615 cc Lotus then added Garrett AiResearch T25 twin-turbochargers, which provide up to 0.7 bar (10 psi) of boost from about 1500 rpm. The original distributor ignition system of the engine was replaced with a three-coil wasted spark system. The distributor drive was re-purposed as a water pump drive for the water-air intercooler circuit. The intercooler itself is manufactured by Behr and is capable of reducing the temperature of the compressed charge from 120 °C to 60 °C. In addition to fitting two turbochargers and an intercooler system, Lotus directed a number of engineering changes to the engine so that it would perform reliably with the higher power output. To cope with the higher cylinder pressures (about 95 bar (9,500 kPa)), the external webbing on the engine block was reinforced. The crankshaft was replaced as well; early development crankshafts were machined from billet steel in Italy, but the production units were forged by Opel and sent to Maschinenfabrik Alfing Kessler for machining. The cylinder head was left mostly the same as the 4 valves per cylinder from the Opel Omega, although the combustion chamber was milled to reduce the static compression ratio to 8.2:1 (from 10.0:1). The engine was fitted with forged slipper pistons produced by Mahle. Piston connecting rods were replaced with new units made to an original Lotus design. The same ZF 6-speed manual transmission as fitted to a contemporary Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 was used to transfer this power to the rear wheels via a rear limited-slip differential from the V8 Holden Commodore. The multi-link suspension of the Omega, already praised by the automotive press, was modified by Lotus for better high-speed stability and improved handling dynamics. To combat the problem of significant camber change (seen with the car at high speed and when fully laden), the self-levelling suspension from the Opel Senator was fitted. Also borrowed from the Senator was the Servotronic power steering system, which provides full power assist at parking speeds, and reduces the power assist as the road speed increases. The Lotus engineers would have preferred using a rack and pinion steering arrangement, but cost and space constraints limited them to the worm-and-roller arrangement. The Lotus Carlton produced 377 bhp at 5,200 rpm and 419 lb⋅ft (568 N⋅m) at 4,200 rpm of torque, of which 350 lb⋅ft (470 N⋅m) was available from 2000 rpm. The car is capable of 0–60 mph in 5.2 seconds and achieve 0–100-0 mph in less than 17 seconds. Tall gearing allows it to achieve approximately 55 mph in first gear. The Lotus Carlton/Omega held the title of the second fastest four-door saloon car for some years, after Alpina B10 Bi-Turbo. The Carltons/Omegas were a favourite target of joyriders and other thieves. This posed a problem for the police, who had nothing quicker than the 24V Senator Bs. Because the Carlton/Omega could equal or exceed the performance of many contemporary sports cars while also carrying four passengers, it generated some controversy among the automotive and general press. Bob Murray, then editor of Autocar magazine, wrote: “Nobody buying this car could possibly argue he either needs or will be able to use a top whack which is claimed to be around 180 mph.” Murray went on to suggest that Vauxhall should follow the example set by German automakers (who had begun electronically limiting the top speed of their high-performance cars to 155 mph.) This sentiment was picked up by newspapers and talk radio stations, who would interview people calling for the car’s ban. Ultimately, the Opel executives associated with the project voted unanimously to not restrict the car’s top speed, and it was released to acclaim from the motoring press. Production of the Lotus Carlton/Omega began in 1990, four years after the original Omega went on sale. Opel had hoped to build 1,100 cars in total, but owing to the recession of the early 1990s, the £48,000 cars were not selling as well as anticipated and production at Lotus was halted in December 1992. Only 950 cars were completed: 320 Carltons and 630 Omegas, 150 short of the original target. The cars are now starting to become modern classics as low-mileage, well-looked-after examples become rare.

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Getting rare now is the Calibra, a model that GM introduced to counter the Japanese sports coupés of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Launched in 1989, it employed the running gear of the first generation Opel Vectra, which had been launched a year earlier in 1988. Calibra production was based in the Opel factory in Rüsselsheim, Germany, and the Valmet Automotive factory in Uusikaupunki, Finland, where production was consolidated in November 1995. Known in Europe as the Opel Calibra and as a Vauxhall in the UK, it was also marketed as the Chevrolet Calibra in South America and the Holden Calibra in Australia and New Zealand. The Calibra was styled by GM’s designer Wayne Cherry and the German designer, Erhard Schnell. and when launched, it was the most aerodynamic production car in the world, with a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.26. It remained the most aerodynamic mass production car for the next 10 years, until the Honda Insight, along with the Audi A2, were launched both in 1999, with a Cd of 0.25, though the more powerful 16V, V6, 4×4 and turbo models had a worse Cd of 0.29, due to changes in their cooling system, underbody, use of spoked wheels and glass detail. As a front-wheel drive coupé based on the Vectra A chassis, its ride and handling were not significantly better than that of the large family car from which it grew. The 4WD turbo version of the car, which had independent rear suspension, featured the rear axle of the Opel Omega A with some minor alterations to it. Power was initially from 2.0 litre 8-valve 115 bhp and a Cosworth designed 16-valve fuel-injected 150 bhp four-cylinder redtop petrol engines. In 1992 a turbocharged 2.0 litre 16 valve 204 bhp engine was added to the range. With four-wheel drive, a six-speed Getrag manual transmission and a claimed top speed of 152 mph, this flagship model finally gave the Calibra the dynamics to match its looks. The Turbo model was also notable for the 5-stud wheel hubs and the extreme negative camber of its rear wheels, which is apparent even from a cursory visual inspection. In 1993 a 167 hp 2.5 litre V6 (was introduced. Available with both manual and automatic transmissions, the V6 was not as fast as the Turbo, but was rather more civilised, and proved to be more reliable as car than the complex four-wheel drive model. 1995 saw the introduction of the X20XEV Ecotec engine, a new version of the classic C20XE 16-valve or “red top” engine. This marked a reduction in power from 150 bhp to 136 bhp for the 16-valve version, although the Turbo continued with the older C20LET. Throughout the production run, several special edition models were launched. This began with the 1993 SE1, and ran through to the SE9 in 1997. These limited run editions had often unique aspects. For example, solar yellow paint on the SE2, or “Icelandic” blue on the SE6. Neither colours were found on any other Calibra. In September 1995, the Vectra A was replaced, but Calibra production continued until 1997. During its lifetime, the Calibra was much more popular in Europe, and outsold its nearest rival, the Ford Probe, which was considered to be underpowered, and very American for most European drivers, but in the UK, it failed to outsell the Rover 200 Coupé, which offered comparable performance, but without 4WD in the top–of–the–range models.

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Founded in 1996, Triple Eight Racing has played a major part of the British Motor Racing scene winning over 130 races in various championships and is probably best known for securing both Driver’s and Manufacturer’s titles in the British Touring Car Championship. The driver line-up for its début BTCC year was Derek Warwick and John Cleland in the legendary Vectra and their crowd-pleasing antics still regularly appear on YouTube clips. However, in 2001 the Vectra was replaced by the Astra Coupé and in 2002 the Astra became the car to beat in the BTCC with drivers Yvan Muller and James Thompson alongside Matt Neal in the sister “egg-sport” car. Thompson eventually won the championship with Muller and Neal enjoying successes and the Astra became one, if not the, most successful car in BTCC history. Dovetailing neatly with their other motorsport projects, Triple Eight has developed a range of performance road cars including Vauxhall’s fastest ever selling vehicle, the Astra, an achievement which the manufacturer celebrated by commissioning 100 bespoke ‘Triple Eight’ Astra T8 Coupés. A range of modifications were made to the interior, exterior bodywork and chassis of the standard Astra Coupé T8 Turbo (on which the 888 is based). The engine, however, is unchanged – which means 192 PS at 5400 rpm and 250Nm of torque between 1950-5300 rpm from the smooth, 2.0-litre, 16v turbo unit. To focus the already sharp handling, the Astra 888 Coupe was lowered and sat on Eibach springs and dampers. Seventeen-inch ‘OZ Racing’ alloy wheels were fitted, shod with 235/40 Michelin Pilot Sport tyres compared to the standard cars 215 width tyres and the brakes featured an uprated Ferodo pad material, giving improved pedal feel. The Vauxhall Astra 888 Turbo’s standard interior was also given quite a makeover, including Sparco front sports seats finished in blue & black Alcantara. The same blue Alcantara is also used on the handbrake gaiter and gear change gaiter, while the alloy handbrake lever and alloy gear knob are unique 888 designs. The revised steering wheel trim is finished in blue Alcantara and black leather and the pedals feature 888 alloy extensions with the addition of a unique 888 alloy footrest. Finally, the centre console which houses the multi-function driver information display, ventilation controls and the audio system (CCR 600 stereo radio/cassette Player + four-disc CD autochanger in glovebox) is colour coded to match the Europa Blue exterior. On the outside, the car wears a unique 888 body-kit, comprising a front bumper splitter, rear wing, side skirts and wheel arch extensions to mirror those used on the BTCC race car. All Astra Coupe 888s were finished in Europa Blue ‘pearlescent’ paint. With proper enhancement to its driving abilities and a gutsy 187bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, this is a real ‘touring car for the road’. Writing about the car, and its 0-60mph time of 7.0 seconds, ‘Auto Express’ magazine stated: “With minimal turbo lag and the rasp of a sports exhaust behind you it feels even faster, though, and the punchy short-shift gearbox makes light work of building speed. The steering has been tightened, while uprated springs and dampers combine with the tarmac-scraping ride height to pin the 888 flat and balance it perfectly through the corners.”

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The VX220 is the only true sports car that the marque has produced in the last 90 years. Quite unlike any Vauxhall that had ever come before it, the VX220 was the result of a deal between GM and Lotus, struck to generate enough funding for the latter to be able to develop a replacement for their Elise model, something forced on them owing to changes in European crash safety regulations for the 2000 model year. Lotus agreed to develop and produce a 2 seater sports car for GM, on the new Series 2 Elise chassis, with a concept version of the proposed GM model being shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999. Although the body styling was different, clearly the economies would only work if as much else could be shared, and that presented a challenge as it was planned to use a 1.8-litre Toyota engine, similar to that found in the Toyota Celica, in the second generation Elise, whereas the GM cars clearly had to use a GM engine, namely the 2.2-litre GM Ecotec engine from the Astra. As neither engine had been used in the original Elise, which had been fitted with a 1.8-litre Rover K-Series engine, this simply became one of the many design challenges .In order to accommodate the production of the new cars, Lotus expanded its Hethel factory to a capacity of 10,000 cars, with around 3,500 slots allocated to Speedster production. Production of the Speedster commenced in 2000. The car was hailed by the motoring press as a great drivers’ car and won several accolades, including Top Gear’s Car of the Year in 2003. The lesser naturally aspirated 2.2 version was considered easier to drive than the potent Turbo model, and some journalists suggested that the Opel/Vauxhall car was better value for money than the Lotus, among them one Jeremy Clarkson in his 2003 DVD Shoot Out. However, the market did not really agree, and sales were limited. The car was deleted in 2005, with no successor.

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The European version of the Volt, the Opel Ampera (known as the Vauxhall Ampera in the United Kingdom),was unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in March 2009 and also was exhibited at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show. Opel developed the battery control modules for the Ampera at the Opel Alternative Propulsion Center Europe in Mainz-Kastel, Germany. The production version of the Ampera was unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. The Ampera was assembled at the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant, Michigan. The main differences between the Volt and the Ampera are in their styling. The Ampera has a distinctive front and rear fascia, with a large cut-out in the rear bumper. The Opel Ampera features more stylized alloy wheels as standard, and the side skirts are body-colored rather than black. In the inside there are only minor differences and both versions share the same exact powertrain and battery pack. A key operational difference was that the Ampera has four drive modes, one more than the 2011/12 model year Volt. The additional option is City Mode, which adapts battery management to the needs of commuter travel. City mode or “battery hold” engages the range-extender immediately, allowing to save the energy currently stored in the battery, and when switched off, the range-extender stops and the Ampera is then able to use the energy saved in the battery for pure electric driving, for example for traveling urban areas or restricted zones, such as the European low emission zones or to allow the Ampera to qualify for an exemption of the London congestion charge The 2013 model year Volt included the “Hold Drive” button to allow drivers to conserve battery-pack energy for use at a particular time of their choice. General Motors production target for 2012 was to manufacture 10,000 Amperas for sale in Europe, 6,000 destined for Opel and 4,000 for Vauxhall in the UK, plus an additional 2,000 Volts were to be made available for the region. The carmaker targeted the Ampera for business fleet market and local government agencies, where Opel has a strong customer base, while the Volt is aimed at retail customers. According to Opel, by June 2011 around 5,000 customers across Europe had reserved an Ampera, with fleet or business customers representing 60% of reservations, and a total of 7,000 orders were received by March 2012, with Benelux, Germany, and the United Kingdom as the top markets in terms of orders. The first deliveries of the Chevrolet Volt in Europe took place on 30 November 2011, to the U.S. Embassy in France. Distribution of the Opel Ampera to dealerships began in December 2011, but deliveries to customers were delayed until February 2012 because Opel decided to wait until the NHTSA completed its investigation of the Volt’s battery fire risk after a crash. Since May 2012 the Vauxhall Ampera is available through the Zipcar carsharing club in London, Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford. The Opel/Vauxhall Ampera was Europe’s top selling plug-in electric car in 2012 with 5,268 units and captured a 21.5% market share of the region’s plug-in electric passenger car segment. As of October 2013, the Ampera held a market share of almost 10% of European registration of plug-in electric cars since 2011. The market share in the Netherlands was 40% and 10% in Germany. Ampera sales fell 40% in 2013 to 3,184 cars, and within the plug-in hybrid segment, the Ampera was surpassed in 2013 by the Mitsubishi Outlander P-HEV (8,197), Volvo V60 plug-in (7,437), and the Prius plug-in (4,314). In 2013 the Ampera ranked eighth among Europe’s top selling plug-in electric vehicles, and its market share fell to about 5%. During the first five months of 2014, only 332 units had been sold, down 67% from the same period in 2013. In July 2014, Opel announced that due to the slowdown in sales, they would discontinue the Ampera after the second generation Volt launch—and that between 2014 and 2018, they plan to introduce a successor electric vehicle in Europe. Ampera sales totalled 939 units in 2014, and only 215 units during the first nine months of 2015. As of June 2016, Opel/Vauxhall Ampera sales totalled just over 10,000 units since 2011, with the Netherlands as the leading market with 5,031 Amperas registered, followed by Germany with 1,542 units, and the UK with 1,250 units registered by the end of June 2015. The Netherlands is also the top selling Volt market in Europe with 1,062 units registered through December 2014, out of about 1,750 Volts sold through 2014.

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Final Vauxhall here was an example of the last generation VXR8 GTS, the big-engined bruiser that is imported form Australia, with its Holden badges replaced by something more recognisable by the British buying public. Sales remained minimal, even though the latest cars boast a much improved interior as we as an unbeatable performance/£ratio, and they ceased in early 2019 with the end of Australian production. This particular car was featured extensively in the motoring press as a sort of swan-song before taking its place in the collection.

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One of the most significant changes to be included in the revamp of the museum was the moving of the main entrance so it is somewhat to the left of where it was, Instead of it being directly ahead of you as you arrive on site from the long approach road, it is now very much to the left. The building is essentially a semi-circle in shape, and this change has now probably created more space for some of the displays. After you pass the cashier’s desk, ticket duly bought, you are in what is called the Welcome Gallery, and there are half a dozen cars in this area, with a dividing wall meaning that you have to pass them all and go round the corner of the wall to see the rest of the museum, which just adds to the anticipation of what is to come. The cars that were on show had all been selected for their historic significance and were pretty varied.

Dating from 1980 is this Bedford CF Lucas Electric Drive, which was Prince Phillip’s electric powered personal transport for use in London. From 1968 for over a decade Lucas experimented with electrical vehicles. This vehicle was an electric ‘limousine’ built for HRH Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh following a tour of the Lucas factory in November 1977.

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This 1925 MG is known as ‘Old Number One’. Old Number One was not actually the very first MG of all but was the first sports car to bear the name. It was a one-off built by Cecil Kimber for the 1925 Land’s End Trial, and was later sold off but bought back by MG in the early 1930s.

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HUE166 is now a world-famous Land Rover. and these days it looks immaculate, which is quite an achievement as until its discovery and rescue in 2016, it had spent 20 years rotting in a Welsh field. It is a hugely significant vehicle as this is the prototype, which appeared at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show, launching the iconic 4×4 vehicle. Huey – given the name because it bore the registration number HUE 166 – was designed by car giant Rover’s then-technical chief, Maurice Wilks, who owned a farm at Red Wharf Bay in 1947. When found, it had been missing for 63 years, but more of its history has now come to light. It was built in 1948 with left hand drive and listed as “Experimental” on the logbook and record of sale and featured a number of unique features that did not go into mass production such as thicker aluminium alloy body panels, a galvanised chassis and a removable rear tub. Later that year it was upgraded with new production parts by engineers and converted to current right hand drive setup. It was registered on 25 June 1955 with registration SNX 910. In the 1960s it had a number of owners in the Midlands. It was last on the road in the 1960s, after which it spent 20 years in a field being used as a static power source. In 1988 it was bought as a restoration project by someone living near Solihull in the West Midlands, where it had been produced. But then it was forgotten again and spent years “languishing” in the owner’s back garden, Jaguar Land Rover said, until its “surprise discovery” in 2016.

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Another well known car, this is the first Morris Mini Minor off the line in Cowley in April 1959. The first Mini rolled of the production line on 26:08:1959, the first models were marketed under two names, the Austin Seven and the Morris Mini-Minor. The Austin Mini name was first used domestically in 1961 The car was designed under project number ADO15 by Alec Issigonis who had recently been recruited back from Alvis to lead the design team. Using the existing BMC A series engine mounted transversely with the engine oil lubricated transmission in the sump, and drive to the front wheels with the radiator mounted at the side of the engine. The suspension system was designed by Dr. Alex Moulton using rubber cones instead of springs, built into a sub-frames. In 1964 the suspension of the cars were replaced by another Akex Moulton design, the hydrolastic system, The new suspension gave a softer ride but also added to the production costs and in 1971 the original suspension reappeared. 621 AOK was the first Morris badged Mini Minor, leaving the Cowley production line on the 8th May 1959. For a while it was used as the companies press car and has always been retained and maintained by Morris before becoming a part of the BMC Heritage Collection.

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This particular car is one of three left hand drive cars exported to the USA, and was delivered to Daimler’s agent in New York, Fergus Motors, in June 1950. The original owner was James Melton, “America’s Favorite Tenor” an opera singer and renowned antique car collector. He displayed 55 of his collection of almost 100 cars, at The Melton Auto Museum opened in Norwalk, Connecticut. The collection moved from Norwalk in 1953 to his new Autorama Museum in Hypoluxo, Florida. According to the blog of James Melton’s daughter, Margo Melton Nutt the green Goddess was instrumental in launching James Melton’s TV career. “In the winter of 1951, Henry Ford II admired the James Melton Green Goddess when it was parked on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, chatted with my father, and ended up taking a cruise on our yacht. He and my father made a handshake deal for a television variety show to be sponsored by the Ford Motor Company and hosted by James Melton. The show (Ford Festival) debuted in April 1951 and went off the air in July 1952. So that car was instrumental in launching my father’s TV career.” After James Melton’s death in 1961 his collection was sold off and the Green Goddess found its way into the private Kughn collection in Detroit. It remained there until 2000 when it was acquired by the Ford Motor Company for display in their World Headquarters (at that time Ford owned the Jaguar Car company- owners of the Daimler brand). The DE36 was the largest model in Daimler’s post-war range and was the last Daimler to be fitted with a straight-eight engine, of 5,460 cc. Launched in 1945 the car was intended for limousine coachwork, and was supplied by Daimler in chassis form, with bodies available from several coachbuilders, including Hooper. Examples of the DE36 were supplied for the use of HM King George VI, both as state cars, and for the Royal tours abroad. By the time production ceased in 1953, 215 chassis of this type had been built. Apart from the formal types of bodywork, a few DE36s were also made with bodies intended for the owner driver. In the first post-war motor show at Earls Court in London in 1948, Hooper showed a remarkable five-seater drophead coupe with streamlined bodywork. The coachwork was painted jade green with green-piped, beige leather interior – the car became known as the ‘Green Goddess’ and was later used by Sir Bernard Docker, the chairman of the BSA Group to which Daimler belonged. His wife Lady Norah inspired the extravagantly finished ‘Docker Daimlers’, two of which were also built on the DE36 chassis: the The Gold Car and Blue Clover. A price of £7,000 including Purchase Tax was quoted for the ‘Green Goddess’, although the car was described as an export model. Over the next two years, a further six cars of this type were built, including the three left- hand drive ones which were exported to the USA. This car was transferred to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and arrived back home in Coventry in February 2002. After some repair and restoration work it was moved to the British Motor Museum at Gaydon in February 2017 and put on display in the Collections Centre. Four or five other survivors of this model are known, most of which are in the USA.

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MG re-entered the sports car market in 1995 with the launch of the MGF Two versions of this mid-engined and affordable rival to the Mazda MX5 were offered: both of which used the 1.8 litre K-Series 16-valve engine. The cheaper of the two put out 118 hp and the more costly VVC model (by dint of its variable valve control) had 143 hp. Rover Special Projects had overseen the development of the F’s design and before finalising the styling bought-in outside contractors to determine the most appropriate mechanical configuration for the new car. Steve Harper of MGA Developments produced the initial design concept in January 1991 (inspired by the Jaguar XJR-15 and the Ferrari 250LM), before Rover’s in house design team refined the concept under the leadership of Gerry McGovern. The MGF used the Hydragas suspension, a system employing interconnected fluid and gas displacers, which gave the car a surprisingly compliant ride and which could be tuned to provide excellent handling characteristics. The MG F quickly shot to the top of the affordable sports car charts in Britain and remained there until the introduction of the MG TF in 2002. The MG F underwent a facelift in Autumn of 1999 which gave the car a revised interior as well as styling tweaks and fresh alloy wheels designs. There was also the introduction of a base 1.6 version and a more powerful 160 hp variant called the Trophy 160, which had a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds. It was only produced for a limited time. An automatic version with a CVT called the Steptronic was also introduced. A comprehensive update in 2002 resulted in the MG TF, named after the MG TF Midget of the 1950s. Based upon the MG F platform but heavily redesigned and re-engineered, the most significant mechanical changes were the abandonment of Hydragas suspension in favour of conventional coil springs, the new design of the air-induction system that along with new camshafts produces more power than in MG F engines, and the torsional stiffness of the body increased by 20%. Various cosmetic changes included a revised grille, redesigned front headlights, bumpers, side air-intake grills and changes to the rear boot,. The car continued to sell well. Production was suspended when MG-Rover went out of business, but resumed again in 2007 when Nanjing built a number more.



This part of the museum was not changed during the latest revamp. The Time Road is around the outer edge of the museum, and is two cars wide, with an array of cars displayed in chronological order, starting with the dawn of motoring and ending with the sort of cars that were on the roads in the 1980s. Some of the cars from the collection seem to be pretty much a permanent fixture in this display, whereas others get swapped in and out. Although the majority of the cars showcased here are from marques that ultimately ended up in the British Leyland empire, some of them, especially the more recent ones, are from other British marques that played their part in the evolution of the car and our motoring heritage.


This is the Royal Riley of 1899. By the late 19th century the Riley family had interests in Coventrys weaving industry, but William Riley turned to the manufacture of bicycles forming the Riley Cycle Company in 1986. One of his sons Percy designed a one off four wheeled motor car in 1898, but the company’s initial response to the invention of motor vehicles came the motorised cycle rather than a motor car, This 3.5hp tricycle was displayed at the 1899 Cycle Show, inspired by the French De Dion Bouton tricycles. Its engine is one of the De Dion type, manufactured under licence by the Cudell company of Aachen, Germany. Riley manufactured the tricycle for the next two or three years along with pedal. motor cycles and the quadricycle. This is the oldest known surviving Riley motor vehicle, discovered in a derelict condition in 1955 by Sqd. Leader H A Knight who restored it to working condition.


This 1899 Wolseley 3½hp Voiturette was the third model Wolseley made by Herbert Austin who later left the company to form his own business, Austin Cars. It has a single cylinder, 1300cc engine producing 4 bhp and had a top speed of 20mph (32km/h) – quite fast in its day.


A couple of years younger is this Wolseley 10 hp Tonneau of 1901. In 1901 Wolseley now under the control of Vickers, changed its name from The Wolseley Sheep Shearing Company to The Wolseley Tool and Motor Company, moving to Adderly Park, Birmingham. Rapidly becoming on of the largest British car producers of the day, with an output of 327 vehicles in the 1901 calendar. By 1914, the outbreak of WW1 they were market leaders delivering 3000 vehicles a year. The 10hp Tonneau was announced in 1901 with options of solid or pneumatic tyres and a sprag brake to stop it rolling backwards on hills. The engine was a horizontal twin cylinder designed by Herbert Austin. This car has a body constructed by Anne Cowburn a Manchester coachbuilder, long established as a horse drawn carriage builder and harness manufacturer in 1779.


This is an Albion A1 Dog Cart from 1902. The car manufacturing at Albion was relatively short lived (1900-15). The first car of 1900 was a rustic-looking dogcart made of varnished wood, powered by a flat-twin 8hp engine with gear-change by “Patent Combination Clutches” and solid tyres. Not a model made that have em queueing round the block today, the Dogcart took its name from a type of horse drawn carriage that would have an enclosed space for under the seat. Which in the case of this Albion was were the engine was housed. Though rather dated by 1900, the Albion Dogcart was still popular in its native Scotland. The occupants sat back to back and this style of seating was known as dos-a-dos, from the French back to back (also a phrase used in square dancing). The Albion’s engine is an 8hp horizontally opposed water cooled twin cylinder, steering was originally by a tiller but converted to a steering wheel early in its life.It also uses solid tyres on carriage type wheels.


Dating from 1904, this Rover 8hp is the oldest surviving Rover car known. Rover had been in business manufacturing cycles and motorcycles for sevral decades as the Rover Cycle Company before launching this their first model in 1904. The 8hp was designed by Edmund Lewis and featured an unconventional backbone chassis frame with transverse leaf springs. Early models, including this car, had cable and bobbin steering and a steering column gear selecter, but these were soon replaced by worm drive steering and a more conventional right hand gear lever. A foot pedal allowed compression of the engine to assist braking. The car had a healthy power to weight ratio, weighing in at just 10’5 cwt (533kg) and a relatively powerful engine for its size. A Rover 8hp was the first car to driven across Europe to Constantinople (cue Frank Sinatra – Nobody knows while Constantinople got the works, aint nobody’s business but the Turks).

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Although the Austin car company was founded in 1905, it wasn’t until 1907 that Herbert Austin rolled the first car out of his Longbridge factory. That was the Austin 30hp as seen here. This was one of the first cars to have an in-line engine driving the rear wheels by a shaft, a standard that soon became popular with many manufacturers. This particular car was used as an ambulance during WW1 and later at the Longbridge factory. It has a 4-cylinder, 5187cc engine and was capable of 40mph (64Km/h). The cost when new was £650. This is believed to be the oldest surviving Austin.

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This is an Austin 40hp York Landaulette from 1907. The Austin 40 and 60 produced between 1907-12 were the largest Austin road cars ever made. But by 1912 Austin had decide that its future lay in producing smaller mass produced cars. The 40 is actually rated as 36.3hp.


This is an Albion A6 24-30 Tourer of 1909. Manufactured as a large, powerful, luxury car on a chassis of steel channel-section side members, leaf spring suspension with final drive by chain and an impressive 5.6 litre side valve engine of four separate cylinder barrels and a T Head with side valves on each side. The A6 was a giant step away from the A1, with what is described as modern handling and performance for the day But demand was limited, not least by the marketing being concentrated on Scotland and potential Scottish buyers. With their commercial vehicle sales outstripping capacity it was decided to cease car production focus on buses and lorries. This car was registered in Renfrewshire where it spent its early years. After WW2 Albion Motors bought it back, restored it and used it as a promotional vehicle, with the car becoming a familiar sight at Rallies and Shows throughout Scotland.


The 1100cc Stellite was built by Electric Ordanance and Accessories of Birmingham and developed in collaboration with Wolseley Motors, both companies at that time being a part of the Vickers Group. Basically a less expensive Wolseley the E2A sold for £ 157 its chassis was of flitch-plated wood and up to 1915 had only two speed transmission. Post war the Stellite was sold as a Wolseley model, the Wolseley Stellite as a cheaper version of the Wolseley 10 without electrics. Competing with similar models from Rover and Ariel the Wolseley Stellite continued until 1928. This example dates from 1919.


The Riley 10 was launched in 1909 as a scaled down version of the 12/18, where the engine was a smaller V Twin, but crucially still front mounted unlike the smaller 9hp model. The radiator was again elliptical, providing a curved bonnet, behind which sat a 2 seater ‘Torpedo’ body. Windscreen and hood were not fitted to all early cars, but were at least optional as the years went by, and the body became somewhat better styled than the rather basic outline of the earliest cars. There was also, for an extra £20, a speed model available, which proved itself in a number of competition events in 1909/10. From 1911, this was the smallest model of the Riley range, as the older 9hp was dropped. The 10hp was also dropped at the outbreak of war, partly due to the war, but also because a new 10hp model was ready for launch.


This 1912 Ford Model T ‘torpedo’ is the second oldest British built Ford in existence. Over 15 million Model T’s were built with more than 300,000 being built at Trafford Park in Manchester.


The Trojan company was founded by Leslie Hayward Hounsfield, who went into business as a general engineer in a small workshop called the Polygon Engineering Works in Clapham, South London. He got the idea to make a simple, economical car that would be easy to drive and started design work in 1910. In 1913 the prototype was ready. It had a two-stroke engine with four cylinders arranged in pairs, and each pair shared a common combustion chamber – a doubled-up version of what would later be called the “split-single” engine. The pistons in each pair drove the crankshaft together as they were coupled to it by a V-shaped connecting rod. For this arrangement to work, it is necessary for the connecting rod to flex slightly, which goes completely against normal practice. The claim was that each engine had only seven moving parts, four pistons, two connecting rods and a crankshaft. This was connected to a two-speed epicyclic gearbox, to simplify gear changing, and a chain to the rear wheels. Solid tyres were used, even though these were antiquated for car use, to prevent punctures and very long springs used to give some comfort. Before production could start war broke out and from 1914 to 1918, Trojan Ltd, as the company had become in 1914, made production tools and gauges. In 1920 the first series of six cars were made from a works in Croydon and the final production version was shown at the 1922 London Motor Show. An agreement was reached with Leyland Motors to produce the cars at their Kingston upon Thames factory where work on reconditioning former Royal Air Force wartime trucks was running down. This arrangement would continue until 1928 when Leyland wanted factory space for truck production. During the nearly seven years of the agreement 11,000 cars and 6700 vans were made. The Trojan Utility Car went onto the market at £230, which was reduced to £125 in 1925, the same as a Model T Ford. Nothing was conventional. Rather than a chassis the car had a punt shaped tray which housed the engine and transmission below the seats. The transmission used a chain to drive the solid tyre shod wheels. The 1527-cc engine to the ingenious Hounsfield design was started by pulling a lever on the right of the driver. To prove how economical the car was to run, the company ran the slogan “Can you afford to walk?” and calculated that over 200 miles it would cost more in shoes and socks than to cover the distance by Trojan car. A modified car was released in 1920 with a smaller 1488-cc engine to bring it into the sub-1.5-litre class and with pneumatic tyres available as an option. The car was guaranteed for 5,000 miles. A major contract was agreed with Brooke Bond tea for delivery vans making the car familiar all over Britain and with a top speed of 38 mph not causing too much worry over speeding drivers. With the ending of the Leyland partnership, Leslie Hounsfield took over production himself back in Croydon but at new premises with Leyland continuing to supply some parts until the early 1930s. In spite of new body styles, sales of the cars were falling and so a new model, the RE, or Rear Engine capable of 45 mph was announced in 1931. It still did without an electric starter and had only rear-wheel braking, and was beginning to look very old fashioned, and although new modern bodies were fitted, only about 250 were sold. A final attempt was the Wayfarer of 1934 with the engine back in the middle, but now with three-speed gearbox and shaft drive, but only three were sold, and the 6-cylinder Mastra did no better, with only two produced. The original van continued to sell well, however, and the Utility car could still be ordered; the last one was delivered in 1937. Leslie Hounsfield had left the company in 1930 to set up a new enterprise making amongst other things the “Safari” camp bed which would be made in thousands during World War II. Trojan Ltd continued to make vans until war broke out and during hostilities made bomb racks and parachute containers. With peace, van production restarted still with the original engine until 1952 when it was replaced by a Perkins diesel. In 1959 the company was bought by Peter Agg and from 1960 to 1965 he built under licence Heinkel bubble cars selling them as the Trojan 200, the last vehicle to bear the Trojan name. The company acquired the rights to build the Elva Courier sports car in 1962, producing 210 cars between 1962 and 1965 when production switched from road cars to the McLaren-Elva racing car. The company existed as Trojan Limited (Company No 134254 having been incorporated on 27/02/1914) until 19/03/2013, though no longer operating from the Croydon factory which has been sold, on which latter date it was dissolved via “Voluntary Strike-off”.


A considerably changed Cowley was announced on 29 August 1931. In common with the rest of the Morris range the coachwork of the now six models of Cowley was redesigned for a more pleasing appearance with a fashionable “eddy-free” leading edge to the roof of closed cars, petrol tanks located at the rear of the chassis, chrome finish to all bright parts, Magna type wire wheels as standard. There was a new chassis frame giving a lower body. Springs had been made longer and more resilient. Bigger brake drums were provided and the brakes were now actuated hydraulically and supplied by Lockheed. There was a new radiator to match with the large hub wire wheels. The engine’s connecting rods were now Duralumin. A sports coupé body was added to the range. Either the 11.9 or 14/32 engine was supplied to order for the same price. There were no more four seater tourers. A revised (“transformed” said the advertising) lower body with a new 11.9 hp engine behind a new, sloping, radiator and still of the same 1548 cc was announced 28 August 1933 along with a four-speed Twin-Top syncromesh gearbox, shorter stronger cruciform chassis, leather upholstery, draught excluders over the gear lever and pedal slots and a battery master switch (in case of fire). Closed cars were given a sun visor. Additional equipment included bumpers front and rear and luggage grid and parcel net. From late 1934 this car was badged Morris Twelve Four. A total of 39,074 were made.


Dating from 1934 is this Standard 10/12 Speedline. Standard introduced the Speed range for the Motor Show in 1934. With a choice of a coupé and two saloons, it shared the same 10hp chassis, suitably strengthened for a more powerful 12hp engine. The Speed model had a higher gear ratio, cast Millenite ribbed brake drums, knock-on hubs, a high compression aluminium cylinder head and twin carburettors. The body was gently streamlined in deference to tastes of the time and this model was the direct frontrunner of the ‘Flying Standard’ range which followed in the 1930s. Accessories included a twin-tone horn and a windscreen washer spray. Finished in ivory with scarlet flashes, this Speedline was originally sold to a lady in Cheltenham. After only a few months, she returned it to the dealer as she couldn’t get on with the car. The head salesman, John Oates, decided to buy the car for himself. He adorned the radiator with a bronze eagle mascot. During WW2 the car was used on police duty, the body was painted black and a single carburettor was fitted to aid economy. Mr Oates kept the car until 1967, later using it as a summer house. Discovered by the next owner in Mr Oates’ garden, the car was restored during the 1970s before passing to the Trust.


Although pre-war MG is best known for its sports cars, the Abingdon marque did head up market in the late 1930s, producing a range of cars which were aimed at competing with the emerging Jaguar saloons, and there were examples here of the first of the three series that resulted, the SA. The SA Saloon was launched as the 2 litre, and only later became known as the SA. The car had been originally planned as an advanced performance saloon to rival the likes of SS Cars (later to be known as Jaguar) and even Bentley with all independent suspension and was given the factory code of EX150 and designated the S-type. A prototype was made but with the amalgamation of MG with Morris Motors in 1935, development stopped. The Cowley drawing office picked up the project again but a much more conservative car appeared with conventional live rear and beam front axles. The SA used a tuned version of the six cylinder 2062cc Morris QPHG engine which it shared with the Wolseley Super Six but enlarged to 2288cc. The capacity was increased again to 2322cc in 1937 bringing it into line with the Wolseley 18. This was a tall engine and to allow the bonnet line to be as low as possible the twin SU carburettors had their dashpots mounted horizontally. Drive was to the live rear axle via a four speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on the top two ratios (on all but a few early models). Wire wheels were fitted and the drum brakes were hydraulically operated using a Lockheed system. A built in Jackall jacking system was fitted to the chassis. The saloon body, the only option available at the time of the car’s launch, was made in-house by Morris and was a spacious four door with traditional MG grille flanked by two large chrome plated headlights. The spare wheel was carried on the boot lid. Inside there were individual seats in front and a bench seat at the rear, all with leather covering. Much use was made of walnut for the dashboard and other trim items. A Philco radio was offered as an optional extra for 18 Guineas (£18.90). From April 1936 a Tickford drophead coupé by Salmons joined the range priced at £398, the saloon was £375, and in July coachbuilders Charlesworth offered a four door tourer at £375. The tourer originally had straight topped doors but these were replaced with front ones with cutaway tops from 1938 and at the same time the spare wheel moved to the front wing. Of the 2739 cars made, 350 were exported with Germany proving the best market. Quite a few have survived, though many are in need of restoration, and that is a costly business, as this was a complex car, and values of the car do not (yet) make this financially justifiable, which is a pity, as this is a supremely elegant car.

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Launched in October 1937, as the new 10hp, the H Series Vauxhall was a revolutionary model being the first British mass produced car with unitary construction, on a neat 94 inch wheelbase. Developed for the then incredible development cost of more the one million pounds. The ten featured a 1208cc S4 OHV engine with downdraught carburettors producing 34bhp, a three speed gearbox, with syncromesh on 2nd and 3rd, hydraulic brakes and torsion bar independent front suspension. The car was remarkably economical with a manufacturers claimed figure of 40mpg. The styling was neat and incorporated Vauxhall’s traditional fluted bonnet and radiator, The Deluxe model is finished in steel grey polychromatic cellulose paint, and novelty at the time and forbearer to metallic finishes.


This Police car is a 1937 Wolseley 14/56. The 26th June 1936 saw the introduction of the Series II – 14/56 Saloon, replacing the earlier ‘New Fourteen‘, along with a Salon de Ville variant being introduced later in September 1936. The 14/56 became one of the most popular models to be produced with approximately 15,000 during the short life of the Series II. Unlike the Morris equivalent at the time, the Wolseley 14/56 featured overhead valve engine and four-speed gearbox, along with ‘Easiclean’ steel-pressed wheels. The ‘Jackall’ system was also available, whereby a hand pumped hydraulic system could be used to raise the front, rear, or all of the wheels off the ground. As with other Series II cars, the simple distinction between the later Series III 14/60 introduced on 27th September 1938 are that of the bonnet louvres, there being four horizontal along each side for the Series II.


The Ford Popular 103E differed visually from the Anglia E494E in having smaller headlights and a lack of trim on the side of the bonnet. Early 103Es had the three spoke banjo type Anglia/Prefect steering wheel as stocks of these were used up, but most have a two spoke wheel similar to the 100E wheel but in brown. Early Populars also had the single centrally mounted tail/stop-lamp of the Anglia, but this changed to a two tail/stop lamp set up with the lamps mounted on the mudguards and a separate number plate lamp. This car proved successful because, while on paper it was a sensible alternative to a clean, late-model used car, in practice there were no clean late-model used cars available in postwar Britain owing to the six-year halt in production caused by the Second World War. This problem was compounded by stringent export quotas that made obtaining a new car in the late 1940s and into the early 1950s difficult, and covenants forbidding new-car buyers from selling for up to three years after delivery. Unless the purchaser could pay the extra £100 or so for an Anglia 100E, Austin A30 or Morris Minor, the choice was the Popular or a pre-war car. 155,340 Populars were produced.

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NWL 576 was the very first production Morris Minor, finished in Platinum Grey it was used as a Press car before sale, to a Mr Cyril Swift of Sheffield. In 1961 as the Minor production neared the one million mark Morris launched a competition to find the oldest surviving Minor, and it was discovered that this one was indeed the first Minor built, Mr. Swift was offered a new special edition Morris Minor Millionth in exchange and it has been in the hands of Morris and their successors ever since. Designed by Alec Issigonis the original Minor produced as a four seat saloon with either two or four door and a four seat convertible. The new innovative car featured unitary construction bodywork, rack and pinion steering, independent front suspension with torsion bars, and small 14 inch wheels. Powered by a 918cc SV S4 engine, of 27.5 bhp to give a performance according to a road test in a 1950 edition of the Motor magazine of 58.7 top speed 0-50mph in 29.2 seconds and a fuel economy of 35 mpg. in 1949 this Minor would have been priced at £359. Developed under the code name Mosquito the early design which was rejected had a narrow track that was later widened by four inches, leaving the distinctive centre line down the bonnet. Bumpers had already been ordered and the early bumpers had to be modified by splitting them and applying a painted cover plate in the centre of the very early cars to cover the gap Lord Nuffield was said to have detested the new car calling it a poached egg due to its shape, however the public loved them and it went on to become Britain’s best selling car until the arrival of the Mini.

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The Triumph Mayflower was a four-seat ​1 1⁄4-litre small luxury car noted for its razor-edge styling. It was built by the Standard Motor Company and sold by Standard’s subsidiary, The Triumph Motor Company (1945). It was announced at the October 1949 British International Motor Show, but deliveries did not commence until the middle of 1950. One of the nine prototype Triumph Mayflower’s, “JWK 612”, was factory tested 5000 miles across Europe in 1950, they used the famous rooftop test track of Impéria Automobiles in Belgium. The Mayflower was manufactured from 1949 until 1953. The Mayflower’s “upscale small car” position did not find a ready market, and sales of 35,000 units did not meet Standard’s expectations. The company’s next small car, the Standard Eight of 1953, was a basic 0.8-litre economy car.


In October 1956, Austin Motor Company obtained permission from American Motors to sell the Metropolitans in overseas countries where AMC did not have a presence. The early brochures for the Austin Metropolitans used a reversed photograph to show an apparently right hand drive (RHD) car parked in an English country town (Chipping Campden), because only left hand drive vehicles were available at the time the photos were taken. From December 1956, production of Austin Metropolitans began, and from April 2, 1957, approximately 9,400 additional units were sold in overseas markets that included the United Kingdom. List prices for the UK Series III models were £713 17s 0d for the Hardtop and £725 2s 0d for the Convertible. An estimated 1,200 Metropolitans were sold there in four years, according to several published sources. However one British journalist has estimated the figure at around 5,000 Markedly American, the styling was considered outlandish compared with the more sober British-styled models in the British Motor Corporation lineup. Only Series III and Series IV Metropolitans were produced for sale in the UK. Series III models carried the prefix HD6 (Convertible) or HE6 (Hardtop). Some very early Series III models carried the prefix HNK3H or HNK3HL (L=Left-Hand Drive). The prefix is thought to indicate “Home Nash Kelvinator Series 3 H=1400-1999cc (Metropolitan=1500cc)”. UK Series III sales ran from April 1957 to February 1959. Series IV models, which carried the prefix A-HJ7 (Convertible) or A-HP7 (Hardtop), were sold from September 1960 to February 1961. The Metropolitan was not available for UK sales between February 1959 and September 1960, since all production during that time was for US & Canadian dealers. When sales in the UK resumed they were sold through Austin dealers at listed prices of £707 6s 8d for the Hardtop and £732 2s 6d for the Convertible. Austin was dropped from the name, which now became simply “Metropolitan”, and the cars carried no Austin badges although they had Austin Company chassis plates. Despite this the car remained known, by trade and public alike, as the Austin Metropolitan, often shortened to Austin Metro in common parlance. The ‘Metro’ tag was adopted by BMC (later British Leyland) as a house name, re-emerging in 1980 on the Austin (mini) Metro.In May 1960, Car Mart Ltd. (a large Austin dealership in London, UK) presented Princess Margaret with a specially prepared Metropolitan finished in black with gold trim and gold leather interior as a wedding present. It was stolen in London in February 1961. As a result of low sales, production of the Austin Metropolitan ended in February 1961. An additional two “one-offs” were built in March and April, after serial Metropolitan production ended. Total Austin Metropolitan production has been estimated at between 9,384 and 9,391 cars.

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By the mid 1950s, the BMC organisation was well established, and it dominated the UK market with a 39% share. Plans were made for a complete new range of cars that would encompass all the marques: Austin, Morris, MG, Riley and Wolseley. Italian stylist Pininfarina was commissioned to design them. The first model to appear was the A40 which was launched in October 1958 at the London Motor Show. Although it is frequently referred to as the A40 Farina, it was only ever badged as the A40. It was only ever sold with Austin badging. At a time when Turin auto-design studios were, for the most part, consulted only by builders of expensive “exotic” cars, Austin made much of the car’s Italian styling, with both “Pinin” Farina and his son Sergio being present at the car’s UK launch. As would become apparent in later years, the car was something of a scaled-down version of the forthcoming Austin Cambridge and Morris Oxford, but without an extended boot. The A40 Farina was intended to replace the Austin A35, from which it inherited much of its running gear, and was a capacious thoroughly modern small car, with a brand new distinctive “two box” shape and generous headroom in the back seat. It was a saloon, the lower rear panel dropped like a then conventional bootlid, the rear window remaining fixed. The Countryman hatchback appeared exactly a year later in October 1959, and differed from the saloon in that the rear window was marginally smaller, to allow for a frame that could be lifted up, with its own support, while the lower panel was now flush with the floor and its hinges had been strengthened It was effectively a very small estate car with a horizontally split tailgate having a top-hinged upper door and bottom-hinged lower door. October 1959 also saw the standardisation on both cars of self-cancelling indicators and the provision of a centre interior light and, in early summer 1960, a flat lid was added over the spare wheel in the rear luggage compartment. At launch the car shared the 948 cc A-Series straight-4 used in other Austins including its A35 predecessor. The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs with a live axle and semi elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The drum brakes were a hybrid (hydromech) arrangement, hydraulically operated at the front but cable actuated at the rear. The front drums at 8 in were slightly larger than the 7 in rears. Cam and peg steering was fitted. Individual seats were fitted in the front, with a bench at the rear that could fold down to increase luggage capacity. The trim material was a vinyl treated fabric. Options included a heater, radio, windscreen washers and white-wall tyres. The gearchange lever was floor-mounted with the handbrake between the seats. The door windows were not opened by conventional winders, but pulled up and down using finger grips; a window lock position was on the door handle. A Series 2 version of the car appeared in 1962, and continued for 5 more years. The car seen here was a Series 1 model.


Well known now, thanks to a starring role in the Harry Potter films is the Anglia 105E, a model that Ford launched in October 1959. It was a basic car, even in the better selling De Luxe version, so it was not surprising that Ford introduced a more powerful and luxurious model from 1962, the 123E Anglia Super. It had a larger 1198 cc engine and other refinements. Towards the end of the run Ford experimented with two colours of metallic paint on the Anglia, “Blue Mink” and “Venetian Gold”. 250 were made in the Blue and 500 were made in the Gold. Anglia saloons were provided with various levels of trim. The base model was the Standard, and this sported no chromework, painted rear light surrounds, steel slatted grille and limited interior trim. The deluxe had a chrome side strip, chrome rear lights, glovebox lid, sun visor and full width chrome radiator grille while the top of the range, also seen here, was the Super, which had twin chrome side strips, contrasting coloured roof and side flash, plusher interior trim, together with the 1198 cc engine and a gearbox with synchromesh on first gear.

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This is a TE21, the follow on to the TD21 which was conceived in 1956 and was quite a departure from the lovely, but rather “post-war” TC21. However, on its arrival in dealer’s showrooms, it quickly set about changing established views of the Alvis. Following the loss of coachbuilders Mulliner and Tickford (who were now tied to other companies), Alvis turned to the Swiss coachbuilder, Graber whose tradition of producing sleek, modern and very elegant saloons and dropheads proved a good fit in terms of the way Alvis saw their future. Graber first presented this new style to the Alvis board in late 1957 who were very impressed with the Swiss company’s flowing design and commissioned the body to be built on the new TD chassis. To ease logistical problems, Park Ward of London, built the Graber designed bodies in the UK. The Alvis Three Litre TD21 Series I was produced between the end of 1958 and April 1962, and was powered by the TC’s 2993 cc engine, uprated by 15bhp to 115 as a result of an improved cylinder head design and an increased compression ratio. A new four-speed gearbox from the Austin-Healey 100 was incorporated, while the suspension remained similar to the cars predecessor, independent at the front using coil springs and leaf springs at the rear, but the track was increased slightly and a front anti-roll bar added. From 1959 the all drum brake set up was changed to discs at the front retaining drums at the rear. In April 1962, the car was upgraded with four wheel Dunlop disc brakes in place of the disc/drum combination, aluminium doors, a five-speed ZF gearbox and pretty recessed spotlights either side of the grille, these improvements coming together to create the TD21 Series II. The car would be updated in 1963 to create the TE21, with its distinctive dual headlights proving a recognition point, and the later TF21, continuing in production until 1967 at which point Alvis ceased car manufacture

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Launched in 1963, as a competitor to the Morris 1100 and Ford Anglia, the Viva was utterly conventional in design and was Vauxhall’s first serious step into the compact car market after the Second World War, and the marque’s first new small car since 1936. Offered only as a two door saloon, the new car was powered by a 1,057 cc overhead valve, four cylinder, front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels, it was comparable in size and mechanical specifications with the new Opel Kadett released a year earlier in continental Europe. The Viva and Kadett were sold alongside each other in many markets. The HA set new standards in its day for lightweight, easy to operate controls, a slick short gearchange, lightweight steering and clutch pedal, good all-round visibility and relatively nippy performance. It was one of the first cars to be actively marketed towards women, perhaps as a result of these perceived benefits for them. The Viva was initially launched in Standard and Deluxe versions, identifiable by their simple horizontal slatted metal grilles. Minor changes in September 1964 included improved seats and more highly geared steering. A more luxurious SL variant appeared in June 1965. Engines were available in two states of tune: entry level models came with a power output of 44 bhp, while the Viva 90, introduced in October 1965, had a higher 9:1 compression ratio and produced 54 bhp. 90 models came with front disc brakes, while SLs featured contrasting bodyside flashes, a criss-cross chrome plated front grille, full wheel covers, three-element round tail lights and better interior trim. During its first ten months, over 100,000 HA Vivas were made, and by 1966 the HA had chalked up over 306,000 sales, proving that Vauxhall had made a successful return to the small-car market, which they had abandoned following the Second World War. In common with other Vauxhall models of the period, the HA, suffered severely from corrosion problems. One of the main problem areas being the cappings along the top side edges of the luggage compartment badly corroding and allowing water to enter, consequently leading to severe structural corrosion in the luggage-compartment floor area. As with a lot of other British cars of that period, many Vivas failed to survive long term, so it was good to see one.


Following the success of the Scimitar GT Coupe, Reliant looked as to how to evolve the car and Tom Karen of Ogle was asked to submit some body designs based on the Ogle Design GTS estate car experiment for a new four seater Scimitar, the SE5 Reliant Scimitar. Managing Director Ray Wiggin, Chief Engineer John Crosthwaite and fibreglass body expert Ken Wood went to Ogle’s in Letchworth to look at a couple of mock-up body designs for the new SE5. Wiggin told Wood to go ahead and do a proper master. The SE5 was conceived and ready for the 1968 Motor Show in under 12 months. For the SE5 John Crosthwaite and his team designed a completely different longer chassis frame, revised and improved suspension, new and relocated fuel tank, a rollover bar, new cooling system, spare wheel mounted in the nose to give increased rear space and a 17 1⁄4 gallon) fuel tank. When designing the chassis Crosthwaite worked closely with Ogle body stylist Peter Bailey to modify and refine the prototype. The SE5 came with the same 3.0 litre Ford Essex engine used in the SE4a/b. This gave the SE5 a claimed top speed of over 120 mph. A Borg-Warner automatic transmission was added as an option in 1970 and by 1971, overdrive on the 4-speed manual was offered. In 1972 several improvements were included in the upgrade to SE5A, including a boost in power. The extra 7 hp and maximum engine speed raised performance quite a bit and the GTE was now capable of 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds and top speed was raised to 121 mph. The SE5’s flat dashboard also gave way to a curved and moulded plastic one. The 5a can be recognised from a 5 at the rear by the reverse lamps which are below the bumper on the earlier model and are incorporated into the rear clusters on the later version (these were also carried over onto the SE6 and later). 4311 SE5s were produced. It was an instant success; GT production was cut down and the proportion of GTEs to GTs being built was four-to-one. Reliant increased their volume by 20 per cent in the first year. The 5A model sold more than any other Scimitar, with 5105 manufactured. Princess Anne was given a manual overdrive SE5 as a joint 20th birthday present and Christmas present in November 1970 by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. It was Air Force blue in colour with a grey leather interior and registered 1420 H in recognition of her position as Colonel-in-Chief of the 14th/20th Hussars. Princess Anne subsequently owned eight other GTEs.

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Known just as the Wolseley, this would turn out to be the last model to bear the historic name. The Wolseley 18-22 Wedge was launched to critical acclaim on March 26th 1975 and billed as “The car that has got it all together”. The ‘Wedge’, as it was affectionately to be called, inherited the front wheel drive / transverse E Series 2.2 litre 6 cylinder engine configuration from its predecessor, the Wolseley Six and was given the model designation ADO 71. In September 1975, the model range was rebranded Princess and with the Wolseley name disappered. 3800 had been built.

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Also here was a Cortina 80, sometimes known as the Mark V. It was announced on 24 August 1979. Officially the programme was code named Teresa, although externally it was marketed as “Cortina 80”, but the Mark V tag was given to it immediately on release by the press, insiders and the general public. Largely an update to the Mark IV, it was really a step between a facelift and a rebody. The Mark V differentiated itself from the Mark IV by having revised headlights with larger turn indicators incorporated (which were now visible on the side too), a wider slatted grille said to be more aerodynamically efficient, a flattened roof, larger glass area, slimmer C-pillars with revised vent covers, larger slatted tail lights (on saloon models) and upgraded trim. Improvements were also made to the engine range, with slight improvements to both fuel economy and power output compared to the Mark IV. The 2.3 litre V6 engine was given electronic ignition and a slight boost in power output to 116 bhp, compared to the 108 bhp of the Mark IV. Ford also claimed improved corrosion protection on Mark V models; as a result, more Mark Vs have survived; however, corrosion was still quite a problem. The estate models combined the Mark IV’s bodyshell (which was initially from the 1970 Ford Taunus) with Mark V front body pressings. A pick-up (“bakkie”) version was also built in South Africa. These later received a longer bed and were then marketed as the P100. Variants included the Base, L, GL, and Ghia (all available in saloon and estate forms), together with Base and L spec 2-door sedan versions (this bodystyle was available up to Ghia V6 level on overseas markets). The replacement for the previous Mark IV S models was an S pack of optional extras which was available as an upgrade on most Mark V models from L trim level upwards. For the final model year of 1982 this consisted of front and rear bumper overriders, sports driving lamps, an S badge on the boot, tachometer, 4 spoke steering wheel, revised suspension settings, front gas shock absorbers,’Sports’ gear lever knob, sports road wheels, 185/70 SR x 13 tyres and Fishnet Recaro sports seats (optional). Various “special editions” were announced, including the Calypso and Carousel. The final production model was the Crusader special edition which was available as a 1.3 litre, 1.6 litre, and 2.0 litre saloons or 1.6 litre and 2.0 litre estates. The Crusader was a final run-out model in 1982, along with the newly introduced Sierra. It was the best-specified Cortina produced to date and 30,000 were sold, which also made it Ford’s best-selling special edition model. Another special edition model was the Cortina Huntsman, of which 150 were produced. By this time, the Cortina was starting to feel the competition from a rejuvenated Vauxhall, which with the 1981 release Cavalier J-Car, was starting to make inroads on the Cortina’s traditional fleet market, largely helped by the front wheel drive benefits of weight. Up to and including 1981, the Cortina was the best selling car in Britain. Even during its final production year, 1982, the Cortina was Britain’s second best selling car and most popular large family car. On the continent, the Taunus version was competing with more modern and practical designs like the Talbot Alpine, Volkswagen Passat, and Opel Ascona. The very last Cortina – a silver Crusader – rolled off the Dagenham production line on 22 July 1982 on the launch of the Sierra, though there were still a few leaving the forecourt as late as 1987, with one final unregistered Cortina GL leaving a Derbyshire dealership in 2005. The last Cortina built remains in the Ford Heritage Centre in Dagenham, Essex, not far from the factory where it was assembled.

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“A British car to beat the world”. So read the billboards when the Austin Metro was revealed in October 1980. We had waited a long time for this car. There were many false starts, with thoughts first turning to how to replace the Mini going back to the late 1960s, but for various reasons, every effort had been cancelled. Fortunately, that extended to the ADO88 prototype which got to quite an advanced state of development in 1978, but which received less than favourable feedback at customer clinics. A hasty redesign was conducted. Despite carrying over the A Series engines, albeit in modified A+ guise, as BL had nothing else suitable an no money to develop an alternative, and that meant the 4 speed in-sump gearbox came with it, the little Metro has an immediate hit. It looked good, with pert, modern looks, and with a large hatchback, and some innovative ideas on how to maximise the use of space, this was a roomy car that Britain could indeed be proud of. That a young lady who came to prominence in the months following launch, the future Princess Diana, could be seen driving around in one probably helped still further. Five models were available at launch: 1.0, 1.0L, the economy-oriented 1.0 HLE, 1.3S and 1.3 HLS, and the cars were available in a wide range of bright and attractive colours, including a greater percentage of metallic paints than were typically offered to buyers of cars in this class. My parents bought a 1.0L in the summer of 1983, as a replacement for our Mini, and the car was a massive improvement in just about every respect. Unlike previous BL cars, this model was not dogged with build quality and reliability issues, though, sadly it did have the same propensity to rust as they did, but it took several years before that would become obvious. Before that happened, the range was expanded with the introduction of cheaper City and City X models, a top spec Vanden Plas and then the sporting MG version. There was a lot of angst about this last one, as the purists all bemoaned the fact that it was not a “real” MG, as it was a family hatchback not a sports car (conveniently ignoring the MG 1100/1300 saloons of the 1960s), but ti soon became apparent that this little car was a blast to drive, and something quite special with its red trim, including red seat belts and a liberal splashing of octagon logos around the car. A wilder Turbo model followed at the end of 1982, reflecting the craze for every manufacturer to bolt one on to every car that they could find to create a series of often rather unruly and lag-prone but fast machines. Although a lot of work was done in the mid 80s on developing what should have been another world class replacement (the AR6, the prototype for which is also hidden away at Gaydon), a lack of funds meant that for the next 7 years, all that happened was a lot of tweaking of the the trim, and specification and the incorporation of a pair of rear doors to create a 5 door model. This was at a time when the competition stood far from still, with the Fiat Uno and Peugeot 205 upping the ante in early 1983, Vauxhall joining the fray with the Nova mid year, a facelifted Fiesta with a five speed gearbox arriving later that year, a new Renault R5 the following year, along with several Japanese rivals coming out every 4 years. It all made the Metro look increasingly elderly, and also small, compared to all its rivals.

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For many people, this will be one of the most interesting parts of the museum, as rather than comprising cars that were once familiar on our roads, these are the one-offs, prototypes and concepts that never made it to production, the existence of most of which was unknown to all bar a handful of people at the time these vehicles were constructed.

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The A30 was introduced as a Saloon at the 1951 Earls Court (London) Motor Show. It heralded it was the first Austin to receive the new OHV engine that would become known as the BMC A series. It was also the first Austin of unitary construction. This hand built Convertible was produced as a prototype in 1952 differing from the Saloon in having very deep sills to add rigidity and a much larger boot extending to the two seats. The side vents are a later addition and originate from an Austin A70. The design never entered production.


This pretty little thing is possibly one of BMC’s greatest missed opportunities. It is the Longbridge version of ADO34, which was active between 1960 and 1964 that aimed to possibly develop a front-wheel drive Mini-based roadster as a possible new MG Midget or Austin-Healey Sprite. Following the launch of the MG Midget in 1961, it was considered as a possible MG Midget or Austin Healey Sprite replacement. The project was cancelled in about 1964. In 1965 Peugeot released the 204 Cabriolet, also styled by Pininfarina and featuring strong visual similarities to the ADO34, especially at the near-identical rear. The 204’s transverse engined, front-wheel drive configuration (a new approach for Peugeot) was also BMC-inspired. Sadly the project was cancelled, along with the related ADO35 coupe and ADO36 Austin-Healey version, and it wasn’t until 30 years later that the Lotus Elan became the first production front-wheel-drive sports car.

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The ADO70 was first conceived as a low cost Mini based replacement for the MG Midget – Austin Healey Sprite, by Harry Webster and was to be aimed at the US market as fun small sportscar. Otherwise known as the Michelotti Mini it was actually designed in the UK. Harry Webster appointed designers Paul Hughes and Rob Owen to pen the Midget replacement and they came up with the Targa topped design two seater. The project was given the development code ADO 70 Calypso (Austin Design Office) and its build was commissioned to Michelotti in Italy using a Mini 1275GT as its base the prototype was hamstrung by an overweight, handbuilt body, leaking Hyrolastic suspension and damaged driveshafts. that was rectified by Innocenti and the finished car driven back to Birmingham from Turin. Paul Hughes is said to have been ‘disappointed’ with the way his original design had been interpreted by Michelotti. However a larger problem lay in store. the BMC board were lukewarm about the finished car, and felt that it would not after all appeal to the American market. The rejected car was left to rot for many years at Longbridge before it eventual rescue and renovation


Developed by Roy Axe and Gerry McGovern and inspired by the Ferrari 308, the mid-engined MG EX-E was presented as a concept at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show to generate interest in the MG brand but never led to a production car. It survives in the Gaydon collection and the styling has aged well, bearing a striking similarity to the Honda NSX, but it is sadly only an engineless fibreglass mockup and no running version was ever built.


This is an Austin Ant, a small four wheel drive vehicle designed by Sir Alec Issigonis. Widely regarded as a military vehicle it was also designed for civilian usage. It’s military role was intended to be as a replacement for the military version Mini Moke. The project was cancelled before full scale production in 1968 as part of the rationalisation of the British Leyland conglomerate, following their merger with BMC it was felt the Ant overlapped the role of the Land Rover. The Ant was powered by a transversely mounted BMC A series engine, canted over to allow greater ground clearance.

The Mini Moke was never a success in military service due to its low ground clearance and two-wheel-drive. BMC’s rather unorthodox solution to the latter problem was to install another front subframe complete with A-series engine in the back with its steering locked, this creating the Twini Moke. Each engine has its own gearbox but both are controlled by the same clutch; there are two gearlevers so it is theoretically possible to put each engine in a different gear! The cost and complexity meant the prototype remained unique, although Citroen used a similar system in the 2CV Sahara.

The BMC 9X was undoubtedly Alec Issigonis’s greatest achievement and surely concrete proof of his genius as it was so far ahead of its time. It was developed as a potential replacement for the Mini and managed the impossible in being even smaller and lighter but more spacious, thanks in part to an all-new 850cc four-cylinder engine. It had a hatchback body and this prototype was built in 1969, thus predating the similar-looking Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 104, but sadly due to a combination of factors was never approved for production and only escaped destruction thanks to the personal intervention of its creator.

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This is the Nuffield Gutty of 1947. Shortly after the Second World War, the war office began a plan to standardise British built military vehicles, via the FVRDE (Fighting Vehicle Research and Development Establishment). The smallest vehicle in the range was to be a quarter ton, four wheel drive, utility vehicle to replace the large number of American Jeeps returning to the USA. A development contract was awarded to Morris Motors, and work was undertaken by its Birmingham based military division Nuffield Mechanisation Ltd. With designers (a young) Alec Issigonis and Rex Sewell of the FVRDE. Two full scale mock ups completed in 1945, and during 1946-47 three working prototypes built known as the Gutty, of which this is the only survivor. Differing from the Jeep it has monocoque construction and an inventive torsion bar suspension, the brief had called for Rolls Royce B40 engines , but due to non being available an experimental flat four 1800cc engine was installed, a larger version of the one Issigonis was considering for the Morris Minor. The vehicle also had two sets of brake and clutch pedals, so the vehicle could easily be swopped from LHD to RHD and back again.


Another prototype, or perhaps more accurately described, a concept is the vehicle that was seen at the inaugural NEC Birmingham Motor Show in 1978, the Triplex 10-20 Glassback. I’ve only ever seen pictures of this one, and did not realise that it was still around, let alone where it is (also in the Gaydon collection). This car, with its unusual rear-end treatment and very distinctive front was produced to showcase the latest Triplex Ten-Twenty super laminated glass in the windscreen, with an embedded radio aerial and what could be done with new glass production techniques including a glass sunroof from 3mm thin glass which was so thin that it opened by bending the glass, thin side windows for weight saving and door mirrors with a Hyviz coating for electric demisting and deicing. Based on a standard Princess 2200, it was produced by Ogle, but with a frontal aspect changed from the standard Princess by simply fitting a styled plastic cover over the existing front panels, which was not only very effective, but giving some idea of how the Princess styling could have evolved. The rear end was more interesting, but not entirely successful to everyone’s eyes. The small badge at the bottom of the front wing is the Ogle logo. Needless to say, it remained a one-off.

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As early as the 1950s, the idea of a vehicle to bridge the gap between Rover cars and the Land Rover was under consideration. According to Land Rover’s designer, Maurice Wilkes, it should be a cross-country vehicle adapted to road use, in contrast to the ‘workhorse’ Land Rover, hence the choice of the name ‘Road Rover’. The 1952-55 Road Rover design was based on a modified P4 car chassis, fitted with a Land Rover engine. Initially, four-wheel drive was planned but later prototypes had rear-wheel drive only. The austere and simple body was nicknamed ‘Greenhouse’ and the prototype car on display is of this type. More stylish versions were later developed showing an American influence. The last prototype resembled a Chevrolet station wagon and was to have been fitted with a six-cylinder engine. The project was finally abandoned in 1959 and the idea lay dormant until the mid-1960s when Spen King and Gordon Bashford started to work on the vehicle which emerged as Range Rover in 1970.

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This 1971 Crompton Leyland Electricar has now returned to Gaydon after being on loan to other museums. This prototype electric city car is based on Mini running gear and was styled by Michelotti and built as a joint venture between British Leyland and electric vehicle specialist Crompton Electricars. It was never intended for production, being judged not to be viable for the usual reason: the weight and expense of the battery pack.


Following the formation of BL in 1968 a complete styling studio was set up at the Pressed Steel plant in Cowley under chief stylist Roy Haynes and his deputy Harris Mann. The Zanda was the studio’s first design which was intended to demonstrate Pressed Steels new CAD design techniques. Designed as a concept small sports car under Harris Mann, the Zanda used the transverse engine and gearbox from the Austin Maxi, driving the rear wheels. It displayed at the 1969 British and New York Motor Shows as a mock and is constructed with glass-fibre reinforced polyester over an original clay model. As for its designer Harris Mann he caught the attention of BLs senior management as a rising star with this car and as a result, went on to style the Allegro, Princess and TR7

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The Triumph TR7 was always intended to have a fastback coupe version which had the code name Lynx. The Lynx concept had fallen well behind the TR7 due to constant changes, with the TR7 being launched alone in 1975. This is thought to be the last of the 18 Lynx prototypes produced. The Lynx has a lengthened wheelbase to enable rear seats to be fitted and the TR7 panels were redesigned to give a different side aspect. Fitted with a Rover V8 engine with this example having Lucas electronic fuel injection. Seen as a would be successor to the Stag which was discontinued in 1977 but BL were losing interest in the sports car market and the project was shelved.

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This Rover SD1 estate is one of two that were built. The other car is displayed at the Haynes Museum, and sports a different rear end treatment. This car was conceived to replace the very popular large Triumph cars, and although Sir Michael Edwards, then Chairman of BL drove one for a while, the SD1 was never put into production. It would surely have done well, as there were few competitors on the market at the time.


When Rover took over control of Alvis in 1965 plans were made to revive Alvis car production It was decided that Rover would design a fast sports car for assembly by Alvis. The P6BS was a project by Spen King and Gordon Bashford the code P6 is because it incorporates a chassis from the Rover 2000 range while BS stands for Buick Sports from the Buick derived V8 engine. The Rover V8 engine is slightly offset to allow a single seat to be mounted in the back, there is a good boot space and all round visibility. The roof panels are removable. The project was cancelled in 1968 following the British Leyland rationalisation programme. This is the only surviving prototype.


Rover’s gas turbine experimental programme stemmed from the 1950 JET 1 (now in the Science Museum) which achieved 150 mph in sped tests. The T3 was the third gas turbine car designed by Spencer king and Gordon Bashford. The turbine is rear mounted and the car incorporates four wheel drive and De Dion rear suspension. The turbine has a centrifugal compressor which rotates at up to 52,000 rpm. The car is fitted with all round disc brakes. The Achilles heal of the gas turbine is fuel consumption and although this is a perfectly practical road car, it has a paraffin fuel consumption of 13/14 mpg at very best.


This the fourth and last of the Rover Gas Turbine project cars, although in 1963 they produced a Le Mans car in co-operation with BRM. They also produced a small number of experimental gas turbine lorries between 1968-69 in co-operation with Leyland. The T4 is based on the Rover 2000 prototype, unveiled two years ahead of the Rover 2000. The Turbine drives the front wheels. Fuel consumption (Kerosene) is in the region of 16-20mpg. Rover claimed the T4 could have been put in production in three years at a price of around £3000-4000 at a time when the most expensive Rover in production cost £1948.



This display is more of a semi-circle than a complete circle, and comprises a number of historically significant Jaguar models, mostly with a sporting connection. Not officially part of the collection, these all belong to the Jaguar-Daimler Heritage Trust. Ever since the closure of the small museum at the former Browns Lane factory, there is no publically accessible display location for the more than 300 cars that they own, so in the interests of making some of them available for the public to enjoy, there are a number on show in the Coventry Museum and some more of them here. Rather more of the collection are shown in the other building on site, and those feature later in this report.

This XK 120, more than any other, was the car that established Jaguar’s motor sport credentials. Though neither the first nor the last of the competition XK120s, NUB 120 was by far the most successful of the breed. Unlike most other competition cars in the Jaguar Collection, NUB 120 was not a works car, but was privately owned and campaigned by Ian Appleyard, with his wife Patricia, William Lyons’ daughter, acting as navigator. It missed victory in its first ever event, the 1950 Tulip Rally in Holland, by one quarter of an inch. Appleyard did not make the same mistake again, entering the 1950 Alpine Rally and winning a Coupe des Alpes. The following year, Appleyard and NUB 120 repeated their success in the Alpine Rally and added the RAC Rally and the elusive Tulip Rally to their string of victories. Despite failing to win the Alpine Rally outright in 1952, the third consecutive run, without incurring a single penalty point, earned the first ever Gold Cup for the car! The secret of the XK 120s competition success was its extremely rugged chassis, the extraordinary reliability of its then new 3.4-litre, twin-cam engine and the light weight of its all-alloy bodywork (later production cars were built from steel). Its only weakness was its brakes, with heavy wear rates and susceptibility to fade, which almost proved the undoing of the Appleyards on many occasions during their time together. At the end of its active career in 1953, NUB 120 came back to Jaguar and has been with us ever since. Ian Appleyard replaced it with a new XK 120, registered RUB 120. Today NUB 120 is maintained in full working order and can often be seen at classic car events supporting the marque whose reputation it did so much to establish.

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Even among D-types this is a unique car. It is the factory prototype for the machine which set the seal on the Jaguar Le Mans legend, culminating in a hat-trick of victories from 1955 to 1957. With its advanced monocoque construction and beautiful low-drag body, it maximised the potential of the XK engine, offering over 170 mph while remaining tractable enough to be driven on the road. Indeed the works cars were driven from Coventry to Dover, onto the ferry, and then down the main roads to the French circuit. Although the C-type had decisively beaten Europe’s best at Le Mans in 1951 and 1953, the threat from Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari made it clear to Jaguar Team Manager “Lofty” England and engineer Bill Heynes that they needed a new car. This was the result – stronger, lighter and faster than the C-type, yet powered by a 270 bhp development of the same XK engine. This meant that private owners could easily buy and maintain these cars, which provided a useful back-up to the works team. This prototype was completed in May 1954, and immediately travelled to France for a Le Mans test session where Jaguar works driver Tony Rolt broke the lap record by five clear seconds. Back at Coventry, it was used for more development work, while a further three D-types were built for the race itself. In the event fuel contamination sidelined two cars, but the third finished a close second after a Ferrari. Victories at Reims and Sebring were a promising pointer for the following year, when Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb won Le Mans – Jaguar’s third victory. In 1956, two works cars crashed and one suffered engine failure, but the honours fell to another D-type of the private Ecurie Ecosse team. In 1957, Ecurie Ecosse brought Jaguar’s total to five Le Mans wins, three of them for the D-type – a world beating sports-racing car, which you could buy from a Jaguar dealer and drive home.


This is the penultimate D-type, built in March 1956 one of twelve “long-nose” cars, six of which were Works cars and six were Customer cars. Fitted with the latest specification fuel injection engine it was allocated to the Jaguar Works racing team, and was entered for the Reims 12-hour race on 30th June 1956, which it won, driven by Duncan Hamilton and Ivor Bueb. During the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020, this image was one of those chosen to be reproduced as a line drawing by JDHT and Fuzzy Duck Creative, for children to colour in at home while they were under ‘lockdown’. In 1956, the 24-hour race at Le Mans was held later than normal, at the end of July, to allow for reconstruction following the disaster in the 1955 race. Cars were also required to be fitted with a passenger door, a full-width windscreen, and a smaller fuel tank. At Le Mans, Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb drove XKD 605 with race number 1 (and on trade plates 393 RW) but were kept back by persistent misfiring, eventually traced to a cracked fuel injection pipe. They finished sixth and set fastest lap, while the winners were Flockhart and Sanderson in an Ecurie Ecosse entered D-type. On 13 October 1956, Jaguar announced the company’s withdrawal from racing. XKD 605 was then lent to the American Cunningham/Momo team and was temporarily repainted in the American racing colours of white with blue stripes. A new 3.8 litre engine was also fitted. In the 12-hour race at Sebring in 1957, the car was driven by Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb who finished third. The car stayed in the USA until 1961 and then returned to England. It was subsequently painted the original British Racing Green colour again, and was lent to Italy’s National Motor Museum, the Museo Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia in Turin, where it remained for almost twenty years before again returning to its place of birth, the Jaguar factory at Browns Lane, Coventry. One of the most original D-types in preservation, it still has the 1956 Le Mans windscreen, passenger seat and door, and even sports the original trade plate registration 393 RW.

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In 1975, Bob Tullius’ Group 44 racing team won seven races, including the Road Atlanta National Finals, and took the SCCA Championship. Although the E-type had been raced in many events right from its introduction in 1961, even in lightweight form the car was not competitive in first-line events such as Le Mans against the new generation of cars from Ferrari, and later Ford and Porsche. However, the E-type was to experience a renaissance late in its career, with the V12-engined Series 3 model. In 1974, Mike Dale of British Leyland Motor Inc, the Jaguar importer in the USA, decided to enter the E-type in the Class B production car championship of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Two independent companies were chosen to prepare and race the cars, Huffaker of California for the West Coast races, and Group 44 of Virginia for the East Coast races. Group 44 had been founded ten years before by Bob Tullius and Brian Fuerstenau, and had an impressive list of race victories, as well as ten national championships, to their credit. The Huffaker prepared car, driven by Lee Mueller, won its first race at Seattle in August 1974, while at the same time the Group 44 car missed victory at Watkins Glen as the gearlever broke in Bob Tullius’s hand while he was in the lead with three laps to go. However, this initial setback was soon forgotten and the E-types swept all before them for the rest of the season, with Mueller scoring a total of three victories and Tullius five. By 1975, of course, the E-type was out of production, and the stock of cars remaining in the USA had been sold off. Therefore the E-type racing programme was concluded with the 1975 season. Bob Tullius and Group 44 however continued their successful involvement with Jaguar, first in the XJS, and later with the specially-built XJR sports racing cars which in the 1980s contested the American IMSA races, and brought Jaguar back to Le Mans.

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With the re-organisation of British Leyland in 1973, for a time Jaguar Cars Limited disappeared as a company name. Jaguar became simply a part of the Leyland Cars company. No Jaguar had taken part in first-line motor sport in the UK since the E-type and the Mark II faded from the scene in the mid-1960s. In theory, it would boost the image of both Jaguar and Leyland, if a Jaguar were to make a successful comeback in racing. All British Leyland motor sport activities were now centralised, and the company increasingly made use of contractors who took on the preparation of cars, and the management of racing teams. Ralph Broad of Broadspeed had enjoyed a successful run with Triumph Dolomites in British saloon car racing. He had ideas of his own about the possibility of developing the Jaguar V12 engine for a proper racing car, and was therefore chosen to spearhead an attempt to bring a Jaguar back into racing, running the XJ12 coupé version – XJC for short – in the European Touring Car Championship. Development began in 1975, and the car was unveiled in March 1976. Staying within the regulations for the Touring Car Championship, the cars were substantially modified by Broad, and amongst other features, were fitted with a manual gearbox! The cars’ debut came in the Tourist Trophy race at Silverstone in September 1976. Derek Bell led the race for a while, until a driveshaft failed. This was to be the recurring theme throughout the car’s brief career: Always spectacular, often fast, but usually denied the reliability – or luck – needed to stay the course, or to achieve a respectably high finish. The best result was to be a second place for Bell and Andy Rouse at the Nürburgring in 1977. Alas, it was not enough for BL to agree to continue with the project for a further season, although Ralph Broad personally never changed his opinion that with further development, the car would have been a winner.

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This is a Jaguar XJR-5 Group 44 Racer. The return of Jaguar to long-distance sports car racing was begun in the USA. In 1974 and 1975, Bob Tullius of the Group 44 team had successfully run an E-type in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) production car races, with sponsorship from the then British Leyland Motor Inc, the American Jaguar importers which eventually became Jaguar Cars Inc. At Atlanta in 1975, Tullius clinched the national Group B championship. However, the E-type was now out of production, and Tullius switched to the new XJ-S which won him the 1977 and 1978 SCCA Trans-Am championships. While still racing the XJ-S in 1981, Tullius now hatched a plan to develop a mid-engined endurance racer round the proven Jaguar V12 engine, for the IMSA Camel GTP series. The car was designed by Lee Dykstra, previously associated with Ford racing. In its debut race at Elkhart Lake in 1982, the new car came third, but was initially often plagued by minor technical problems or accidents. The first win for Tullius and co-driver Bill Adam came at Road Atlanta in April 1983 with the car on display – chassis 009. This season was to prove the best for the Group 44 car in American racing with a further win for Tullius and Adam in this car at Lime Rock in May. But Tullius had already set his sights on a larger target: The world championship for sports car endurance racing, or to be more precise, the 24-hour race at Le Mans in France. Bearing in mind Jaguar’s past record at Le Mans, with five wins from 1951 to 1957, there was a great deal of emotion attached to a return to this race, especially in 1984, the year that Jaguar achieved independence from the BL company. Although the Le Mans entry arguably compromised Group 44’s chances to win the American championship, the two cars which appeared in the 1984 race were widely welcomed and applauded. Sadly, neither finished, but in 1985, one of the two Group 44 cars finished at Le Mans in thirteenth place, the first time that a Jaguar had finished at Le Mans since 1963. The drivers were Tullius himself, together with Chip Robinson and Claude Ballot-Lena. If not successful, Group 44 had paved the way for the TWR-Jaguar.


The return of Jaguar to long-distance sports car racing was begun in the USA. In 1974 and 1975, Bob Tullius of the Group 44 team had successfully run an E-type in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) production car races, with sponsorship from the then British Leyland Motor Inc, the American Jaguar importers which eventually became Jaguar Cars Inc. At Atlanta in 1975, Tullius clinched the national Group B championship. However, the E-type was now out of production, and Tullius switched to the new XJ-S which won him the 1977 and 1978 SCCA Trans-Am championships. While still racing the XJ-S in 1981, Tullius now hatched a plan to develop a mid-engined endurance racer round the proven Jaguar V12 engine, for the IMSA Camel GTP series. The car was designed by Lee Dykstra, previously associated with Ford racing. In its debut race at Elkhart Lake in 1982, the new car came third, but was initially often plagued by minor technical problems or accidents. The first win for Tullius and co-driver Bill Adam came at Road Atlanta in April 1983 with the car on display – chassis 009. This season was to prove the best for the Group 44 car in American racing with a further win for Tullius and Adam in this car at Lime Rock in May. But Tullius had already set his sights on a larger target: The world championship for sports car endurance racing, or to be more precise, the 24-hour race at Le Mans in France. Bearing in mind Jaguar’s past record at Le Mans, with five wins from 1951 to 1957, there was a great deal of emotion attached to a return to this race, especially in 1984, the year that Jaguar achieved independence from the BL company. Although the Le Mans entry arguably compromised Group 44’s chances to win the American championship, the two cars which appeared in the 1984 race were widely welcomed and applauded. Sadly, neither finished, but in 1985, one of the two Group 44 cars finished at Le Mans in thirteenth place, the first time that a Jaguar had finished at Le Mans since 1963. The drivers were Tullius himself, together with Chip Robinson and Claude Ballot-Lena. If not successful, Group 44 had paved the way for the TWR-Jaguar.

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Perhaps better known is this XJR-9, the Le Mans winning car. The long awaited return to Le Mans came in 1984 when Jaguar teamed up with the American Group 44 team who designed and produced a sports racing car around the Jaguar V12 engine. Two cars were entered for the 1984 race but both failed to finish. In 1985 a Group 44 car managed to finish the race in thirteenth place, winning the GTP category, the first time in twenty-two years that a Jaguar had been classified as a finisher. Following the success of Tom Walkinshaw and his TWR Racing Team which dominated the European Touring Car Championship with the Jaguar XJS, TWR were given the task of designing a sports racing car to win Le Mans for Jaguar. The cars that were entered in the 1986 and 1987 Le Mans all performed well but luck was not on their side, they all succumbed to failures that were incidental rather that fundamental to the cars’ design or construction. In 1988 Jaguar went to Le Mans in strength, with an entry of five XJR-9 cars, all powered by the Jaguar V12 engine producing 750bhp from a capacity of 7.0 litres. Two of the cars retired but the remaining three went on to finish first, fourth and sixteenth. The winning Jaguar, driven by Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace, completed 394 laps and covered a distance of 5332.79km (3313.63 miles), in comparison the winning D-type of 1957 covered a distance of 4397km (2732 miles). This was Jaguar’s year in sports car racing, as 1988 also saw Jaguar take the world championship with wins in six out of ten Group C races. The Le Mans victory was repeated with the XJR-12s which came first and second in 1990, and another world championship fell to Jaguar in 1991, although the best placing at Le Mans that year was second. In 1993, an XJ220C won the GT class at Le Mans, in Jaguar’s latest appearance at the Sarthe circuit to date. And the Jaguar may yet one day return to its favourite hunting ground.

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There’s only one Jaguar XJ13 in the world and this is it. Built as a potential Le Mans contender, it never competed in any race. Its development inevitably had to take second place to that of the much more important new saloon car which became the XJ6, launched in 1968. By the time XJ13 was completed, its design had become obsolete against new cars from Ferrari and Ford, never mind the Porsche 917. Anyway, the Le Mans regulations were changing, and prototype cars were limited to engines of 3 litres. To run cars with larger engines, manufacturers had to build fifty examples as production cars (later reduced to twenty-five). This did not stop XJ13 from being one of the most beautiful racing cars of all time, thanks to the talent of aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer who had also been responsible for the C-type and D-type shapes. Nor should anyone doubt the potential of its unique 502 bhp, 5 litre V12 engine. During early testing in 1967, it lapped the MIRA test track at over 161 mph (259 km/h), establishing a lap record in the hands of racing driver David Hobbs, despite the car still being in the development stages. Many of the lessons learned in the development of the racing engine were used in Jaguar’s production V12 engine which would be produced for twenty-five years from 1971 to 1996. There is, however, a twist in the tale of the XJ13. In 1971, having spent four years sitting under a cover in the factory, it was taken out of mothballs and returned to MIRA to be filmed for the E-type V12 launch. With Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis at the wheel, on the final lap after filming, a tyre punctured on the banking, sending the car into the retaining fence, from where it rebounded, to flip end over end twice, before rolling twice and coming to rest on its wheels. Dewis, who had the presence of mind to turn off the ignition, took refuge under the scuttle and escaped unhurt. The bodywork was badly damaged but the car was rebuilt and demonstrated at the British Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone in July 1973. XJ13 is still run today, albeit at less frantic speeds!



Third of the circle of cars was one focused on Sports Cars. There were a number of different marques represented in this collection, illustrating how so many legendary sports models have come from the UK over the years.

This is a 1931 MG 18/80, one of the last of these cars to be built. While its predecessors were very closely based on the “Bullnose” Morris Oxford, the MG 18/80 of 1928 was the first model in which the factory had designed the chassis itself, and was the first car to have the typical MG grille with vertical standing slats and vertical centre bar and higher set headlights. It was initially known as the ‘MG Six’. The MG 18/80 derived from the Morris Light Six/ Morris Six, for which Cecil Kimber had MG build a stronger chassis. The Mark I and Mark II were available in a variety of body styles, two- and four-door, two- and four-seater and both closed and touring cars. The Mark I was built from 1928 to 1931, to a total of 501 examples. From 1929 onwards, the Mark II was offered in parallel, with 236 built. Production ended in 1931 and there was no immediate successor, It was not until the launch of the SA in 1936 that MG made such a large car again.


Replacing the J series cars was the 1934 PA. The PA and later PB replaced the J Type Midget. These 2-door sports cars used an updated version of the overhead camshaft, crossflow engine that was also used in the 1928 Morris Minor and Wolseley 10 as well as the J-type Midget of 1932 to 1934. It drove the rear wheels through a four-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. The chassis was a strengthened and slightly longer version of that used in the J-type with suspension by half-elliptic springs all round with rigid front and rear axles. Steering was initially by a Marles Weller and later a Bishop Cam system. The two-seat car had a wheelbase of 87″ and a track of 42″. Most cars were open two seaters, but streamlined Airline coupé bodies were also made. The P-type was also available as a four-seater, a car that suffered from a lack of power and poor rear ground clearance. Whereas J, K and L-type MGs differentiated between versions with the use of numbers, with 1 indicating a four-seater (the J1) and 2 a two-seater (the J2), this was not the case with the P-type (or its six-cylinder sister, the N-type Magnette), and there is no clue to the type in the name. The first version, the PA used an 847 cc engine similar to the one on the J-Type, but now with a 3-bearing crankshaft, larger camshaft and twin SU carburettors. It produced 36 bhp at 5,500 rpm. In 1935, a PA open two-seater cost £222. Around 2,000 PAs were made. In late 1936 the PA was replaced by the PB, which had a larger 939cc 43bhp engine and which is distinguished by a grille of vertical slats as opposed to the honeycomb pattern of the PA. 526 examples of the PB were made.


A 1935 Morgan Supersports 3-wheeler. The high level exhaust on the side of this car shows that it is Supersports model, fitted with a 990cc V-twin Matchless engine. Matchless units replaced the earlier JAP engines in 1935.


Dating only a couple of years later is this Morgan, often referred to as a “Flat Rad”, the name given to the first of the 4-wheeled cars, produced from 1935. but more correctly called the 4-4. The first cars had the sliding pillar suspension of the three-wheeler plus an underslung live rear axle sitting over Z-section cross-section chassis side rails, carried in leaf springs. The first cars had a 34 bhp 1122 Coventry Climax four cylinder engine, a crossflow with overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. In competition form it had a slightly smaller capacity of 1098cc and it put out a healthy 50 – 60 bhp. The car enjoyed considerable success with a lightened car winning the Tourist Trophy in 1937 on handicap and in 1938 if finished second in class at Le mans. In 1939, Morgan changed to the 1267 cc overhead valve Standard Special engine which was both lighter and more powerful. Post was the name was changed to Plus 4 and in 1950 the engine was replaced by the much larger 2088cc 68 bhp Standard engine from the Vanguard and the body was revised to be slightly wider and roomier. The bodies were made of steel over a wooden frame. three different styles were offered: a two seater, a four seat tourer and a drophead coupe. This last was more sophisticated with a fixed windscreen frame sliding windows and a three position hood. The first of the cowled radiator cars arrived in 1953.


Dating from 1951 is this interesting two-seater, a Marauder, which was built by former Rover engineers George Mackie and Peter Wilks on a shortened Rover P4 chassis. Only around 15 were built between 1950 and 1952 before tax changes priced the car out of the market and both Mackie and Wilks subsequently rejoined Rover.


After building multiple trials and road racing cars, Colin Chapman introduced his first ‘production’ car, the Lotus Mark VI, in 1952. The heart of the Mark VI was a space frame chassis. Rather than a complete car, it was available to the general public as kit, wherein the customer could install any preferred engine and gearbox, making it eligible for a wider number of formulae. The Mark VI in many ways reflected Chapman’s background in engineering: his designs resulted from a stress analysis of loads into the frame, they were extremely light (the 6′ space frame weighed only 55 lbs), and the suspension incorporated the latest advances. The prototype chassis was built up by the Progress Chassis Company and the aluminium body was constructed by panel beaters Williams and Prichard. (Both firms would later furnish bodies and chassis for subsequent models.) The cheap and easily available mechanical parts were sourced from the Ford Prefect. The Mark VI became a popular sight on Britain’s racetracks, and was a frequent winner, beating many more powerful and expensive cars, earning praise for very good handling and superior low-speed acceleration. An important facet of the success of the kit was Chapman’s offering a comprehensive package in the Mark VI, including most of the special parts needed, and not just the chassis. The Mark VI chassis came with mounting points for several different engines including the 1172cc Ford 10, the 1250 cc or 1500 cc MG TF, the 1500cc Consul, and the exalted Coventry Climax. Standardised as far as possible for volume production, some units were customised per the owners wishes. Lotus even modified the owner’s parts, if needed. When fitted with the 1172cc Ford engine, and a 3 speed gearbox, the car put out 50 bhp at 5000 rpm, and generated 57 lb/ft of torque, which gave the car a 0 – 60 time of 15 seconds and a top speed of 93 mph. The success of the Mark VI in competition and sales – 100 had been built by 1955 – established Chapman as a manufacturer of specialty cars.


Final version of the popular T Series sports car was the TF, launched on the 15 October 1953. Although it looked quite a bit different, this was really just a facelifted TD, fitted with the TD Mark II engine, headlights faired into the wings, a sloping radiator grille concealing a separate radiator, and a new pressurised cooling system along with a simulated external radiator cap. This XPAG engine’s compression ratio had been increased to 8.1:1 and extra-large valves with stronger valve springs and larger carburettors increased output to 57.5 bhp at 5,500 rpm. In mid-1954 the engine capacity was increased by 17 per cent to 1466 cc and designated XPEG. The bore was increased to 72 mm and compression raised to 8.3:1 giving 63 bhp at 5,000 rpm and a 17 per cent increase in torque. The car was now designated TF1500, and externally distinguished by a cream background enamel nameplate on both sides of the bonnet, placed just to the rear of the forward bonnet-release buttons. Production ended at chassis number TF10100 on 4 April 1955 after 9,602 TFs had been manufactured, including two prototypes and 3,400 TF1500s. A number of replica models have been built in more recent years, with the Naylor of the mid 1980s being perhaps the best known.


Hunched down, sitting on nothing more than a cushion so as to ensure he was as low a possible, and peering over the steering wheel through the thinnest of aero screens, test driver and engineer, Ken Richardson pressed on. Working up through the gears, he engaged overdrive via the dash-mounted switch. He pressed his right foot as far into the firewall as he physically could. Eyes darted between rapidly approaching horizon and the gauges within the dash. Clenched hands gripped the wheel, Richardson computing and reacting to every movement that they encountered. Small inputs. Nothing too big, nothing to upset the balance of the speeding car. And speeding it was. All told, the Triumph TR2 prototype Richardson was piloting had recorded an official average speed of 124.899mph. It had done it. It had set the record. Before you scoff and utter something about going faster on a track day, consider this – Richardson set that record in 1953. This was a time before HANS devices, before carbon composite safety cells, before plumbed in fire extinguishers and before supportive bucket seats and multi-point harnesses – in fact, as we mentioned, Richardson didn’t even have a seat! This was an age of man showing his mastery of machine or should we say showing a complete disregard for any notion of self-preservation. One of the two. And what of the car? Well, that’s what we’re here to talk about. The Triumph TR2. A car that, thanks to elegant design and the publicity that came of its top-speed record run, would go on to be the foundation on which all Triumph sports cars could build. The TR2 put Triumph on the sports car map. Prior to this, Triumph offered ponderous, wobbly cars that were of benefit only by the virtue of being marginally quicker than walking. The Triumph brand was not one you associated with excitement. Triumph did try to change that though, and as such it started to develop a new sports car in 1950, namely the TR-X. It was a beautiful, elegant and impressively technology-laden machine. The seats moved via an electro-hydraulic system, as did the windows and convertible top. It had on-board hydraulic jacks, the headlights recessed into the body, the rear wheels were enclosed with spats that followed the bodyline, it was a mightily beautiful machine. But, it was also prohibitively expensive to build, not to mention complicated. Mulliners refused to build it, as did Pininfarina and others. The project was dead before it started. Triumph head honcho, Sir John Black, wasn’t to be deterred by the failings of the TR-X, and so pushed ahead with the development of the 20TS, a 2.0 sports car that Black hoped would thwart the efforts of Morgan, which he’d tried to buy earlier. Two prototypes were built and shown at the 1952 London Motor Show. The reception was less than dazzling. The engine was okay, as was the front end, but the squat back and tiny interior left people disinterested. Then, when Ken Richardson test drove it, his damning appraisal of “bloody awful” put the final nail in the new car’s coffin. The TR2 was a longer, more elegant machine than the dubiously-dimensioned 20TS. It has a long ail, featuring a useable boot. There was a comfortable space inside for two people, the car was built on an all-new frame with revised suspension and brakes, it was the complete package. However, Triumph had been through the wringer with its first two stabs at the British sports car market, so it needed to do something big, something ground-breaking, if it was going to push the TR2 out into the world under the warming glow of positivity. The reception at the 1953 Geneva Motor Show was good, but it wasn’t enough for Sir John Black. He wanted to stun the world. And stun he would. Of the two cars built for Geneva, one was modified with a goal in mind – break the land speed record for a 2.0 production car. As such, the TR2 was fitted with aero screens, the bonnet was modified with more secure pins, an aluminium cover was fabricated to cover all but the driver’s portion of the cockpit, the rear wheels were enclosed into the bodywork, all to better aid aerodynamics. Sir Black, keen to get on with things, booked the Jabekke highway in Belgium for a day, and entrusted the driving to Ken Richardson. Initially there were grumblings about the test, with Richardson stating that it would need to be over a couple of days or more to account for weather. Sir Black was having none of that and pressed the team to get on with it. And it was there, on one fateful day, that Richardson delivered an average top speed of 124mph, a speed that was verified there and then by the timing experts of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium. And all in front of a gathering of motoring journalism’s movers and shakers. This was it; Triumph’s little car was in the spotlight. And that’s the very car you’re looking at here. Now owned by Triumph aficionado and professional restorer, Glen Hewitt, the baby Triumph is now every bit the car it was back in 1953. And that’s where the story gets even more interesting. To do this record-breaking run, Triumph obviously needed a car. The only TR2s it had were the show cars from Geneva, so as we explained earlier, one of the cars was lifted from show duties in favour of top speed glory. However, the Jebekke car was and still is more than it seems. Used for further research and development for a few years, the car was later sold to a private owner, a Mr. John Hedger, who chopped in a Ford Pop against the Triumph. The TR went through a couple of other owners, who unfortunately ran the car down to the point of needing complete restoration. In 1976, the car was stripped bare and boxed up with a view to being restored, but that didn’t happen. At least not until 2015 when Glen Hewitt, the car’s current owner, finally managed to purchase it. In doing so, Glenn knew he had something special, but little did he know just how special. As his company, Protek Engineering, set about the restoration they found strange things. The rear showed evidence of panels being riveted on, there was a lot of evidence of hand fabrication and there was even a cover plate for what it turned out was the mounting point for the single rear trailing arm as found on the 20TS. It was then that it dawned on Glen that the Jabekke car may in fact be one of the original TR2 prototypes, so a re-bodied 20TS if you will. And it makes sense. Materials were thin on the ground in the ‘50s, so Triumph wouldn’t have wanted to waste anything, so it would make perfect sense to re-purpose the 20TS prototypes. This just adds further enigma and legacy to what is already an incredibly special car. Now restored after hundreds and hundreds of man-hours, and once again resplendent in its factory shade of Geranium green, it is now the perfect restoration. Not one inch has been missed, not one stitch ignored. It is a work of art, and deservedly so. This car was and still is hugely important. It marks a turning point for Triumph that would serve to secure the company’s future for the following three decades, it’s a wheeled representation of British pluck and determination. The TR2 was, after the TR-X and the 20TS, the third stab at sports car glory, and for Triumph, that third try was, and most definitely still is, the charm.

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Donald Healey had been producing a range of expensive sports cars from the 1940s, cars such as the Silverstone, the Abbott and the Farnham. For the 1952 London Motor Show, he produced a new design, which was called the Healey Hundred, based on Austin A90 mechanicals, which he intended to produce in-house at his small car company in Warwick. It was one of the stars of the 1952 Show, and it so impressed Leonard Lord, the Managing Director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement to the unsuccessful A90. that Lord struck a deal with Healey on the spot, to build it in quantity. Bodies made by Jensen Motors would be given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100, in reference to the fact that the car had a top speed of 100 mph. Production got under way in 1953, with Austin-Healey 100s being finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. By early 1956, production was running at 200 cars a month, 150 of which were being sold in California. Between 1953 and 1956, 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced, the vast majority of them, as was the case for most cars in this post war era, going for export. The car was replaced by an updated model in 1956, called the 100-6. It had a longer wheelbase, redesigned bodywork with an oval shaped grille, a fixed windscreen and two occasional seats added (which in 1958 became an option with the introduction of the two-seat BN6 produced in parallel with the 2+2 BN4), and the engine was replaced by one based on the six-cylinder BMC C-Series engine. In 1959, the engine capacity was increased from 2.6 to 2.9 litres and the car renamed the Austin-Healey 3000. Both 2-seat and 2+2 variants were offered. It continued in this form until production ceased in late 1967. The Big Healey, as the car became known after the 1958 launch of the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite, is a popular classic now. You come across the 3000 models more frequently than the 100s, as they accounted for more than 60% of all Big Healey production, so it was nice to see an example of the latter here.

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There are so many Lotus Seven replicas and lookalikes on the road that sometimes it’s hard to remember what an original car looks like. Most that you see are Caterhams or Westfields, but there are dozens of similar cars, which I suppose is a tribute to the purity of its design. This is the real thing, a 1969 Lotus Seven S3. The first Seven appeared in 1957, followed by the Series II and then, in 1968, the Series III (S3). This twin-cam SS car is fitted with a Lotus-Holbay twin-cam engine that develops 120bhp. Not a lot you might say, but in a car weighing only 595kg it makes for very spirited performance!


This is a 1970 Jensen FF, Although based on the more commonly seen Interceptor, the FF is distinguished by a few styling cues, the most obvious being the twin (rather than single) diagonal air vents on the front wing, just rear of the wheel-arches. The frontal appearance was revised in September 1968. The main difference of course was one you could not see which is that the Jensen FF had standard four-wheel drive, the first non all-terrain production car so equipped, and an anti-lock braking system. The use of four-wheel drive in a passenger car preceded the successful AMC Eagle by thirteen years and the Audi Quattro by fourteen years, and the Subaru Leone by five years. The Dunlop Maxaret mechanical anti-lock braking system had previously been used only on aircraft, lorries, and racing cars. An experimental version was first fitted to the earlier Jensen C-V8, but this did not go into production. The letters FF stand for Ferguson Formula, after Ferguson Research Ltd., who invented the car’s four-wheel drive system. Although it was a highly innovative vehicle in a technical sense, the FF was not commercially successful. Its price was high — about 30% higher than the Jensen Interceptor, and more than that of luxury GTs from much more prestigious makers. The FF also suffered from a design problem, and not one easily cured: the system was set up for a driver in the right-hand seat, and no considerations had been made to making it left-hand drive. In particular, the central transfer case and both propeller shafts protruded into the left-hand seat space. The steering gear and brake servo were fitted on the right-hand side, and there was no space for them on the left. By the early 1970s, Jensen’s primary markets were in overseas markets where cars were driven on the right-hand side of the road. The FF could not be sold in the United States. In the UK a reputed 320 to 330 examples of the Jensen FF V8 model were made according to The Jensen Owners Club.

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First mid-engined road-going Lotus was the Europa. The concept originated during 1963 with drawings by Ron Hickman, director of Lotus Engineering (Designer of the original Lotus Elan, as well as inventor of the Black and Decker Workmate), for a bid on the Ford GT40 project. That contract went to Lola Cars as Colin Chapman wanted to call the car a Lotus and Henry Ford II insisted it would be called Ford. Chapman chose to use Hickman’s aerodynamic design which had a drag coefficient of Cd 0.29 for the basis for the Europa production model. The car was originally intended to succeed the Lotus 7. Volkswagen owned the rights to the Europa name in Germany so cars for sale in Germany were badged Europe rather than Europa. The original Europa used Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s minimalist steel backbone chassis that was first used in the Lotus Elan, while also relying on its fibreglass moulded body for structural strength. The four-wheel independent suspension was typical of Chapman’s thinking. The rear suspension was a modified Chapman strut, as used for Chapman’s earlier Formula racing car designs. Owing to the rubber suspension bushes used to isolate engine vibration from the car body, the true Chapman strut’s use of the drive shaft as the lower locating link could not be followed whilst still giving the precise track and handling desired. The forward radius arms were increased in size and rigidity, to act as a semi-wishbone. A careful compromise between engine mounting bush isolation and handling was required, culminating eventually in a sandwich bush that was flexible against shear but stiff in compression and tension. The car’s handling prompted automotive writers to describe the Europa as the nearest thing to a Formula car for the road. Aside from the doors, bonnet, and boot, the body was moulded as a single unit of fibreglass. The first cars has Renault 1470cc engines, and suffered from a number of quality issues as well as limited visibility. An S2, released in 1968 brought improvements to the build quality, but Lotus knew that the Renault engine was not powerful enough for what they thought the car could achieve on track and on the road, so the Europa underwent another update in 1971 when the Type 74 Europa Twin Cam was made available to the public, with a 105 bhp 1557cc Lotus-Ford Twin Cam engine and a re-designed bodyshell to improve rearward visibility. Initially with the same gearbox as the earlier cars, once the supply had been exhausted in 1972 a new stronger Renault four-speed gearbox was introduced. Mike Kimberley, who rose to become chief executive of Group Lotus, then a new engineer at Lotus, was appointed Chief Engineer of the Europa TC project. 1,580 cars were shipped as Europa “Twin Cam” before Lotus switched to a 126 bhp “Big Valve” version of the engine. The big valve “Europa Special” version was aspirated by Dell’Orto carburettors version of the same engine; in addition it also offered a new Renault five-speed (Type 365) gearbox option. It weighed 740 kg (1631 lb), Motor magazine famously tested a UK Special to a top speed of 123 mph, did 0–60 mph in 6.6 seconds, and ran the 1/4 mile in 14.9 sec. This at a time when all road tests were carried out with both a driver and passenger, with only the driver on board the 0–60 mph time would have been well under 6 seconds, a phenomenal performance for the period. Introduced in September 1972 the first 100 big valve cars were badged and painted to honour the just won Team Lotus’ 1972 F1 World Championship title with John Player Special as sponsors, all with five-speed gearbox, these were all black with gold pin stripe matching the livery of the GP cars – plus a numbered JPS dash board badge, becoming the first ever John Player Special commemorative motor vehicles. The “Special” name and colour scheme was planned to be dropped after the first 200 cars, reverting to the Twin Cam name, but such was the reaction to the new car that the name and pin stripe scheme remained until the end of Europa Production although colours other than black were made available. In the end only the numbered plaque distinguishing the first 100 JPS cars from other black Europa Specials. According to Lotus sources, no Special left the factory with “numbered JPS badges” or “JPS stickers” – these were added by the American importer & weren’t official done by Lotus. There were no “badged” cars sold in the UK, Australia, etc, just in the USA. In total 4710 Type 74s were produced of which 3130 were “Specials”.

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This one of four Aston Martin Vanquish created for the 20th James Bond film Die Another Day. Created by EON productions who had produced the DB5 40 years earlier for the film Goldfinger. The cars are equipped with 007 gadgets that include, a pair of machine guns that pop through the bonnet vents, four heat seeking missiles and a pair of shotguns that operate through the radiator grille. Each car is four wheel drive, utilising a Ford Explorer front differential and drive shafts, and a Ford V8 engine to allow enough room for the rockets. This particular car was used for the chase sequence in the films opening scene on an ice lake and is equipped with a special gearbox, allowing the car to travel at 100mph in reverse as well as forwards.


The McLaren MP4 12C was the first ever production car wholly designed and built by McLaren, and their first production road car produced since the McLaren F1, which ended production in 1998. McLaren started developing the car in 2007 and secretly purchased a Ferrari 360 to use as a test mule. The mule called MV1 was used to test the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The car also featured side vents for additional cooling which were later incorporated in the final production model. Later in the year, the company purchased an Ultima GTR to test the braking system and suspension components, that mule was called the MV2. The space frame and body of that car were modified in order to accommodate the new components. Later another prototype was purchased which was another Ferrari 360 dubbed the MV3 which was used to test the exhaust system. McLaren then built two prototypes themselves called CP1 and CP2 incorporating the Carbon Monocell monocoque which were used for testing the heat management system and performance. The MP4-12C features a carbon fibre composite chassis, and is powered by a longitudinally-mounted Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout McLaren M838T 3.8 litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, developing approximately 600 PS (592 bhp) at 7500 rpm and around 600 N⋅m (443 lbf⋅ft) of torque at 5600 rpm. The car makes use of Formula 1-sourced technologies such as “brake steer”, where the inside rear wheel is braked during fast cornering to reduce understeer. Power is transmitted to the wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The entire drivetrain is the first to be entirely designed and produced in house by McLaren. The chassis is based around a F1 style one-piece carbon fibre tub, called the Carbon MonoCell, weighing only 80 kg (176 lb). The MonoCell is made in a single pressing by using a set of patented processes, using Bi-Axial and Tri-Axial carbon fibre multiaxial fabrics produced by Formax UK Ltd. with the MonoCell manufactured by Carbo Tech in Salzburg, Austria. This has reduced the time required to produce a MonoCell from 3,000 hours for the F1 and 500 hours for the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, to 4 hours for the MP4-12C. The McLaren MP4-12C utilizes a unique hydraulic configuration to suspend the vehicle as opposed to more traditional coil springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. What McLaren has called “ProActive Chassis Control,” the system consists of an array of high and low pressure valves interconnected from both left to right and front to back, and the typical anti-roll bars were omitted entirely. When high pressure meets high pressure under roll conditions, stiffness results; and subsequently when high pressure meets low under heave and warp, more give is allowed, ultimately providing a firmer, competent suspension setup in spirited driving, and a very plush, compliant and comfortable ride when moving at slower, constant speeds. The car has a conventional two side-by-side seating arrangement, unlike its predecessor the McLaren F1 which featured an irregular three seat formation (front centre, two behind either side). To make up for this however, the car’s central console is narrower than in other cars, seating the driver closer to the centre. Interior trim and materials can be specified in asymmetric configuration – known as “Driver Zone”. The final car was unveiled to the public on 9 September 2009 before the company’s launch in 2010. A convertible version of the car called the MP4-12C Spider, as added to the range in 2012. The name’s former prefix ‘MP4’ has been the chassis designation for all McLaren Formula 1 cars since 1981. ‘MP4′ stands for McLaren Project 4 as a result of the merger between Ron Dennis’ Project 4 organisation with McLaren. The ’12’ refers to McLaren’s internal Vehicle Performance Index through which it rates key performance criteria both for competitors and for its own cars. The criteria combine power, weight, emissions, and aerodynamic efficiency. The coalition of all these values delivers an overall performance index that has been used as a benchmark throughout the car’s development. The ‘C’ refers to Carbon, highlighting the application of carbon fibre technology to the future range of McLaren sports cars. At the end of 2012, the name of the MP4-12C was reduced to 12C – that name is usually used when referring to the coupe, the open-top version now being called the 12C Spider.

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Close to the semi-circle of cars was a three-tier construction which houses three iconic British sports cars of the 60s and 70s, all much-loved and popular classics these days. Two of them are the last models produced – one of the final MG Midgets produced in 1979 and painted in black and a Triumph Spitfire in Inca Yellow.


The TR6 was the first Triumph for some time not to have been styled by Michelotti. By the mid 1960s, money was tight, so when it came to replacing the TR4 and TR5 models, Triumph were forced into trying to minimise the costs of the redesign, which meant that they kept the central section of the old car, but came up with new bodywork with the front and back ends were squared off, reportedly based on a consultancy contract involving Karmann. The resulting design, which did look modern when it was unveiled in January 1969 has what is referred to as a Kamm tail, which was very common during 1970s era of cars and a feature on most Triumphs of the era. All TR6 models featured inline six-cylinder engines. For the US market the engine was carburetted, as had been the case for the US-only TR250 engine. Like the TR5, the TR6 was fuel-injected for other world markets including the United Kingdom, hence the TR6PI (petrol-injection) designation. The Lucas mechanical fuel injection system helped the home-market TR6 produce 150 bhp at model introduction. Later, the non-US TR6 variant was detuned to 125 bhp for it to be easier to drive, while the US variant continued to be carburetted with a mere 104 hp. Sadly, the Lucas injection system proved somewhat troublesome, somewhat denting the appeal of the car. The TR6 featured a four-speed manual transmission. An optional overdrive unit was a desirable feature because it gave drivers close gearing for aggressive driving with an electrically switched overdrive which could operate on second, third, and fourth gears on early models and third and fourth on later models because of constant gearbox failures in second at high revs. Both provided “long legs” for open motorways. TR6 also featured semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, 15-inch wheels and tyres, pile carpet on floors and trunk/boot, bucket seats, and a full complement of instrumentation. Braking was accomplished by disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. A factory steel hardtop was optional, requiring two people to fit it. TR6 construction was fundamentally old-fashioned: the body was bolted onto a frame instead of the two being integrated into a unibody structure; the TR6 dashboard was wooden (plywood with veneer). Other factory options included a rear anti-roll bar and a limited-slip differential. Some say that the car is one of Leyland’s best achievements, but a number of issues were present and remain because of poor design. As well as the fuel injection problems, other issues include a low level radiator top-up bottle and a poor hand-brake. As is the case with other cars of the era, the TR6 can suffer from rust issues, although surviving examples tend to be well-cared for. The TR6 can be prone to overheating. Many owners fit an aftermarket electric radiator fan to supplement or replace the original engine-driven fan. Also the Leyland factory option of an oil cooler existed. Despite the reliability woes, the car proved popular, selling in greater quantity than any previous TR, with 94,619 of them produced before production ended in mid 1976. Of these, 86,249 were exported and only 8,370 were sold in the UK. A significant number have since been re-imported, as there are nearly 3000 of these much loved classics on the road and a further 1300 on SORN, helped by the fact that parts and services to support ownership of a TR6 are readily available and a number of classic car owners’ clubs cater for the model.




This is a 1949 Land Rover Tickford Station Wagon. The first fully-enclosed Land Rovers were hand-built from wood and aluminium with factory approval by coachbuilding firm Tickford and were very expensive vehicles aimed at well-heeled country gentlemen. A cheaper factory-produced station wagon was soon introduced and the Tickford discontinued after less than 700 were built, all but 50 of which were exported, making them very sought-after in enthusiast circles today.

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One of the more outlandish Land Rover conversions was this one by Cuthbertson of Biggar, designed to cope with even more difficult terrain than the standard vehicle, specifically boggy conditions. They were built by dropping a standard long-wheelbase Series II without wheels onto a subframe with tracked bogies; The bogies are mounted onto their own “frame” which is then attached to the underside of the existing Land Rover set up via mounting plates at the centre of each leaf spring. It is not clear how many were made originally but estimates are that 10 to 12 survive. The low angle of the photo emphasises the extra height and also in view is what appears to be a front-mounted power take-off that is right at knee level!


This is a 101 Forward Control, a vehicle produced by Land Rover for the British Army. It was never made available to the public. The vehicle was primarily produced to meet the Army’s requirement for a gun tractor, and was designed to tow a field gun (the L118 Light Gun) with a ton of ammunition and other equipment in the rear load space, giving it the alternative name of the Land Rover One Tonne. The vehicle was designed to be easily transported by air; the positioning of the 3.5 litre Rover V8 engine beneath and to the rear of the cab eliminates the bonnet at the front, making the vehicle more or less cuboid thus reducing unused space in transport aircraft. Of concern was the payload and limited stability, particularly when crossing an incline. The official name of 101 Forward Control is derived from the vehicle’s 101-inch wheelbase, and the position of the driver, above and slightly in front of the front wheels which used a fairly large 9.00 × 16 inch tyre. To cope with the extra height above the ground, the wheels feature an unusual feature for a Land Rover (but used for many years on the much older and similar Mercedes Unimog S404); a flange around the centre of the wheel has an embossed tread pattern forming a step for the crew when entering the cab, named a wheel-step. Development of the 101FC started in 1967, with a design team led by Norman Busby (14 October 1931 – 30 June 2005). Production took place between 1972 and 1978. In common practice of the armed forces, many vehicles were not used for some years and it is not unheard of for military vehicle enthusiasts to pick up these vehicles after only a few thousand miles service. All the vehicles produced at the Land Rover factory at Lode Lane, Solihull were soft top (“rag top”) General Service (GS) gun tractors, although later on many were rebuilt with hard-top ambulance bodies and as radio communication trucks. A rare variant is the electronic warfare Vampire body. It is thought that only 21 of these were produced and less than half of these survive today. One was destroyed in the Buncefield Oil Terminal Fire. The 101FC also served with the RAF Regiment. Two 101s were allocated to each Rapier Missile set up. The British RAF Rapier system used three Land-Rovers in deployment: a 24V winch fitted 101 Firing Unit Tractor (FUT) to tow the launch trailer, loaded with four Rapier missiles, guidance equipment and radio; a 12V winch fitted 101 Tracking Radar Tractor (TRT) to tow the Blindfire Radar trailer, also loaded with four Rapier missiles and guidance equipment; and a 109 Land Rover to tow a reload trailer with 9 Rapier missiles and loaded with the unit’s other supplies and kit. The 101FC also served in an ambulance role, with ambulance bodywork built by Marshall of Cambridge. The 101FC was manufactured in both left and right hand drive with either 12 or 24 volt electrical systems. Some 101FCs were produced with a PTO powered Nokken capstan winch mounted on the chassis at the centre of the vehicle, allowing winching from either the front or rear. Another variation on a small number of pre-production vehicles was the addition of a trailer with an axle driven from the PTO, creating a 6×6 vehicle, this adaptation was abandoned before full production when it was discovered that the trailer had a propensity to push the vehicle onto its side when driven over rough terrain. By the late 1990s, the 101s were decommissioned by the MoD and were replaced with Defenders and Pinzgauer vehicles. Many 101s have entered into private ownership.

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This the car that created the entire SUV market sector, the first Range Rover. Now in the Heritage collection at Gaydon, YVB 153H was the first production vehicle off the line and formed part of the batch used for pre-launch testing. For this purpose they were badged as ‘Velar’, a fictional marque invented by Rover to throw the press off the scent and keep the car’s real identity secret until its launch.

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The new Range Rover was the chosen vehicle for an expedition that set out to do something that had never been done before: cross the entire American continent from Anchorage, Alaska to Cape Horn off the southern coast of Chile. The main obstacle was the jungle of the Darien Gap between Panama City and Colombia, and it took three months to cover just 250 miles but the Range Rovers made it through where no car had ever been before. VXC 868K was one of the two vehicles used on the expedition.


2008 saw Land Rover’s 60th anniversary, for which a new series of special edition Defenders were produced. Branded the “SVX”, three models were built. All were painted black with “satin” effect body graphics on the vehicles’ sides and bonnet carrying the “60th” logo used throughout 2008 at various special events and on anniversary merchandise. Bespoke five-spoke alloy wheels were used and a new silver-coloured front grille design was used. This also incorporated a new design of headlamp with the sidelight lamp being integral with the main headlamp unit, allowing the space previously used for the separate sidelight to be used to fit a pair of high-intensity driving lamps. Inside the SVX models gained Recaro bucket seats in the front row, alloy gearlever knobs and a Garmin GPS navigation system. The drivetrain was the standard 2.4-litre diesel and six-speed manual permanent four-wheel-drive transmission. The SVX edition was available as a 110 (only available outside the UK), a 90 and a brand-new design of 90 soft top- the first time a soft-top model had been available through showrooms in the UK since 1992. SVX soft tops had only the two front seats- the rear load bay being used to accommodate the spare wheel and a lockable storage box. A new design of hood was used, sloping down towards the rear over a jointed folding frame, unlike the standard square-framed hood used on other soft top Land Rovers. (This unit comes with a 2.4-litre diesel Ford DuraTorq “5 cylinder” engine). A I5 turbo intercooled engine. The larger capacity 5-cylinder units use the Power Stroke branding when installed in North American-market vehicles.


Unveiled at the 2004 North American Motor Show the Range Stormer concept had cost 1.5 million euro to develop. Featuring a super charged V8 it was also the most powerful Land Rover to date. The car features a low roofline, bonnet power bulge, 22 inch forged allot wheels, slim line roof panels with a glass roof. The electrically operated doors are two piece the upper half hinging up and forwards with the lower half dropping to provide a step into the cabin. The electrically operated rear tailgate is also two piece with the upper half lifting and the lower dropping behind the bumper to give easy access. The floor compartment rises and lowers electronically to improve capacity and fitted leather bags are incorporated into the side walls. The Head lamps have ‘crushed ice’ glass lenses and bi-Xenon bulbs, the lights swivel with the steering wheel to aid cornering vision. Side mounted LEDs illuminate at appropriate steering wheel angles to further aid vision. The cabin is dominated by leather, oak wood and aluminium with dark saddle leather used in the seats the dash and centre console. Despite lots of pressure to produce the car as presented, it did not go ahead directly, but there is a clear link to the first Range Rover Sport.

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The second circle of display cars focused on motor sport and comprised a variety of cars with competition history, some rather better known than others.

In the winter of 1907/08 Austin built four cars to enter in the 1908 French Grand Prix. Two shaft and two chain driven cars. Both shaft driven cars crashed in practice and the parts used to build this shaft driven car. All three cars started the race driven by Warwick Wright, Dario Resta, and J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon (later Lord Brabazon of Tara who went on to hold the first ever British pilots licence), Warwick Wright was forced to retire with a seized engine, while the cars of Moore-Brabazon and Dario Resta finished 18th and 19th respectively and were also the highest place British cars. This is the Moore-Brabazon car the only survivor of the team. The cars shared many parts with the then current Austin 60hp touring car and were no match for the continental racers. Afterwards the cars were sold on as fast tourers. This example was owned for a number of years by Sir Hickman-Bacon the premier baronet of England. He had a special touring body built, which he could detach leaving the car as a two seater. The champion boxer Jack Johnson was also an owner of the remodelled cars. This car also featured in the 1984 film Greystoke, The Legend of Tarzan starring Christopher Lambert.


Built by the Morris distributor for Wales, H.R. Wellstead using a modified Morris Oxford chassis, the rear springs were converted to Semi-elliptic in place of the original three quarters and the engine was modified. The Bullnose radiator was was fitted with a streamlined cowl and the artillery wheels replaced by wires. The streamlined body had originally been fitted to a Gwynne Eight. Raced regularly at Brooklands the Red Flash achieved a standing lap record of 78mph. The car was in the possession of the Wellstead family until 1961 when it was donated to Morris Motors.

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With the resumption of civilian car production post WW1, Austin implented a one make policy, with the introduction of the large luxurious and impressive Austin Twenty in 1919. Known as Austin’s American Car due to its incorporation of a new fangled central gearchange, and coil ignition, possibly influenced by the American Hudson Herbert Austin had used during the war years. The Twenty though proved difficult to manufacture economically and the price could not be kept down to the advertised price of £ 485. Asituation that became hopeless with the imposition of the post war horse power tax.. Forcing Austin to introduce the much more economical Austin Seven and Twelve models. With the Twenty becoming a chauffuer driven luxury model, more often seen sporting formal coachwork on its long chassis. This car is a 1922 car, bought second-hand bought in 1932 for 33 (thirty three pounds) by a Mr. Filby. A somewhat adventurous motorist Mr. Filb yembarked on a round trip from London to Capetown and back covering some 37,000 miles along the way and encountering no serious incidents. On his return Austin bought the car back and publicised the achievement as a fine example of Austin’s dependability. It was restored by Hartwells of Oxfordshire


This is the 1938 Issigonis Lightweight Special, a single seat racing car, a one of car built by Alec Issigonis who at the time was working for Humber. The basis for the car was Austin Seven parts. He would later be responsible for designing the legendary Mini.


It was great to see an ERA on display here. A very small number of these cars were built, specifically for racing in the 1930s and all the cars have an extensive history which continues to the present day, where many of them can still be seen in action at historic events. This one is R8C. Like most cars of this era, it has had a chequered past. Originally, it was R8B, and was bought new by Earl Howe in 1936. After some successes with the car, he joined the works team in 1937. After a serious crash at Brooklands that year the car was upgraded to C specification and Earl Howe continued to enjoy success with it, now called R8C, until right to the end of his racing career at the outbreak of WWII. It was rebuilt in 1983 to the 1938/39 specification. The car’s long standing owner died in 2013, and it has passed to his son, so it is still seen in action.


This 1955 Austin A90 Westminster is the car which Richard Pape drove 17,500 miles from North Cape in Norway to Cape Town, South Africa, the first ever journey on this route.


This 1959 Austin-Healey 3000 rally car, originally registered SJB 471, was the first 3000 off the production line and was used by the works rally team. After a successful career it was sold off by the BMC Competitions Department, but was subsequently bought by Unipart and used in historic rallies before being placed on loan to Gaydon.


This is a 1959 Austin Se7en Mini Downton. Downton Engineering was a respected tuning firm who started tweaking Minis even before John Cooper. This early example was personally owned by Downton founder Daniel Richmond, who used it in a number of sprints and saloon car races, and was taken over after his premature death by his widow, who left it to the BMIHT in her will.

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Second only to 621 AOK, 33 EJB is one of the most famous Minis of all. It was driven to victory in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally by Paddy Hopkirk, the first Mini to win this historic event. Displayed with it was a second Mini Cooper S. This is the Mini which won the Monte Carlo Rally again in 1965, with AJB 44B driven by Timo Makinen. This was one of the first 1275cc Cooper S cars, 33 EJB being a 1071cc version.

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Another of the most famous Mini’s in the world, this is the Works Rally 1967 Monte Carlo winning Mini LBL6D #177, driven by Henry Liddon & Renee Altonen.


The Cooper T51 was a Formula One and Formula Two racing car designed by Owen Maddock and built by the Cooper Car Company for the 1959 Formula One season. The T51 earned a significant place in motor racing history when Jack Brabham drove the car to become the first driver to win the World Championship of Drivers with an engine mounted behind them, in 1959. The T51 was raced in several configurations by various entrants until 1963 and in all no less than 38 drivers were entered to drive T51s in Grand Prix races. Aesthetically and aerodynamically, the T51 was a natural development of the T43 and T45 that had given Cooper their first two wins. The Coopers continued their practice of building spaceframe chassis that ignored orthodox design thinking in having several curved links and the mid-engine layout meant weight savings and aerodynamic advantages over front-engined cars, which typically had separate gearbox and differential cases, and had to find room for propshafts to the rear wheels. Also the location of the fuel tanks on either side of the cockpit rather than at the rear meant the car handled more consistently with different fuel loads, a vital factor during races which lasted up to three hours. One notable throwback, however, was the car’s leaf spring rear suspension, although it used a more modern coil spring and wishbone setup at the front. The standard F1 T51 was the first Cooper powered by the 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine which Cooper and Lotus had commissioned Coventry Climax to build specifically for their rear-engined machines. The pioneering nature of this configuration created problems of its own, since there were so few rear-engined production cars from which a gearbox could be sourced. This shortage eventually created a niche in the market which paved the way for Hewland’s prominence, but in the meantime many different solutions were tried, with varying degrees of success. The works Coopers were fitted with modified Citroen gearboxes, while Rob Walker’s team ran bespoke units from Italian specialist Valerio Colotti, although these proved much more fragile. In all, eight different engines were used in the back of T51s in championship races, with 2.2- and 1.5-litre Climax engines in addition to the standard 2.5: Scuderia Centro Sud and others used 2.5 and 1.5-litre engines from Maserati; the British Racing Partnership team used F2 powerplants from Borgward; Scuderia Eugenio Castellotti used their own Ferrari-derived 2.5-litre units; and one car used a Ferrari 2-litre engine lifted from a 625LM. The T51 had already won the Glover Trophy at Goodwood and the Silverstone International Trophy before it made its first World Championship appearance in the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix, with no less than eight examples entered. The Cooper works team fielded Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and Masten Gregory, Stirling Moss and Maurice Trintignant were entered by Rob Walker, two 1.5-litre F2 cars were entered by Equipe Nationale Belge for Lucien Bianchi and Alain de Changy, with Ivor Bueb driving another F2 machine. Only the five 2.5-litre cars qualified, with Stirling Moss in pole position (Cooper’s first) and Brabham starting in third place. Jean Behra took the lead at the start, but after his Ferrari developed engine problems after 21 laps the Coopers dominated, with Moss and Brabham running first and second until Moss’s transmission gave up the ghost 19 laps from the end. Brabham cruised to his first World Championship win with Trintignant third and McLaren fifth. From Monaco on Cooper’s season went from strength to strength, with Brabham leading the championship from start to finish. Brabham took his second win in the British Grand Prix, before Moss took a brace in Portugal and Italy and dominated the non-championship Gold Cup. By the final race at Sebring Cooper already had the Constructors’ Championship in the bag, but the Drivers Championship was still up for grabs. Moss needed to beat Brabham and finish second or better to take the title, while Ferrari’s Tony Brooks had a mathematical chance but needed both the win and fastest lap. Moss sprinted into the lead from pole position with Brabham in pursuit. After five laps Moss was a commanding ten seconds ahead, before his gearbox gave way again. Brabham led right up to the final lap, when a poor decision on Brabham’s part meant he ran out of fuel. He managed to push his car across the line in fourth, but Cooper still won the race as Bruce McLaren became the youngest winner in Formula One history (a record he held until surpassed by Fernando Alonso in 2003), leaving Brabham the Drivers’ Champion. Cooper travelled down to the 1960 Argentine Grand Prix seemingly at the peak of their powers, and Trintignant won the Buenos Aires F1 event that preceded the main championship race. However this turned out to be the last major win for a T51, as the speed of the new Lotus 18 began to dominate. On the journey back, John Cooper made his mind up that to stay at the front he needed to build a new car, and at the next championship race at Monaco the lowline T53 made its debut. In the meantime Moss took the Walker T51 to second in the Glover Trophy and qualified on pole position for the International Trophy before retiring with wishbone failure. Rob Walker had already bought a Lotus 18 for Moss, but the Englishman was to miss a large part of the season through injuries sustained when his notoriously fragile Lotus lost a wheel at speed in Belgium. Cooper entered the T51 just three more times, with ex-Scarab driver Chuck Daigh and journeyman Ron Flockhart retiring each time.


Built for the short lived Group B rally category, the car was a world away from the BL. Metro super-mini from which it took the name. Featuring a mid-mounted engine, with four wheel drive transmission enclosed in a seam welded tubular chassis, with the developement entrusted to Williams Grand Prix Engineering. The car was first shown in May 1985 and was powered by a bespoke three litre V6 engine which used some of the engine architecture of the Cosworth DFV. It featured twin overhead cam shafts and four valves per cylinder, though not turbocharged as were most of its competition. Mounted south to north (backwards), in mid-ship with a permanently engaged four wheel drive, driving separate propshafts to the front and rear differentials. Most of the body was of GRP with an aluminium roof panel and steel doors. The car appeared in two guises the road going Clubman version with around 250bhp of which around 200 were sold to the public (£ 40,000) for homologation purposes, and around 20 competition cars which had an output up to 410bhp. The cars faced stiff competition in the Group B sector and despite a promising start to their programme Austin Rover withdrew, from the rallying scene at the end of 1987. Though they have since proved formidable in rallycross. Following the cancellation of the programme all parts and engines were sold to Tom Walkinshaw Racing, where upon the V6 engine reappeared with turbochargers in the Jaguar XJ220.


The TVR Tuscan series was introduced in 1999, powered by TVR’s own 4.0 litre 6 cylinder engine. With plenty of power, aggressive looks and lightweight carbon fibre bodies many were destined to go racing. This competition model the T400R this was the first of seven chassis produced in 2001 specifically for racing. In the hands of owner John Hartshorne this car contested the 2001, 02 and 03 British GT Championships followed by a three year stint in the Le Mans Endurance series. 7th in class in the 2005 Le Mans 24 hour it was the last TVR to contest this classic event.

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This is a 1978 March-Triumph 783. In the late 1970s the March Formula 3 team was sponsored by Unipart and used a tuned version of the 16-valve slant-four engine from the Triumph Dolomite Sprint. This car, still owned by Unipart and on indefinite loan to Gaydon, was used by Nigel Mansell in his very first race in an open-wheel championship.

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Dating from 1970 was this 3 litre V8 engined March-Ford 701, the first Formula One car from March engineering, then a new constructor based at Bicester in Oxfordshire. The name an acronym from the names of its founders Max Moseley (now FIA President), Alan Rees, Graham Coaker, and Robin Herd (the designer and then ex-McLaren). March entered the Grand Prix arena as a works team in 1970 but also sold the chassis to Ken Tyrell’s team which included World Champion Driver Jackie Stewart. In 1969 Tyrell had run Matra Fords that had taken both driver and constructors championships but Matras new owner Chrysler had insisted the 1970 Matra should have its own V12 engine. Preferring the Ford Cosworth DFV engine Tyrell had turned to March taking with him his French Blue and Elf sponsorship. The 701’s results were variable but Stewart took this 701 to 2nd place at both Zandvoort, in the Dutch grand Prix and Monza in the Italian GP he won the Spanish Grand Prix in Jarama in a sister 701. Tyrell had their own new design for 1971 so the partnership lasted only one year.

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There are three fabulous MG Record Breaker Cars here, the EX 135 of 1938, MG EX 179 of 1954 and EX 181 of 1957. This remarkable trio continuously set class records between 1938 and 1959 in engine sizes from 350cc to 1506cc. The EX 181 still holds the the reputation as being the fastest MG ever when driven by Phil Hill to 254.91 mph at Bonneville in 1959.


The MG EX 179 record car has its origins in 1952 with the creation of the first two MGA prototypes. The EX 172, one was modified with a small windscreen and a full belly pan but the results proved disappointing. Renamed EX 179 it was given its fully streamlined body and other mods. In 1954 it was sent to the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA for an assault on the Class F records. Driven by Goerge Eyston it achieved seven International Records including a record of 153mph and a twelve hour record of of 120.74mph. Reconfigured in 1956 with a BMC B series 1500cc engine it went on again to set multiple records.

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Oldest of the trio was the EX135. Following independent attempts on the class G (1100cc) records in MG’s firstly by Goerge Eyston then by Goldie Gardiner. Cecil Kimber of MG and Lord Nuffield contacted Gardiner with the idea of creating a works prepared record car. Reid A Railton was called upon to design a fully enclosed streamlined body, built at Abingdon in 1938, and mounted on Gardener’s successful K3 based car and it was unveiled to the press in July 1938. On its first appearance on the Frankfurt Autobahn in November 1938 the new Class G records (1100cc) were set at 187.57 for the Kilometre and 187.61 for the mile. This was just the start of this cars remarkable career that stretched to 1952 and included 750cc, 500cc and 350cc records. The car claimed 30 records.


In 1959 Phil Hill drove the fastest MG ever setting a record speed of 254.91 mph in the record breaking streamliner EX 181. EX 255 was built in order to attack that record, featuring a 4797cc Rover V8 engine and constructed from a steel tube spaceframe. The special body was built by Mayflower of Coventry. The car uses standard doors and front wings of an MGF but other panels are specially constructed of carbon fibre. The engine was specially prepared by Janspeed and mounted behind the driver, transmission is a six speed sequential system. The car has special tyres, uprated disc brakes and two parachutes. Land Speed Record holder Richard Green was chosen to drive it, but the 1998 attempt was thwarted with problems with the cars supercharger. The team returned to Bonneville in 1999 with a more reliable twin turbocharger unit but this time clutch problems meant that the attempt ran out of time.

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The only bus in the display, at least at the time of this visit, this 1923 AEC S Type is on long-term loan from the London Transport Museum. The S-type was introduced by AEC in 1920 to supplement the smaller K-type and this one was built in 1923. By this time most provincial double-deckers had enclosed cabs and roofed top decks but the Metropolitan Police’s refusal to accept such things hindered progress in the capital.


This 1921 Morris Oxford “Silent Six” was used by William Morris as his personal car but also the only survivor of one of Morris Motors rare failures. The chassis was a lengthened version of the four cylinder Bullnose Cowley and Oxford and shared as many components as possible with its little brothers. Much of its extra length is taken up by the lengthened engine, but its coachwork is the most luxurious of any Bullnose with many body details reminiscent of GWR railways furnishings. William Morris had been very keen to have a six cylinder model in the Morris range but in the end only about fifty of these Silent Sixes were built. The chief mechanical problem came with the cars ability to regularly break crank shafts, which it shared with the four cylinder and in truth was not up to the job of coping with the rigours of the bigger engine. It all proved a very costly car for Morris to build., and the decision was taken to drop the model in favour of concentrating on cheaper family cars which were becoming the companies bread and butter. In 1921 this car was priced at £ 575. its 2322cc six cylinder engine produced 39bhp giving a top speed of 60 mph.


This is a 1935 Westchester Caravan, complete with period accessories.


This 1946 Austin Sixteen is the millionth Austin to be built and was signed by all the workers involved at the time. The Austin Sixteen was Austin’s first new post war model, sharing nothing with the pre-war Austin Sixteen. Powered by an all new straight four overhead valve engine of 2199cc of 67 bhp, said to have a top speed of 75mph, but with steady acceleration and an overall fuel figure of 25mpg. The new car shared the body of the pre-war Austin Twelve which continued post war alongside the pre-war Eight and Twelve.


Launched in 1955, the TR3 was an evolution of the TR2 and not a brand new model. It was powered by a 1991 cc straight-4 OHV engine initially producing 95 bhp, an increase of 5 hp over the TR2 thanks to the larger SU-H6 carburettors fitted. This was later increased to 100 bhp at 5000 rpm by the addition of a “high port” cylinder head and enlarged manifold. The four-speed manual gearbox could be supplemented by an overdrive unit on the top three ratios, electrically operated and controlled by a switch on the dashboard. In 1956 the front brakes were changed from drums to discs, the TR3 thus becoming the first British series production car to be so fitted. The TR3 was updated in 1957, with various changes of which the full width radiator grille is the easiest recognition point and the facelifted model is commonly referred to as the Triumph “TR3A”, though unlike the later TR4 series, where the “A” suffix was adopted, the cars were not badged as such and the “TR3A” name was not used officially, Other updates included exterior door handles, a lockable boot handle and the car came with a full tool kit as standard (this was an option on the TR3). The total production run of the “TR3A” was 58,236. This makes it the third best-selling TR after the TR6 and TR7. The TR3A was so successful that the original panel moulds eventually wore out and had to be replaced. In 1959 a slightly modified version came out that had raised stampings under the bonnet and boot hinges and under the door handles, as well as a redesigned rear floor section. In addition, the windscreen was attached with bolts rather than the Dzus connectors used on the early “A” models. Partly because it was produced for less time, the original TR3 sold 13,377 examples, of which 1286 were sold within the UK; the rest being exported mainly to the USA. Seen with this TR3b was a small-sized pedal car version.


This 1972 Reliant Regal Supervan 3 is one of several vans supplied to the BBC by Action Vehicles for the BBC hit comedy series ‘Only Fools and Horses’. Under the peeling yellow paint work blue paint is showing from when it appeared in Rowan Atkinson’s ‘Mr Bean’. This vehicle later returned back to Peckham for the 1996 Only Fools and Horses Christmas Special.

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This Fire Engine was built in 1953 by the Engineering Division of Morris Motors, using the prototype chassis of the new Morris Minor quarter ton van. Originally fitted with a side valve engine it was later modified with a overhead valve BMC A series. Built to fulfil the requirements of 1932 that a Fire Fighting appliance should be able to travel between assembly tracks. The previous engine had been retired after twenty years service. This Morris Minor took over until 1983 before it was transferred to the reserve fleet, finally being retired in 1990.

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This is what is known as a “body in white” for the Austin 1100.


The Th!nk City is an electric city car that was produced by Norwegian car-maker Think Global, developed durimg Ford’s ownership of the company. initially in very limited numbers between 2001-02. It is powered by an electric nickel cadmium (NiCD) batteries and was said to have a range of 55 miles from a full charge. For re-charging the ever so lucky customers can plug into a domestic plug and will re-charge in 9.5 to 10 hours. pretty groovy for a 22 mile journey. The car has a steel underframe and the upper half of the car is an aluminium spaceframe. The body panels are made of eco-friendly plastic, designed to resist scratches and nicks (envy lines). The car weighs in at 1065kg and has a 200kg passenger payload. THINK City was introduced into the UK in 2001 as part of the THINK @BOUT LONDON (subsidised) scheme. Fifteen cars were leased to companies and rinky dink Government Agencies for use in that London in the South. Think Global with partners Valmet Automotive put the car into production with the car closely resembling the 2001-02 car.Due to financial difficulties (not enough free money), production of the Th!nk City in Finland was stopped in March 2011, and the company filed for bankruptcy on June 22, 2011, for the fourth time in 20 years. Think Global was purchased soon after by Electric Mobility Solutions AS, which announced production to resume in early 2012 with a refined Think City. However, production never resumed, and the Indiana plant completed its final car in August 2012 (only the best die young).


These body formers were part of a special exhibition showing some of the aspects of how the modern car is designed.

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The Film & TV cars zone includes the museum’s most popular movie vehicles – the fabulously pink FAB 1 from Thunderbirds, the Land Rover Defender used in the opening sequence of the James Bond Skyfall movie, the Tomb Raider Defender, the Land Rover ‘Judge Dredd’ City Cab and a replica of the DeLorean from Back to the Future 2.

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Built for the 2004 motion picture “Thunderbirds” as Lady Penelope’s car, and based on a modern Ford Thunderbird, the car is fully functioning, except it cannot fly, and it ran at the 2004 Goodwood Festival of Speed. The car has six wheels and a glass canopy, which is now tinted,. In the film the boot panels would open to expose the gas turbine engine before flight and the wings would extend from the under-carriage. During flight the rear wheels retract into the body. Skis for going over snow are also added. The bullet proof run flat tyres are fitted with studs for extra traction. The central passenger compartment doubles as an emergency life raft for rescues at sea.



Displayed in the very centre of the building is a tribute to the Austin Seven, with a number of models from the production of this long-lived range. Herbert Austin’s masterpiece which did much to put Britain on wheels in the 1920s. The first Sevens were built in 1922, and were four seat open tourers. Nicknamed Chummy, the first 100 featured a 696cc four cylinder engine, which was quickly upgraded to the 747cc unit that remained until the end of production some 17 years later. The first cars had an upright edge to the doors and a sloping windscreen, but from 1924, the screen became upright and there was a sloping edge to the doors, as well as a slightly longer body. Stronger brakes came along in 1926, along with a slightly taller nickel-plated radiator grille, conventional coil ignition, a more spacious body and wider doors. An even longer and wider body arrived in 1930, as well as a stronger crankshaft and improvements to the brakes which coupled front and rear systems together so they both worked by the footbrake. In 1931 the body was restyled , with a thin ribbon-style radiator and by 1932 there was a four speed gearbox to replace the earlier three-speeder. 1933 saw the introduction of the Ruby, a car that looked more modern with its cowled radiator. There were also Pearl and Opal versions. Development continued, so in 1937 there was a move to crankshaft shell bearings in place of the white metal previously used, and the Big Seven appeared. The last Seven was made in 1939, by which time 290,000 had been produced. Aside from saloons and tourers, there had been vans and sports derivatives like the Le Mans, the supercharged Ulster and the rather cheaper Nippy. Around 11,000 Sevens survive today. Oldest of the cars on show here was this 1923 Austin Seven Chummy.

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This is a 1929 Austin Seven Avon Sportsman 2 seater. Seven’s were popular with coach building companies who would purchase the chassis form Austin and build there own bodies, companies such as Swallow of Blackpool, Gordon England orin this case the New Avon Body Company of Wharf Street, Warwick. The Sportsman two seater is finished with a tapered tail and the doors open from the front, easing access, the body was in finished in fabric and the car came with a single piece windscreen with adjustable rake and vacuum operated windscreen wipers. The tail contains a luggage locker accessed through a hatch at the rear. The spare wheel could be stored behind the seat’ There were norunning boards, the front wings having their rear ends extended to prevent spray on to the car. The Sportsman two seater came in maroon, red, grey and blck with a matching duck hood. Wire wheels were supplied to order. This Sportsman Two Seater is unique, New Avon bought thirty chassis from Austin twenty six becoming Tourers, three were sold on to Swallow leaving this single Sportsman Tourer. at a cost of £ 148 new.

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In 1959 John Coleman set out in this 1925 from Buenos Aires to travel across America taking his cue from a 1925 trek by Swiss traveller A F Tschiffely who travelled a similar route on horseback. The first stage of his journey took him through the Andean Mountains in Argentina and the dirt roads of Chile. Upon reaching Peru he found the roads closed due to earthquakes. He reached Ecuador as the rainy season took hold becoming bogged down in mud until rescued by a passing bus. Car and driver took a freighter to avoid 300 miles of swampland between Columbia and Panama In Costa Tica they joined the Pan-America Highway but of the forty river crossings there were only ten bridges available. From there they made good progress to the United States. Eleven months and 11,000 miles from Argentina car and driver finally arrived in New York City


This is a 1931 Austin Seven Swallow. Seven’s were popular with coach building companies who would purchase the chassis form Austin and build there own bodies, companies such as Avon of Warwick, Gordon England or in this case the Swallow Coachbuilding Company of Blackpool. Swallow run by (Sir) William Lyons later evolved to become Jaguar but at this time were supplementing there original business of building motorcycle sidecars, having originally bodied caravans. The key to the Swallow was an order by London dealers Henley for 100 examples in 1927. The Swallow was produced in Saloon, Coupe and Sports to a total of around 3500 cars, selling at £187 new.


Stung by the success of the MG in all types of motor racing, Sir Herbert Austin decided to encourage a factory racing team. In 1932 a private Austin Seven Ulster caught Austin’s eye, driven by T, Murray Jamieson who worked for Amhurst Villiers and was developing a supercharged car of his own design. Jamieson was recruited with the brief to design the ultimate Austin Seven. His first design was a speed record car resembling a miniature of Malcolm Campbells Bluebird, He added a high pressure Rootes supercharger to the 747cc engine, boosting compression to the point of it requiring 32 studs to anchor the cylinder head. The car ran at the Montlehery and Southport speed trials but did not meet expectation and a decision was made to turn it into a track racer. The engine and transmission was retained and clothed in a frame and body similar to that of the American Sprint race cars. The lightweight car weighed only 431kg (8.5 cwt). To lower the driving position the transmission was offset. On its debut at the 1934 Brooklands Whitsun meeting and driven by factory driver Driscoll the car took the lap record in the Mountain handicap. Two new cars were built to the same design for 1935. One was destroyed in 1937 at Brooklands in a crash that effectively ended the racing career of ladies champion Kay Petre. Both cars had proved extremely successful on the track at Brooklands and Donington and in hillclimbs such as Shelsey Walsh. This is the sole surviving car.


A second Austin Seven Special was this 1936 twin cam racer.

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This one is a 1938 Austin Seven Ruby. A face lift for the Austin Seven from 1934 added a further 100,000 Ruby, Opal and Pearl models known as Austin’s ‘cheap jewellery’


Dixi was the brand name of cars made by Automobilwerk Eisenach (Eisenach car factory) starting in 1904. In the difficult economic climate of the 1920s the company found it hard to sell its 6/24 and 9/40 models. So the manufacturer decided to enter the small car market, and in 1927 signed a licensing agreement with the Austin Motor Company to build a variant of the Austin 7. A production level of 2000 cars a year was agreed upon, and Dixi paid Austin a royalty on each vehicle produced. The first 100 cars were supplied by Austin as kits, but by December 1927 the first of the official Dixi-manufactured vehicles, the DA-1 3/15PS were coming off the production line. The DA designation stood for Deutsche Ausführung, meaning German Version; 3/15 indicated the taxation and actual horsepower ratings. Apart from being left-hand drive and using metric fasteners, the car was nearly identical to the Austin. Body styles available were coupé, roadster, tourer, and sedan with a few chassis going to external coachbuilders. Most cars left the factory as tourers. Looking to move into automobile manufacturing, BMW bought the Automobilwerk Eisenach in 1928 and, with it, the rights to build the Dixi car. At first the cars were badged as BMW Dixi but the Dixi name was dropped in 1929 when the DA-1 was replaced by a slightly updated version, the BMW 3/15 DA-2.


Dating from 1913 this Morris Oxford 10hp ‘Bullnose’ is an early White & Poppe engined ‘Bullnose’ and is the 12th oldest Morris car in existence.


Beginning in 1922, the tiny Austin Seven had brought motoring to a new public and broadened the market. Against that Morris’s Oxfords and Cowleys had taken 41 per cent of the entire 1925 British private car market. Morris sales had begun to slow in 1926. They were revived by a new face for the Morris Oxford and Cowley and an expansion of Morris’s range both up and down the scale. The same year William Morris realised millions from the sale and stock market listing of preference shares in his business and he privately bought Wolseley, founded by Herbert Austin, which up to a few years earlier had been Britain’s largest car manufacturer. This gave Morris ample wherewithal to go after Herbert Austin’s little car with his own small Morris. With a surplus of production facilities, and Wolseley’s design engineers added to his own at Morris Commercial Cars, little time was taken for development of the Morris Minor. A more complex design than Austin’s Seven the all-new car was revealed in 1928. The launch was on 11 October 1928 at the opening of London’s 22nd Olympia Motor Show. A 4-seated tourer was displayed and a 4-seated saloon with sliding windows. Both had two doors. The Times’ motoring correspondent tested the fabric saloon and reported at length in December finishing with “I liked the general control and one does not get the impression that one is driving a very small car”. The fabric covered bodies used so much wadding to smooth their corners birds learned to peck through the fabric for the felt to build their nests. Coachbuilt, steel-panelled cars with a folding “sunshine” roof, for £9 more than the fabric car, were announced in August 1929 and all three cars were given rear-hinged doors with their forward ends sloping towards the front at the bottom. A 5-cwt van was added to the Minor range for 1930. It was displayed as Morris’s smallest van offering at the 1929 Motor Transport Show. The following year, in August 1930, a new 2-seater semi-sports joined the range with a hood and side screens. It was designed for two adults and their luggage and was cheapest in the range by £5. The tourer and two saloons, fabric and steel-panelled, remained in production. Advertisements referred to improved coachwork comfort and finish and improved lubrication and electrical systems. Tyres were now 19 x 4.00-inches. The coachbuilt saloon might now be had in black as well as blue. This last saloon came with automatic windscreen wiper, rear-vision mirror, safety glass and the new chromium finish. Morris’s stand at Olympia displayed just a chassis of the Minor. Just before Christmas 1930 Sir William Morris released a statement saying that he would put on the market very soon a new car to sell at £100 and it would be known as the Morris Minor S.V. two-seater. The body, he said, is to be coach built—steel panels on a wood frame—has as few bright parts as possible “to reduce polishing” and is finished in naval grey with red upholstery. Decarbonisation and valve adjustment were very simple and contributed to the new car’s low running costs.Within a few months 2-door saloon models with the S.V. type engine were also in production. A 4-seater S.V. tourer was announced in April.The overhead valve engine was proving to be expensive to make and Wolseley’s design—the six-cylinder version powered their successful Hornet saloon, and racing MGs—suffered from oil getting into the dynamo. So in 1931 a version with valve gear re-designed by staff of Morris Engines using side-valves and giving nearly the same power output, 19 bhp was introduced. On the road, the tester advised, the new Morris Minor S.V. exceeded 50 mph. A certain amount of wheel-bounce consumed a lot of power when testing standing-start times. The tappets could have been adjusted more finely, the accelerator needs a steadier spring and there should be a rest pedal beside it. Speed and brake levers were rather distant, top speed was apt to jump out when the load came off, some wheel bounce and movement with such a short wheelbase is acceptable, the foot brakes pulled to the near-side. The lower cost of the new engine allowed the Minor to be sold for the magic £100 as a stripped-down two-seater. The S.V. 2-seater cars were priced exactly 25 per cent cheaper than the SOHC cars had been. For a while both overhead and side valve versions were produced. The overhead-camshaft unit survived until 1932 in the four-door model, which also gained hydraulic brakes. In August 1931 a new radiator shape was revealed. The overhead valve version was renamed Morris Family Eight and was given a 7 ft 7 inches wheelbase, an extra 13 inches. The Family Eight was placed within the range between the Minor and Cowley. This saloon has four doors and has enough room for four grown persons. 17 x 4.50-inch tyres were fitted to the new Magna type wire wheels. Magna wheels were now fitted throughout the entire Morris range. The saloon bodies were slightly restyled with a more rounded look being given an “eddyfree” front, the standard size was roomier, their front seats could be adjusted and their doors were widened and fitted with safety glass winding instead of sliding windows. New colour schemes were made available. The fuel tank moved from the scuttle area below the windscreen to the rear of the car. An electric fuel pump or “automatic petrol-lift” was fitted. These Morris Family Eight cars were fitted with hydraulic brakes. Their new smooth sloping screen and rounded front allowed smooth passage of air and less resistance. The use of hydraulics distinguished the Morris from the competing Austin 7 with its less reliable cable brakes. The S.V. cars continued now known as Morris Minors in contrast to the Morris Family Eight cars. Morris displayed at the next Motor Show in October 1932 a Minor chassis for £87.10.0. For £90 the same chassis came equipped with a four-speed twin-top gearbox (“silent” third), cam steering and deep radiator. The 2-door Minor coachbuilt saloon was £125 or with fixed head £122.10.0. By the end of August 1933 all Morris cars had synchromesh four-speed gearboxes, dipping headlights, hydraulic shock absorbers, leather upholstery, hydraulic brakes, rear petrol tank, direction indicators and safety glass. The Family Saloon and Minor added to that illuminated direction indicators and pneumatic upholstery.The Minor and Family Saloon were replaced by the Morris Eight in August 1934 with an entirely new body and a slightly larger 918 cc engine.



The ground floor of the new Reserve Collection building is given over to a display of some of the cars from the Jaguar/Daimler Heritage Collection. There used to be a small display at the former Browns Lane site, but that closed some years ago as the entire site was sold for redevelopment and since then there has been a conspicuous lack of a facility to display what amounts to a collection of over 300 vehicles. A few are presented at the nearby Coventry Motor Museum, and most of the rest have been stored at the Jaguar Heritage facility at Ryton, so it is nice to see a representative collection on show here.

This Brough Superior motorcycle was purchased at auction by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in 1999. The Model 4 Super Sports sidecar was the most popular of all the sidecars produced by the company during the Blackpool years. The pointed tail was unique to the Model 4 but like the earlier Model 2, was made from aluminium panels on an ash frame. Weight was kept down to about 80 lbs, which William Lyons thought was important, as many of their competitor’s sidecars were too heavy for the motorbikes of the day. The Swallow Sidecar was originally the inspiration of William Walmsley, a thirty-year old World War One veteran and motorcyclist, who built his first sidecars in his parents’ garage at their home in Stockport. When his father retired and the family moved to Blackpool in 1921, he continued this business at their new home. One of his first customers in Blackpool was his new neighbour William Lyons, who even at the age of twenty, was quick to see a future in building sidecars. He convinced Walmsley that they should form a partnership, and increase production from two to ten sidecars per week. Because of young Lyons’s age, at first his father had to sign documents guaranteeing the new partnership. Therefore it was only on 4th September 1922 (Lyons’s twenty-first birthday) that the Swallow Sidecar Company was officially formed. Production moved from Walmsley’s garage to a small factory in Bloomfield Road in Blackpool, a building which is still in existence. Made from alloy panels over an ash wooden frame, the Swallow sidecar’s unique ‘Zeppelin’ design quickly proved popular with the motorcycling fraternity. Both William Walmsley and William Lyons were keen motorcyclists in their youth and owned a variety of machines, but the Brough Superior was their favourite. A Brough, originally owned by Lyons, is reported to be still in existence. These bikes, often known as ‘the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles’, were the products of George Brough of Nottingham. George Brough later returned the compliment by becoming an enthusiastic Jaguar owner, although not before he had tried his hand at making his own cars.


This particular Austin Seven Swallow is of unique interest. It is the oldest known survivor, and is thought to be one of only three cars preserved from the Blackpool production. It was acquired for the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in the 1980s and was extensively restored in 1993, to, as near, original condition as possible. The original engine had sadly been lost many years before and the car is now fitted with a slightly later engine, dating to 1930. While the Swallow Sidecar Company had been founded in Blackpool in 1922 to make motorcycle sidecars, within a few years the company took on coachbuilding work under the direction of the young and ambitious William Lyons. By 1926, the company had become the Swallow Sidecar & Coach Building Co Ltd, and Lyons decided to make his own special-bodied car. In common with many other specialist coachbuilders, he based his product on the chassis of Britain’s best-selling small car, the Austin Seven. In January 1927, an Austin Seven chassis was obtained through a dealer in Bolton, and in May of that year, the finished car – the first motorcar to be produced by the company – was described in The Autocar. Originally the intention was to fit the car with a detachable folding hard top but this proved to be impractical, and the cycle-type wings of the first car also had to be changed to ordinary flowing wings. Soon after, Lyons was given a contract by the London motor trader Henlys for no less than 500 Austin Seven Swallows – at the rate of twenty-five per week. However, the maximum number that could be built in the Blackpool factory was fourteen cars per week. The consequence was that Lyons decided to move his company to new premises in Coventry, in the heartland of the motor industry, and the move took place in November 1928.


This car is one of the first year’s production, and it is the earliest known survivor of the Austin Seven Swallow saloons. With the move from Blackpool to Coventry successfully completed in late 1928, the Swallow Company had ample room in their new factory at Whitmore Park, Foleshill. Production quickly expanded, with a target of fifty cars per week. While the Austin Seven continued to account for most of Swallow’s sales, there were also a few bodies made on Morris, Fiat and Swift chassis. The company’s location in Coventry eventually brought it into contact with the Standard Company at Canley which led to the introduction of the first Standard Swallow in October 1929, and the SS1 two years later. As part of the big order for 500 cars from Henlys, the Swallow Company had agreed to produce a saloon version as well as the open two-seater. The prototype of the Swallow saloon on the Austin Seven chassis was completed before the move from Blackpool but it is unlikely that any production cars were built there. The design was particularly distinctive, with the ‘pen nib’ treatment for the two-tone colour split along the bonnet, the V-shaped windscreen with a peak, and the rounded, almost egg-shaped rear end. The car was available in a wide range of colour schemes, it was well-finished, almost luxurious, inside and out, and sold at a price of only £187 10s. There was no comparable car, of its size or at its price, offering a similar amount of style and luxury. The Swallow Seven became deservedly popular, with an estimated 2,500 cars being made from 1927 to 1932. The majority were saloons, around 1,700 of them. Over the years of production, small changes were made to the Swallow saloon, for instance, the radiator was changed several times.


This car was originally delivered through Henlys in London and was bought by the Italian Prince Guido Pignatelli, Duke of Montecalvo (1906-67) from Naples and his first wife Princess Constance Wilcox Pignatelli. Constance was born in 1895, the daughter of a wealthy American lawyer, and was a familiar figure in New York high society. She married the Prince in August 1925, at the Wilcox family’s summer estate Oakledge at Madison, Connecticut. The couple split their time between the USA and Europe, and must have bought the car during a stay in London, although it is believed that they also used it in Paris. It was laid up in 1953 and re-discovered in 1971 by a leading collector, who later sold it to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. The SSI was the Swallow Company’s first complete car. After having offered special bodies on chassis from other manufacturers since 1927, by 1931 Lyons wanted to become a car maker. He negotiated a deal with the Standard Motor Company who would supply a new special chassis, unique to Lyons’ Swallow Company, as well as engines and other components. The result was the SSI car, launched in October 1931 in time for the London Motor Show, together with the smaller companion model called the SSII. Lyons had wanted to build the car as low as possible, but when he was struck down with appendicitis during the development period, his partner William Walmsley raised the roof of the prototype, to provide adequate headroom! The result was still a striking looking car, the height of fashion at the time. The close-fitting helmet wings were a unique feature, found only on the first year’s production of 500 cars. Similarly, the chassis which went above the rear axle was found only on this batch of cars. The 1933 models featured an underslung chassis, and flowing wing lines. Priced at £310 with the 2 litre 16 hp engine, the SSI was labelled as ‘the car with the £1000 look’, and offered a top speed of 75 mph (120 km/h). A bigger 20 hp engine was available at extra cost. What did the initials SS really mean? Since Lyons had earlier used an ‘SS’ badge on the Swallow-bodied Standard, we may speculate that these initials were still supposed to mean Standard Swallow, or perhaps Swallow Special.

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After having been in the coachbuilding business for four years with a range of special bodies on other manufacturers’ chassis, by 1931 William Lyons and the Swallow Company felt ready to launch their own brand of car. A ‘teaser’ campaign of advertising under the by-line, ‘Wait! – The SS is coming’ ran in the motoring magazines in the period up to the 1931 Motor Show. The new cars were finally unveiled on 9 October 1931 Although still making use of chassis, engines and components supplied by the Standard Company, Lyons’ new cars were very different from the earlier Standard Swallows. There were two models, the six-cylinder SS1 with 16hp or 20hp engines, and the SS2 with a four-cylinder 9hp engine of 1,006cc. The SS1 had a specially designed chassis, while the smaller car used a Standard Little Nine chassis. Both models had similar styling, with coupé bodies, dummy hood irons on blind rear quarters, and helmet type wings, but the larger car looked more impressive with its immensely long bonnet. A range of striking colour schemes was available for both models. Priced at £310, the SS1 was labelled as ‘the car with the £1,000 look’. The SS2 was even more reasonably priced, at £210, but naturally had a rather modest performance, with a top speed of 60 mph (96 km/h) against the 75 mph (120 km/h) of its bigger brother. The SS2 was manufactured for two years in this form, and total production during this period was 550 cars. Survivors of this early type are now very rare. At the end of 1933, the car was updated with a new chassis with a longer wheelbase, new body styling with flowing wings, and a choice of bigger engines, still Standard side valve units, of either 10hp or 12hp. This revised model was also available in saloon and tourer form. It continued in production until 1935, and a total of 1,800 SS2 cars of all types were made.

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This is one of around thirteen known survivors of 1,250 SSI cars made during the 1933 season, of which 143 were tourers. It was supplied new in July 1933 through Henlys in London, to a first owner from Richmond in Surrey, in the colour scheme of Blue and Silver. It was purchased by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in 2006, in part restored condition, to fill one of the few gaps in Jaguar Heritage’s collection of early SS cars. The restoration was finished in 2012. From the start with a single, rather ungainly looking coupé body in 1931, over the next few years the SS1 underwent considerable development and became available with several different body styles. William Lyons was not particularly happy with the style of the original car, and after production of only one year, the 1933 models acquired a new chassis, underslung at the rear, long flowing wings, and a lower roof line. Most of the 1933 SSI models still had the typical fixed head coupé with blind rear quarters and external dummy hood irons, but in the spring of 1933 the first additional body style was introduced, in the shape of this open four-seater tourer. The first example of the new car was supplied to Captain John Black, the managing director of the Standard Motor Company, which supplied the rolling chassis for the SS cars to the Swallow Company. The tourer cost the same as the coupé, £325 for the 16hp model, £335 for the 20hp version. The body style was much more sporting, with the swept-up scuttle, large instruments, and doors with elbow cut-outs, but still offered comfortable accommodation for four passengers. Performance was probably similar to the coupé model, with a top speed of up to 75 mph for the 16hp car, and another 5 mph for the 20hp model. Three of the new tourers were entered as a works-supported team in the 1933 Alpine Trial. Only one of these finished, together with two SSI cars entered privately.

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In 1935, SS Cars for the first time produced an open two-seater sports car, the SS90. While this was a remarkably handsome car, it lacked the performance to go with its looks, as it used the side-valve Standard six cylinder engine with 70bhp as found in the SS1. In production only for a few months, a mere 23 examples of the SS90 were delivered. The introduction in September of 1935 of the first cars to carry the ‘Jaguar’ model name was a tremendous step forward, as they were powered by a development of the old SS1 engine with an overhead valve cylinder head designed by Harry Weslake, and were fitted with twin S.U carburettors. Apart from the 2½-litre Jaguar saloon and tourer, there was the SS100 sports car. With the new 102bhp engine, and an all up weight of only 23 cwt (1170kg), the SS100 would reach a top speed of 94mph (151 km/h). Later the SS100 was fitted with a 3½-litre version of the same engine which produced 125bhp. This version had a top speed just over the magical figure suggested by the model number, of 101mph (163 km/h). Acceleration from 0 to 50 mph (80 km/h) was a mere 7.1 seconds, and 60 mph (96 km/h) was reached in less than 9 seconds, outstanding figures for the 1930s. When new the SS100 2½-litre cost £395, and even the 3½-litre cost only £445, making it the cheapest 100mph car in Britain at the time. In styling terms, the SS100 was similar to its SS90 predecessor, but it featured new headlamps, a revised radiator, a ‘100’ badge on the headlamp crossbar, and the ‘SS Jaguar’ badge on the radiator. At the rear of the car, the styling changes included a ‘Le Mans’ type petrol tank, with the spare wheel at an angle. A total of 191 of the 2½-litre cars were built between 1935 and 1939, with additionally 118 of the 3½-litre variant that was built from 1938 onwards, for a total production figure of 309 cars. This SS Jaguar 100 has had a fairly busy life. It was built on 20 January 1938, the 29th 2½ litre one made and despatched on the 4th February. Originally painted in black with brown interior it was raced on a variety of occasions throughout 1939 by its second owner: Saturday 22 April – SS Car Club Buxton Trial and Rally; Saturday 20 May – Race at Crystal Palace; Saturday 24 June – SS Car Club Ramsgate Rally; Saturday 26 August – Race at Crystal Palace. In the 1950s it was acquired by Walter Elliott, from a local farmer by which time it had changed colour from black to cream. He had many years of fun touring Europe in what he believed was the ‘Super Car of the Day’ It then went through a few more owners before being acquired by Mr G Priest in 1968 who undertook a fairly comprehensive restoration from 1968 through to the early 1970s. This included not just mechanical work but also paintwork including its second change of colour, from cream to red and the upholstery was refurbished, changing from brown to black. Jaguar Cars bought ERB 290 from Mr Priest in 1984 to add to its collection of historic cars in the ownership of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. The Science Museum operated PRISM fund contributed £10,000 towards this purchase. Once in the ownership of the JDHT the car underwent some minor re-commissioning work in 1994 and has been maintained as a running, driving vehicle since then.

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Built in late December 1947 and first registered in January 1948, this 1948 Jaguar Mark IV 3½ Litre Saloon was originally owned by Arthur Whittaker who at the time was Jaguar Cars’ General Manager. Finished in black with pigskin interior and burr walnut veneer, the car was a late Christmas present from Arthur to his wife, Mary. He had started his career as a part time salesman with the Swallow Sidecar Company in Blackpool and rose to be Deputy Chairman before retiring in 1968. The Jaguar Saloon, retrospectively referred to as the ‘Mark IV’ after the launch of the Mark V at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1948, was available with a 1.5 litre, 2.5 litre or 3.5 litre engine as a re-badged version of the pre-war SS saloons launched in 1938. The company produced nearly 3,600 right hand drive versions of the 3.5 litre model between 1946 and 1949, there being just over 200 known survivors by the year 2013. With its 3.5 litre engine developing 125 bhp it was capable of over 95 miles per hour. List price for this car in February 1948 was £1,263, After Arthur’s ownership the car was sold to R. J. Peabody of Coventry in December 1949. Over the next 30 years it went through a number of owners from the Midlands, Oxford, Wiltshire and as far south as the Isle of Wight. In October 1981 it was bought by David Priest who lived in Watford before subsequently moving to Edinburgh. David began a restoration of the vehicle which was to be completed by Jaguar specialist David Davenport some 21 years later. Priest collected the car from Davenport in Bedfordshire and promptly drove it the 350 miles home to Edinburgh. In November 2004 David Priest sold the car on and it went through a few more owners before turning up at auction in 2017 with just over 65,000 recorded miles an impressive toolkit and well documented history. Purely by coincidence, Arthur Whittaker’s granddaughter, Lucy, spotted the car for sale and brought it back into ownership of the Whittaker family. The car was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Jaguar Driver’s Club Champion of Champions competition in 2018 and then in 2019 it carried Arthur’s great granddaughter Emily to church on her wedding day.

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This particular Mark V was built towards the end of the production run in 1951. It was originally sold locally in Coventry, but from 1977 to 1988 spent its time in the USA. After re-importation it was for a time registered under the ‘age-related’ mark SSU 113 but the original mark LDU 604 was re-allocated in 2003. Launched alongside the XK 120 and the Mark V saloon at the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show was the drophead coupé model. The chassis and engine were the same as found on the saloon models, and the drophead was also available with a choice of the 2½ litre or 3½ litre engines, as well as either right-hand or left-hand drive. However, it took almost a year for the drophead model to go into production which finally happened in September 1949. The general body styling followed the lines of the saloon, and the car was almost as spacious, but had slightly less room in the rear seat to allow space for the hood to be folded. In construction however, the two body types were different: The Mark V saloon had an all-steel body, but the drophead coupé body was built on a traditional wooden frame. With only two doors access to the rear seat was naturally difficult, and once installed, rear seat passengers found their vision somewhat restricted, as they had no side windows or quarter lights, and the rear window was only a narrow slit. Jaguar had offered drophead coupés since 1937, and the Mark V version clearly resembled the previous model, sometimes in retrospect called the ‘Mark IV’. These were all very stylish motor cars, and very practical with the versatile hood which could be used in three different ways – fully closed, fully open, or in the intermediate ‘de ville’ position with only the front portion of the hood folded back. Almost exactly 1,000 Mark V dropheads were built, compared to 9,500 saloons.

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This is a very late example of the XK120, built in November 1953 and only 36 cars from the end of production of the right-hand drive two-seater. It was first registered to a dealer in Birmingham, and then sold to a private owner in Leamington Spa who kept the car until 1970 when it was acquired by Jaguar, so this car has in effect only ever had two owners from new. The XK120 was introduced at the 1948 London Motor Show in open two-seater form, and was produced from 1949 to 1954. The sleekly styled body was originally built in aluminium, but as demand for the car turned out to be much higher than anticipated, it was re-tooled in steel in 1950. Around 200 cars were built with the aluminium body. Fixed head and drophead coupé models became available in 1952 and 1953 respectively. The XK120 used a shortened version of the chassis from the Jaguar Mark V saloon, with independent front suspension by torsion bars. The XK120 was intended as a limited production model which would be a showcase for the new XK engine, before this engine went into full-scale production for the Mark VII saloon model which followed in 1950. This was the world’s first mass production engine with twin overhead camshafts and hemispherical combustion chambers. The enamelled manifolds and polished camshaft covers presented a handsome view when the bonnet was opened. The 3.4 litre engine produced 160bhp, which meant that the car could reach 125 mph (200 km/h), and went from 0 to 60 mph in 10 seconds.All this was available at the very reasonable price of £1,263 at launch, which by 1953 had become £1,602 – if you were lucky enough to be able to buy one of these cars in the home market. Although a total of 12,061 XK120s were built, most were sold in the American market where the model helped to establish Jaguar as one of the leading imported brands. The XK120 was replaced in September 1954 by the XK140.


This particular XK140 started life on 25 November 1954, it is the second of the 74 RHD cars built, and was originally sold in the London area. It is the standard model with the 190 bhp engine as opposed to the 210 bhp engine with the C-type cylinder head which was found on the ‘Special Equipment’ model. Nevertheless, the top speed of this model was still in the region of 125 mph, or just over 200 km/h. It has been restored to a high standard in its original black colour scheme with tan hide interior and hood and its original disc wheels have been replaced with chrome wire wheels. At the Motor Show in October 1954, the XK120 model was replaced by the updated and improved XK140 series. The new model could be identified by the cast radiator grille with seven bars, and by the heavier section bumpers, front and rear, which were particularly necessary in the important North American market, even if they did not improve the looks of the car. As with the XK120, the door windows are removable side-screens – wind up windows not appearing until the arrival of the XK 150. Under the skin, a worthwhile improvement was that the XK 140 had rack-and-pinion steering, and since the engine was moved 3 inches forward, a similar amount of extra space was liberated for passengers. It also became possible to fit small occasional rear seats on the coupé models. The engine was uprated, with power now quoted as 190 rather than the 160 bhp of the original XK 120. The three body styles offered on the XK140 were the open two-seater, the drop head coupé and the fixed head coupé. Of these the open two-seater was still the most popular, with 3,356 built out of a total of 8,956 cars until early 1957. Originally, there were only 74 two-seaters with right-hand drive. In the home market, the two-seater cost £1,598 8s 4d without extras, but only 45 of these cars found home market customers. The main market for the open two-seater was now the USA, with other markets preferring the more comfortable coupé model.

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The XK150 was the third and final stage in the evolution of the XK concept. The model was launched in May 1957, initially with a choice of fixed-head and drophead coupé bodies. The open two-seater followed nearly a year later, and was at first available only with left-hand drive for export, with most of these cars going to the USA. The styling of the XK150 was modernised, and if the car had lost some of the lithe grace that had characterised the first and purest version of the XK design, it had clearly become more muscular. There were other worthwhile improvements. Although a “standard” XK150 with drum brakes was quoted in the catalogue, all the production cars were of the “Special Equipment” model, which had four-wheel disc brakes. Almost all cars had wire wheels, except for a handful of cars with disc wheels and spats over the rear wheels. The 3.4-litre engine now produced 210bhp, and 250bhp on the new “S” model with a three-carburettor engine which was introduced in 1959. This was not the end of the story either, as Jaguar introduced a bigger XK engine of 3.8 litres. From October 1959, there was a 3.8-litre XK150 with 220bhp, and an “S” version with a quoted 265bhp (gross figures). This was the most powerful of all the XK production models, and reached no less than 136mph (219km/h) in an independent road test. Total production of the XK range from 1948 to 1960 was 30,000 cars, including 9,385 XK150 models. This particular car was built in August 1958, it was finished in “Pure White” (to special order) and was equipped with overdrive. The price when new was £1861. It was originally supplied through Henlys Limited in London to a first owner in Brighton, but nothing is known of its early history. It was for many years in the ownership of the same family, until it was donated to the JDHT in 1998.


It was the Mark VII model which put Jaguar on the map as a manufacturer of high-performance luxury saloons. This was the car that William Lyons had always intended the XK engine for, and after small-scale production of the XK120 sports car for two years, the Mark VII saloon followed in October 1950. With the twin overhead camshaft 3.4 litre engine developing 160 bhp, the Mark VII had a top speed of 101 mph (163 km/h) and was the fastest production saloon car in the world at the time The high performance was combined with plenty of room for five passengers and their luggage, elegant styling, and a well-appointed interior. Road holding and handling were excellent for a large luxury car. All this was available at the modest price of £1,276. However, most of production went for export, and the Mark VII was the first Jaguar saloon to sell in large numbers in the USA. To suit American preference, in 1952 the model became the first Jaguar to be offered with an automatic gearbox. Although one would not think so, the Mark VII was even successful in competition, and for some years dominated the touring car races at Silverstone, driven by among others Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn. The model was also entered in rallies, and a Mark VII won the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally, driven by Adams, Bigger and Johnston. The Mark VII attracted some famous customers, none more so than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who took delivery of this car in 1955 and kept it for her private motoring until 1973. It was finished in a special metallic version of the Royal colour Claret. This car is an example of the Mark VIIM model which was produced from 1954, but was later updated for Her Majesty with features from the Mark VIII/IX models, such as the one-piece windscreen, improved lighting and all round disc brakes.

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This cream coloured E-type was the 406th of 776 open two-seaters with right-hand drive built between August 1968 and August 1970. (There were ten times as many with left-hand drive). It was built in October 1969 and registered in Northampton in April 1970, but the first owner is not known. From 1974 it was in the ownership of the same enthusiast, who in 2001 generously donated the car to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. Introduced in 1961 in 3.8 litre form, the E-type received the bigger 4.2 litre engine together with a fully-synchronised gearbox in 1964. In the following year, the original open two-seater and fixed head coupé models were supplemented by the longer wheelbase 2+2 coupé, on which, for the first time, an automatic gearbox became available. In late 1967, all E-types were modified to comply with the first US safety and emissions regulations which came into force on 1 January 1968, and the resulting interim model has become unofficially known as the ‘Series 1½’. From then on, the E-type lost its headlamp fairings. Bigger changes were in store for the 1969 models, again due to the influence of US legislation. At the front, much larger side lamps and indicators were re-positioned below the bumper, and flanked a larger air intake. The rear bumper was raised, and new larger tail lamp clusters were fitted below it. Between them was a new number plate plinth with two reversing lamps. There were several mechanical changes. More powerful Girling brakes were now fitted, and a cross-flow radiator with two fans and a separate expansion tank was introduced. Power steering became available as an optional extra. Altogether, the changes were sufficient for the revised model to be officially called the Series 2, and be given the new chassis number prefix of 1R instead of 1E, with new series of numbers.

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This car is one of the last 3.8 litre Mark IIs to be built, in August 1967, a few weeks before production stopped, and is the 24th right-hand drive car from the end of production. Finished in Opalescent Dark Green, the car was originally sold in Lancashire, and little is known about its history except that it was the subject of a 1,500 hour rebuild from a bare shell to concours standard before it was purchased for the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in 1992. It was thought to have covered some 40,000 miles from new until restoration. GHG 615F was loaned to the BBC to review on Top Gear and driven by Richard Hammond. The clip starts with a brief glimpse of the 2001 R-Coupé from our Collection and then the Mark II sequence is from 02:51 to 07:28 one of his final comments is that for him it remains his ‘ultimate Jaguar.’ Made from 1959 to 1967, the Mark II saloon was the most successful Jaguar model until that time, with total production of 83,701 units of which the 3.8 litre version accounted for 27,848. The 3.8 litre engine developed 220 bhp, leading to a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h), and a 0 to 50 mph (80 km/h) time of 6.4 seconds. This was always considered the most desirable of the Mark II models, especially when fitted with wire wheels and the overdrive gearbox. With these extras, together with leather upholstery and metallic (‘Opalescent’) paint, the Mark II 3.8 litre cost £1,764 in 1967. The Mark II had a successful competition history in International Touring Car racing, and in rallies. It was driven by Roy Salvadori and Duncan Hamilton amongst others, as well as by European drivers such as Bernard Consten and Peter Lindner. Always a favourite with Police forces, Mark IIs were often also driven by those on the wrong side of the law! A Mark II was memorably used as a getaway car in the Great Train Robbery in 1963. In 1967, the Mark II models were replaced by the 240 and 340, which continued in production until 1969. These cars had only the two smaller engine sizes, and Ambla rather than leather interior trim, together with slimmer bumpers. Production of the 3.8 litre was however discontinued, except for a dozen or so of the 340 models which were fitted with 3.8 litre engines on special requests from customers.


Towards the end of the 1950s Daimler decided to try and open up a new market sector in the US with a small sports car powered by a brand new 2½ litre V8 engine. The engine was designed by Edward Turner using motorbike engineering philosophy and produced in both 2½ and 4½ litre forms. The new car was in every respect a departure from traditional Daimler practice. The chassis was based on the Triumph TR3, a manual gearbox was an option (Daimler had previously favoured pre-select gearboxes), Girling disc brakes were fitted on all four wheels and the strikingly styled body was made from fibreglass instead of steel. The new model was launched at the New York Motor Show in April 1959 (where it was unofficially voted as the ugliest car at the show) and was at first called the Daimler Dart. Chrysler Corporation protested that they had this name registered for a Dodge and threatened legal action. With little time to come up with a new name, Daimler used the project number SP 250 as the model number. Sadly, no sooner had Daimler introduced the car than the US market went into recession, and the hoped-for large scale sales in the USA never materialised. This was perhaps just as well, since there were numerous build quality problems, mainly with the body but caused by chassis flex. These were partly addressed when Jaguar bought Daimler in 1960 and brought out the ‘B spec’ version. Some of the cars that been exported to the US, but remained unsold, were returned to England for re-working to ‘B’ spec. The final production figure of 2,654 cars made between 1959 and 1964 was far short of Daimler’s original forecast of 1,500 in the 1st year and 3,000 in each of the 2nd and 3rd years of production. However around 1,674 SP250s are known to exist, albeit not all roadworthy – 63% – an unusually high survival rate for any car from the 1950s and 1960s. This is the oldest surviving Daimler SP250, built in early 1959, chassis 100002 was the third of the three prototypes. The other two prototypes, chassis 100000 and 100001 built in 1958, were dismantled when their testing was completed. Registered as XHP 438 it was used as the company press car and was tested by Autocar and Motor magazines and on one memorable day a works driver took out a couple of Australians for a hair-raising drive around the works and surrounding roads. It also featured on the front cover of the November 1959 edition of ‘Vogue’. After its life as a press car it went back to the Daimler factory for re-furbishment and then in February 1960 was sold through the Dorking Motor Company to Jack Brabham Motors of Hook, near Kingston, Surrey. Its first private owner was Mr Donald Harley who worked on the ‘Eagle’ comic as the illustrator on ‘Dan Dare’. Mr Harley exchanged it for a Sunbeam Alpine in March 1962. From then to 1977 it went through four owners around England before being exported to Holland and receiving a new Dutch registration number of 60 TS 15. This owner then moved from Holland to Canada taking the car with him, although making little use of it and putting it into storage for almost ten years. In 1987 it was sent off to auction where it was bought by two Canadian brothers, Doug and Gary Titosky, who recognising its importance started on what was to become a 30 year restoration project. In 2019 the part restored car was bought by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and re-imported to England and its original registration number re-issued by the DVLA. The car was displayed on the SP250 Owners’ Club stand at the Classic Motor Show at the NEC from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th November 2019 and the Titoskys flew over from Canada for the Show.


The SP252 was designed and conceived by Sir William Lyons as a replacement for the Daimler SP250 over the period 1961 – 1963. Daimler had allocated six prototype chassis numbers to the SP250 programme: 100000, 100001 and 100002 were used for the SP250 leaving 100003, 100004 and 100005 unallocated. Sir William designed this as a replacement (or Mark II) version of the SP250. Chassis 100003 was fitted with rack and pinion steering and torsion bar suspension (the same as the E-type). Sir William styled the body and Fred Gardner built a wood and fibreglass mock-up at Browns Lane. A full fibreglass body was then made and fitted to chassis 100004 based on standard SP250 running gear. This body was then fitted to chassis 100005 which was a standard ‘B’ spec chassis and was then designated SP252 The SP250’s fibreglass body was labour intensive and took 2½ times as many man-days to build as the Jaguar E-type. Although the SP252 was generally regarded as an improvement over the SP250 it was decided that it would not be economic to put into production and the project was shelved. Between 1959 and 1964 only 2,654 SP250s were sold before production ceased. Compare this to the production rate of the Jaguar E-Type which was announced in March 1961. From March to the end of December 1961 they had built 2,136 E-Types and between 1961 and 1964 when SP250 production finished they had sold 15,498. In 1967 a regular Jaguar customer, Peter Ashworth – saw SP252 in storage and managed to convince the then Jaguar MD, Lofty England, to sell him the car and it was registered LHP 307F in September 1967. The car was sold on again in 1968 with fewer than 700 miles on the odometer and bought by Tom Sweet who kept it until 1994, using it very little and it deteriorated while in storage. In 1994 Brian Peacock bought it and started a long term restoration, completing repairs to the chassis, the bodywork and overhauling the brakes and suspension. He had the car re-painted, fitted a new windscreen and re-trimmed the interior and the hood. When the car left the factory it did not have a proper grille fitted so he had one made as closely as possible to the images of the original. This did not include the traditional Daimler ‘flutes’ so he had a section handcrafted to finish off the grille. The SP252 changed hands a couple more times before coming into the ownership of Matt and Claire Pilkington in early 2020. They have kindly loaned SP252 to the JDHT for 12 months from March 2020.

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This dark blue car, built in October 1965, was originally supplied to an owner in Devon who kept it until 1993. It then went into a private collection and was the subject of extensive restoration work, before being purchased for the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in 1998 with a documented mileage of 89,000. This is a fine example of the car which represents a milestone in Daimler history, combining the best characteristics of both the Daimler and Jaguar marques. The Daimler company was purchased by Jaguar in 1960, and it did not take the engineers at Jaguar long to realise the potential of the Daimler 2½ litre V8 engine, designed by Edward Turner. With very little work, the engine was adapted to fit the Mark II saloon. Little other mechanical work was required, other than revising front suspension spring rates due to the lightness of the aluminium V8. The Borg Warner type 35 automatic gearbox was fitted as standard. Externally, the Daimler was distinguished from the Jaguar by the fitment of a fluted grille and boot plinth, a swept ‘D’ on the bonnet and hubcaps, and a Daimler script on the bootlid. Inside, the Jaguar dashboard was retained, but a split bench front seat was fitted, with a revised centre console. Veneer quality was improved, and a bold ‘D’ was featured on the steering wheel. Without incurring vast development costs, the new model gave the Daimler marque a new lease of life, satisfying the Daimler dealers and customers. Launched in 1962 it was aimed at a more traditional and professional clientele, which was reflected in the price £1,568, around £100 dearer than the equivalent Jaguar. The new Daimler saloon outperformed the 2.4 litre Jaguar, by having a 0-60 mph time of 13.8 seconds, and a top speed of 110 mph. The model offered remarkable standards of smoothness and quietness. Total production was 13,018 vehicles between 1962 and 1967, with a further 4,897 examples of the revised V8-250 until 1969.


This particular S-type was built in December 1965 and originally went through the London distributor Henlys, although the first owner, a Mr Breen, lived in Sevenoaks in Kent. Finished in the typical Jaguar colour of Opalescent Silver Blue, the car is fitted with power steering and an automatic gearbox, in which form it cost £1,918 when new. The car was purchased by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in 1994 after extensive restoration by Leslie Thurston. Although the Mark II saloon retained its popularity throughout the 1960s, after 1961 its sales declined. Jaguar began to think of a successor which would improve and update the Mark II, but still retain the much admired styling and features of the original. This became the S-type of 1963, which was developed using the basic floorpan and centre section from the Mark II, but with a new rear end which was based on the design of the Mark X. In mechanical terms, the S-type followed the Mark II, with a choice of the 3.4 litre and 3.8 litre engines (the 2.4 litre engine was not available) and the usual options of automatic gearbox, overdrive and power steering. The four-wheel disc brakes and the front suspension were also the same as on the Mark II, but new on a small Jaguar saloon was the independent rear suspension, as found on the E-type sports car and the Mark X Saloon, in place of the live axle of the Mark II. The S-type was the car for the customer who wanted speed, comfort and style, in a car smaller than the Mark X, but without the overtly sporting image of the Mark II. The S-type, being heavier, was naturally slower although still with a 120 mph top speed in 3.8 litre form, but offered more interior comfort, boot space and a better ride than the older sister model. The differences between the two cars, and their prices, were big enough for Jaguar to keep both models in production. The S-type however was made in smaller numbers, with 24,993 cars being produced between 1963 and 1968.


This 420G was built in May 1969 and was originally sold to a firm of paper makers in Manchester. They still owned the car in 1985, when they generously donated it to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. In 1961, the big Jaguar Mark IX saloon was eleven years old and rather out of date. A much-needed replacement was introduced at the London Motor Show that autumn. The new car, naturally called the Mark X, was a bold step forward for Jaguar. While the previous model had a separate chassis, the new car featured unitary body construction and was at that time the largest car in Britain to use such a body. It also had independent rear suspension, similar to the E-type which had been launched in March 1961. Fitted with the 3.8 litre XK engine in three-carburettor form, despite its size and weight – this was the largest Jaguar ever made, weighing close to 2 tons – the Mark X was no sluggard and offered a top speed of 120 mph (193 km/h). Five passengers and quantities of luggage could travel in supreme comfort. In typical Jaguar fashion the price was unbelievably low, at only £1,640 basic at launch or just under £2,400 including Purchase Tax. The real price to be paid was fuel consumption of around 15 mpg (19 litres/100 km). Although warmly welcomed at the time, the Mark X did not sell as well as expected. Early cars had different teething troubles. Matters were improved with the 4.2 litre version introduced in 1964, with improvements to the power steering, brakes and transmission. Air conditioning and electric windows were now available as options. The final version was the 420G of 1966, which had a side chrome trim strip, new radiator grille and wheel trims, and was often seen in two-tone colour schemes. After the launch of the new XJ6 in 1968, production of the 420G ran down in 1970, with a total of just over 24,000 of the Mark X/420G family having been made.


This was the 370th XJ6 4.2 litre right-hand drive car. The colour is Sable, with Cinnamon interior trim. For the first two years of its life, it was the personal transport of Sir William Lyons, the Chairman of Jaguar Cars Limited. It was kept on the road until 1976 by which time it had done some 60,000 miles. It became part of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust collection and was stored until 1994, when it was finally restored and put back in running order, with sponsorship and assistance from the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club. During the 1960s, Jaguar’s product policy became a little confusing. By 1967, there were no less than four basic saloon ranges in production, with a total of nine different models. Behind the scenes, a new policy and a new model were slowly coming to fruition. Broadly speaking, the existing unwieldy range would be replaced by a single basic design, with a choice of engines, and available in either Jaguar or Daimler form. The project was code-named XJ4 but the production version, launched in September 1968, became the XJ6, for six cylinders, with a choice of 2.8 litre or 4.2 litre XK engines. The body was new in every respect, and was the pinnacle of the elegant Jaguar design which Sir William Lyons had refined over so many years. The new car was notable for its suspension which chief engineer Bob Knight had developed to reach new standards of handling and road holding, coupled with remarkable passenger comfort.

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This long wheelbase top of the range car was used by both Sir William Lyons and Lord Stokes for their personal transport during the British Leyland era. It was also used as a test bed on several occasions, including the fitment of a two-stage differential and a different engine. The car was acquired by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust in 1991. As its condition had deteriorated over time, in 2003 the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club was asked to undertake a project to refurbish the car. The work included a complete strip-down and rebuild of the mechanics, most of the work being carried out by David Marks Garage in Nottingham, rebuilding the V12 engine (which was carried out by Jaguar personnel) and major body repairs and a repaint carried out by Alan Proctor from Worksop – all of which was reported in the Jaguar Enthusiast magazine at the time. Five years on from the launch of the very successful Series 1 XJ6 range, the car was in need of some upgrades to freshen the styling and enhance the heating and cooling system. This led to the launch of the Series 2 XJ6 in 1973, characterised by a smaller radiator grille and bumpers raised in height to meet US regulations. The bulkhead was modified to accept a new air-blending heater and a fully automatic air conditioning system became available for the first time. The interior was also upgraded with new switchgear, a revised instrument cluster with all the dials in front of the driver, a modified centre console and re-designed door casings. Late in the life of the Series 1 XJ6 in 1972, a long wheelbase variant was introduced which had a 4 inch longer wheelbase, all of the extra length being applied to the rear seat area. Initially introduced as the Daimler Double-Six Vanden Plas (resurrecting Daimler’s Double-Six nomenclature from the 1920s) the longer bodyshell was also made available for 6 and 12 cylinder Jaguar models. All these models continued to be offered in the Series 2 range where they were joined by the new two-door coupé body style, leading to a total Series 2 line-up of some 16 different models!


This particular car, a 1973 long wheelbase model, was supplied to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, replacing Her Majesty’s previous Jaguar, a 1955 Mark VIIM which was then returned to the Jaguar company. Her Majesty’s new car was specially finished in the Royal colour of Claret, and uniquely among Jaguars, was fitted with the special Vanden Plas interior as found on the equivalent Daimler. Many years later, Her Majesty expressed the wish that on her death, this Jaguar should also return to the company, which duly happened on Her Majesty’s passing in 2002. The original XJ6 launched in 1968 was a tremendous success for Jaguar, but behind the scenes another new even more remarkable model was being prepared. Since the mid-1960s, Jaguar’s engineers had been at work on the design of a V12 engine, which was launched in the E-type Series 3 in early 1971. However, this engine was always intended for the new saloon car, and in 1972 the XJ12 finally appeared: the world’s only V12-engined saloon. This car had an enormous impact. Coupled with the high standards of refinement and comfort of the XJ6, the new 5.3 litre engine gave the XJ12 a top speed of 146 mph (235 km/h), and the list price at launch was only £3,725. Externally, the main difference from the XJ6 was a new radiator grille with simple vertical bars. For the first time, serious comparisons began to be drawn between Jaguar and Rolls-Royce, and it seemed that the XJ12 was a worthy contender for the title of “Best Car in the World”. If there was any criticism of the new model, it was that it was short on passenger space, particularly in the rear seat, but this was soon rectified by the introduction of a long wheelbase model at £4,052. A Daimler version revived the old name Double Six. Long wheelbase Daimlers were given a special interior by the old coachbuilding firm of Vanden Plas in London.


This 1978 Squadron Blue XJC 5.3 was officially designated as the last of line of the coupé range, and was retained by the company for the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. The idea of making a two-door pillarless version of the XJ saloon had surfaced very early in the car’s development as Jaguar became aware of the growing American market for hardtop cars in the 1960s. Indeed, early XJ6 styling models were all two-door cars. However it took a long time for the idea to reach fruition, and two-door XJs were only revealed at the 1973 Motor Show, as part of the revised Series 2 range. Then there were further development problems with the rear quarterlight sealing which effectively delayed series production until 1975. Built on the short wheelbase floorpan from the original Series 1 saloon, the distinguishing feature of the two-door coupé was the pillarless window style with no doorframe or B-post. The doors were four inches longer than the standard saloon front doors. Further changes included folding front seats to allow access to the rear. All production coupés featured a black vinyl roof covering, and the XJC badging on the boot lid. Mechanically, the coupés were similar to their saloon sisters, offering a choice of either the 4.2 litre XK 183bhp engine, or the 5.3 litre V12 253bhp engine. There were also Daimler versions of both cars, under the Sovereign and Double Six names. From 1975, with the adoption of fuel injection on the V12, power output was raised to 285bhp, with fuel economy and top speed both improved. In 1976-77, the V12 coupé was the basis for the short-lived Leyland Broadspeed effort in European Touring Car racing. The small numbers of cars built made it difficult to justify coupé production which therefore ceased on 8 November 1977, with 10,426 two-door cars of the four models having been built. At that time the Jaguar XJ 5.3C cost £11,755, with an extra £321 for the Kent light alloy wheels.

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This is one of three development XJSs built with four wheel drive and has a turbo-charged engine, as a test bed for the ill-fated XJ41/42 replacement. In 1983, the XJS became the first Jaguar model to be fitted with the new AJ6 3.6 litre six cylinder engine, as an alternative to the V12. In a sense, this was Jaguar’s way of proving the new engine design in a limited-production model before the engine was adopted for the mainstream saloon model, which happened with the XJ40 in 1986. However, Jaguar was also working on a new sports model as a successor to the XJS; this project was code-named XJ41/42 but inevitably it was popularly referred to as the “F-type”. The XJ41 had a protracted gestation period, and one of the problems with the car (which eventually led to it being abandoned) was that the weight continued to increase. To maintain performance in spite of this, it was decided to turbocharge the AJ6 engine, which improved power output to at least 330 bhp. Then the next problem was that this power would generate too much wheel spin, so it was decided to adopt four-wheel drive. It is thought that three XJS mules were built with the four-wheel drive system, in cooperation with FF Developments, the Coventry company originally founded by Harry Ferguson to develop a four-wheel drive car. One had a V12 engine, one a non-turbo six, and finally there was this car, with twin Garrett turbochargers and an alleged 400 bhp. The base car had been built in April 1987, originally with left-hand drive for Germany. It also had a manual gearbox and was allocated to Jaguar’s Engineering Department. The conversion was very complicated and inevitably involved many other changes to the car, which took more than two years to develop. The result was, by all accounts, impressive – with a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h), 0-60 mph in little more than 5 seconds, and remarkable handling. Sadly, in 1990 it was decided to cancel the XJ41/42 project, so this intriguing XJS development car was made instantly redundant.

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This car was built towards the end of Cabriolet production, and was originally the personal car of Diana, Princess of Wales. Although the Cabriolet was normally offered only as a two-seater, this car was specially fitted with rear seats for the young Princes William and Harry. The Princess used this car from 1987 to 1991, and it was then acquired by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in return for a contribution to her charity. Princess Diana was the third generation of the Royal family to have chosen Jaguars for personal transport. The Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust is proud to preserve Princess Diana’s car together with the Jaguar Mark VII originally used by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and cars used by HM The Queen. Originally, the XJ-S had only been available with the closed coupé body, but in response to demand for a soft-top version, the Cabriolet model was introduced in 1983. Also in this year, the XJ-S became the first Jaguar model to be fitted with the new AJ6 3.6 litre six-cylinder engine, as an alternative to the V12. The Cabriolet model was at first only offered with the six-cylinder engine, although a V12 Cabriolet followed in 1985. The styling of the Cabriolet model was dictated by the window frames which were fixed, and which together with a cross bar supported the rigid targa-type roof panels. For the rear part of the hood, every car was supplied with both a ‘half hard top’ and a folding soft top. Although the Cabriolet was a useful addition to the Jaguar range as the most sporting model since the demise of the E-type, especially the AJ6-engined car with manual gearbox, it was still felt by many to be a compromise solution. In the spring of 1988, Jaguar introduced the Convertible model of the XJ-S, with a fully disappearing soft top, and the Cabriolet version was discontinued after a production run of 5,013 cars.


This Signal Red XJS is the last convertible and the last but one XJS to be built. Together with the last of all XJS cars, a 6 litre coupe, the car was gifted to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. Introduced in September 1975 with the 5.3 litre V12 engine, the XJS was at that time the most expensive production car Jaguar had ever produced at £8,900. Intended as a prestige Grand Touring coupé, the XJS nevertheless had sports car performance with a top speed close to 150 mph (240 km/h), and with comfort and refinement to match. Its unconventional styling and lack of traditional wood veneer caused some concerns initially. However, over the years the XJS grew in reputation, and eventually became the most successful sporting car that Jaguar had ever produced. The model enjoyed success in competition, particularly with the TWR team of XJS cars which was first entered in the European Touring Car Group A championship in 1982. In 1984 Tom Walkinshaw won this championship, and won the Spa 24-hour race with co-driver Win Percy. From 1983, the new AJ6 3.6 litre six-cylinder engine became available in the new cabriolet soft-top version. In 1988, the cabriolet was replaced by the convertible with a fully folding top. The XJS range went through a major restyling in 1991, and was now fitted with a 6 litre version of the V12 engine, while the six-cylinder model was fitted with the 4 litre AJ16 engine. A 4 litre convertible followed in 1992, and the two-plus-two version of this appeared in 1993. In 1995, the six-cylinder cars were designated as the ‘Celebration’ models, to mark the run-out of XJS production. An estimated 4,000 ‘Celebration’ models were made during the next twelve months. The XJS was in production for twenty-one years during which time a total of 115,413 were made. Production came to an end in April 1996 prior to the introduction of the new XK8 sports car. By that time the list price of the XJS 4.0 litre convertible ‘Celebration’ model was £45,950.


This car is not only the last XJS coupé but also the very last XJS to be built. Together with the last XJS 4-litre convertible, the car was donated to Jaguar Heritage for preservation. Introduced in September 1975 with the 5.3-litre V12 engine, the XJS was at that time the most expensive production car Jaguar had ever produced at £8,900. Intended as a prestige Grand Touring coupé, the XJS nevertheless had sports car performance with a top speed close to 150 mph (240 km/h), and with comfort and refinement to match. Its unconventional styling and lack of traditional wood veneer caused some concerns initially. However, over the years the XJS grew in reputation, and eventually became the most successful sporting car that Jaguar had ever produced. The model also enjoyed success in competition, appearing in American races with the Group 44 team from 1976 to 1982. In 1982, the Jaguar TWR team of XJS cars was first entered in the European Touring Car Group A championship. In 1984 Tom Walkinshaw won this championship, and together with Win Percy, won the Spa 24-hour race as well. From 1983, the new AJ6 3.6-litre six-cylinder engine became available in the new cabriolet soft-top version, which was later also offered with the V12 engine. In 1988, the cabriolet was replaced by the convertible with a fully folding top, and the first TWR-tuned XJR-S model was introduced. The XJS range went through a major restyling in 1991, and was now fitted with the much improved 6-litre version of the V12 engine, while the six-cylinder model was uprated with a 4-litre engine. The XJS was in production for twenty-one years during which time a total of 115,413 were made. Production came to an end in April 1996 prior to the introduction of the new XK8 sports car later that year. By that time the list price of the XJS V12 coupé was £50,500.


In 1985, Jim Randle who was Director of Jaguar Engineering, asked the Styling Studio under Geoff Lawson to look into the feasibility of developing a removable hard top for the planned XJ-S Convertible. This quickly proved not to be feasible, but some preparatory work had already been done, using an XJ-S Cabriolet as the basis. Jim Randle and Geoff Lawson then decided to use the opportunity to explore the possibility of developing a top-of-the range XJ-S based niche model, under the Daimler name. Together with designer Fergus Pollock and with sheet metal modifications by Park Sheet Metal, Geoff developed the idea during 1985-86, almost as a spare time project. The steel hardtop was welded to the existing structure, and the Cabriolet roof panels were ‘skinned’ in steel. Modifications included a new design of rear side window with mouldings, and a chrome panel on the ‘B’ post. The Daimler identity was indicated by a new Daimler grille and a bootlid moulding, both with the fluted Daimler design. The intention was that a small run of these cars should be produced, probably off-site at Park Sheet Metal in Bedworth near Coventry, and some consideration was given to incorporating the four-wheel drive system from FF Developments. The cars would have featured a special interior, finished by hand in the Daimler limousine shop (the Special Vehicle Operations Department). However, while there was some positive reaction to the car, opinions were divided. The car was subject to a customer clinic in Los Angeles, together with the existing XJ-S coupé and cabriolet models, and the proposed convertible, and the US audience was far more interested in the convertible. While the car was a fully running prototype, the bespoke interior was never fitted before the project was shelved in 1986. The car was retained by the Styling Studio for some time, possibly with further development in mind but was eventually gifted to the Trust in 1989.

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This Bordeaux Red Series 3 XJ6 was built in April 1987 and was the final six-cylinder Series 3 model. This was also the last Jaguar saloon car to use the famous XK engine, first launched almost forty years before. By 1979, after ten successful years in the market, the time had come for a new generation of the Jaguar XJ model range. Although an all-new saloon car model was under development behind the scenes under the project number XJ40, this was still a number of years away from production. To fill the gap, Jaguar for the first time went to an outside design house, the Italian firm of Pininfarina, and asked for an update of the classic XJ shape. Pininfarina largely kept the lower part of the body although there was a handsome new grille, while bumpers and rear lights were tidied up. Changes above the waist were more radical, with a new roof and glasshouse, incorporating deeper side windows made from curved glass. The new model, launched in March 1979 as the Series 3, won instant acclaim as a great improvement over the Series 2 model. The model mix was initially as before, with six and twelve-cylinder versions offered under both the Jaguar and Daimler names. Vanden Plas models were at first unique to Daimler but in 1981, a Jaguar Vanden Plas model was introduced for the North American market. In 1983 the name Sovereign was transferred from Daimler to Jaguar, and from then on was used for the most luxurious versions of Jaguars. The final list price for the 4.2 Sovereign in 1986-87 was £20,795. In October 1986 the new generation of XJ models appeared, the XJ40 range. Production of the Series 3 was now progressively run down. By 1987, Series 3 production had reached almost 168,000 cars. The twelve-cylinder models continued in production until 1992, and the total production of all Series 3 cars reached 177,244 cars.

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This Carnival Red XJ6 3.2 litre Sport was the very last car to be produced by Jaguar Cars with the in-line AJ16 six cylinder engine, which was then replaced by the new AJ8 V8 engine in the revised X300 XJ8. This car was therefore also the last Jaguar- for the time being to carry the famous XJ6 name, first introduced in 1968. It was built on 2 July 1997, and was immediately transferred to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust’s collection for preservation. The new series Jaguar XJ6 (X300) saloons were introduced in September of 1994 to replace the existing models of the same name (code name XJ40). These new models represented the first new cars to be produced since the Ford take-over in 1989. They incorporated significantly improved build technology and a degree of ‘retrolutionary’ styling taken from earlier Jaguar models. The six-cylinder engine was the new AJ16, a much-modified version of the AJ6 engine used in the previous generation of Jaguars. There was also a limited production twelve-cylinder model. The Jaguar XJ6.model range originally included 3.2 litre and 4.0 litre versions, both of which were available as a ‘basic’ model, a more luxurious Sovereign version, and a Sport version. There was also a high performance XJR version featuring a supercharged version of the 4 litre engine. Unique to the North American market was the Vanden Plas model, while in the UK and some export markets a 4-litre Daimler Six was available. Long wheelbase versions of many models followed in 1995. The new model range would significantly improve Jaguar’s production and sales figures compared to its XJ40 predecessor. In 1995 alone, more than 36,000 of the new range was made, and total production from 1994 to 1997 amounted to 92,038 of all X300 models. In 1997, prices ranged from £31,625 for the basic XJ6 3.2 litre to £67,125 for a Daimler Double Six.

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This is the very last V12 engined car to be produced by Jaguar Cars, on 17 April 1997. The V12 was in production from 1971 during which time a total of 161,583 V12-engined cars were made. This engine design powered four previous generations of Jaguar saloons, from the XJ12 Series 1 through the Series 2 and Series 3 models, to the XJ40. The V12 was also found in the E-type Series 3 from 1971 to 1974, and in the XJ-S from 1975 to 1996. The V12 engine was the basis of the racing engines that brought Jaguar victory at Le Mans in 1988 and 1990. The V12 design had started life as a power unit for Jaguar’s potential Le Mans contender of the 1960s, the still-born XJ13. Compared to the XJ13’s racing engine of 5 litres with four overhead camshafts and 502bhp, the production version of 1971 was slightly bigger at 5.3 litres but was fitted only with one overhead camshaft per bank, and was less powerful with 272bhp. Originally fitted with carburettors, in 1975 the V12 acquired fuel injection, the HE (High Efficiency) cylinder heads arrived in 1981, and it was finally enlarged to 6 litres in 1993. The Jaguar V12 engine was the first modern V12 engine in mass production, and for many years, Jaguar was the only company in the world to offer a four-door saloon car with this type of engine. When this car was built in 1997, it truly marked the end of an era for the company. When the new X300 range was launched in September 1994 as a replacement for the eight-year old XJ40 range, there were 3.2 litre and 4-litre versions of the XJ6, using the AJ16 engine, an improved version of the original AJ6 engine. There was also still the XJ12 model with Jaguar’s famous 6 litre V12. The Daimler range consisted of two models, the 4-litre Six and the V12 Double Six. However, after three years, in 1997 both the six and twelve cylinder cars were replaced by the XJ8, with Jaguar’s new AJ-V8 engine.


This Jaguar XJ8, a long wheelbase Super V8 in Black Cherry to the very special ‘Portfolio’ specification, is a very historic car. It was the last car to be built in the Browns Lane factory, on 1 July 2005, before X350 production was moved to the Castle Bromwich factory. It was presented by Jaguar’s Chairman Joe Greenwell to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust for preservation. The X350, so-called after its project code number, was introduced to the public at the Motor Shows in the autumn of 2002, and was the seventh generation of the Jaguar XJ saloon. It was the latest member of a family of cars that began in 1968, and as the largest and most prestigious of three Jaguar saloons, the new XJ was an up-to-date version of a classic Jaguar theme, and the company’s flagship.The new car included many advanced features, notably the all-aluminium unitary construction body shell keeping the weight down, a six-speed automatic transmission, and an air suspension system. The X350 offered considerably more interior room and boot space than any previous XJ saloon, mainly achieved by building the car taller. The XJ8 featured the well-known Jaguar V8 engine, now with capacities increased to 3.5 litres and 4.2 litres, and fitted with a supercharger in the top-of-the-line XJR version. The X350 cars were at first built in Jaguar’s traditional factory at Browns Lane in Coventry, with body shells supplied from Castle Bromwich and engines from Bridgend in Wales.

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This car is the last UK Right Hand Drive (RHD) production example of the Jaguar XJ Saloon. It is the final UK specification, traditionally powered XJ – as the next generation is planned to offer hybrid and electric vehicles (EV). It is fitted with the 3.0 litre V6 diesel engine and came to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in July 2019 for preservation. XJ production finished on 5 July 2019. The eighth generation of Jaguar’s flagship XJ (codenamed X351), launched in 2010, was the first to incorporate Design Director Ian Callum’s new design language initiated with the XK in 2006. It was unveiled by US TV celebrity Jay Leno at the Saatchi Gallery in London on 9 July 2009 and the US model was subsequently launched at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Production began in March 2010, with sales commencing from May. It was the first model to feature the next-generation of Jaguar’s aerospace-inspired body architecture, constructed primarily of aluminium, but also using magnesium and composite alloys. The XJ was claimed to be the lightest car in its class by 150 kg at its launch. The new XJ introduced very high standards of personal luxury and specification, including an innovative panoramic glass roof as standard and a level of choice in colours, veneers and leathers not seen before in a Jaguar. Four trim levels were offered at launch – Luxury, Premium Luxury, Portfolio and Supersport. At launch, three of Jaguar’s new ultra-efficient Gen III petrol and diesel engines were available in the new XJ – the 3.0-litre 275 PS V6 diesel, 510 PS 5.0-litre supercharged V8 and a 5.0-litre 385 PS naturally aspirated petrol engine. In 2012, 3.0-litre V6 Supercharged and 2.0-litre i4 Turbocharged petrol engines were added to the line-up, the latter primarily for the growing Chinese market. A flagship XJR model was launched in 2013 featuring an uprated 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine producing 550 PS and 680 Nm of torque. In February 2015, a significant milestone was reached when the one millionth Jaguar XJ to be produced came off the production line at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich plant – 47 years after the original XJ6 was launched in 1968. 2018 saw the launch of two special edition versions: the XJR 575 and then to celebrate 50 years since the launch of the original XJ6 in 1968 – the XJ50. Between its launch in 2010 and the end of production in 2019 more than 120,000 X351s were built.

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This particular DS420 was originally supplied to Her Majesty the Queen Mother, replacing an earlier car of the same model that Her Majesty had used, and while in her ownership it was registered NLT 2, one of several NLT numbers found on cars owned by The Queen Mother. This car, finished in the traditional Royal colours of black over claret, was in fact the second from last of the DS420 range. The Queen Mother decided that her Jaguar and Daimler cars should eventually return to the Jaguar Company’s museum, which duly happened after Her Majesty passed away in 2002. When Jaguar merged with the British Motor Corporation in 1966, both companies manufactured limousine models, the ageing Daimler Majestic Major and the Vanden Plas Princess 4 litre. It was decided to replace both of these older models with a single new limousine, which would bear the Daimler name and would be based on Jaguar components, but which would be assembled in the Vanden Plas factory at Kingsbury in London. The result was the DS420 which was launched in 1968 and co-incidentally became the first new model of the newly-merged British Leyland company. It was based on an extended floorpan from the Jaguar 420G, which made the DS420 the biggest ever British car with unitary body construction. The engine was the well-known Jaguar XK in 4.2 litre form, with an automatic gearbox as standard. The semi-razor-edged style of the body was probably inspired by some of the classic Hooper bodies on Daimler chassis. The basic bodyshell was supplied by Motor Panels in Coventry and mechanical components were fitted by Jaguar at Browns Lane, before the limousines were sent to Vanden Plas for final assembly and trim. When the Vanden Plas factory closed in 1979, final assembly and trim moved back to a special Limousine Shop in the Jaguar factory at Browns Lane.

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This particular car was built as a one off, by Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations department (SVO), to demonstrate a possible flagship vehicle for the company. The car was stretched by eight inches in the front doors, and five inches in the rear doors, with the roof being approximately two inches higher in the crown area, to maintain the proportions of the car. Mechanically, the car was identical to the standard Daimler Six saloon with the 4 litre engine. The X300 range of Jaguar and Daimler saloons was launched in September 1994, with a choice of the new six-cylinder AJ16 engine and the V12 engine. The Daimler versions were the Daimler Six and Daimler Double Six respectively. Compared to its XJ40 predecessor, the X300 had much improved and more elegant styling – called ‘retrolutionary’ as it combined ‘retro’ elements with evolution. Under the skin, the X300 shared the basic features of the XJ40 but was much improved. The interior features a high level of luxury trim, including telephones in the front and rear, Sony video recorder, and TV screens located in the headrests of the front seats for use by rear seat passengers. Blinds are provided to ensure privacy. This was originally a working vehicle, and was used regularly by Sir Nick Scheele when he was Chairman of Jaguar Cars. Subsequently, it was added to the Jaguar Heritage collection. Although most of the X300 models were available with a choice of wheelbase lengths, the difference between short and long wheelbase is a modest five inches and is accommodated in the rear door. No further examples of the ‘double-stretch’ extra-length wheelbase version were made. However, independent coachbuilders stepped in and offered stretched conversions based on the X300, with even longer wheelbases and an extra centre row of seats, as is often required for formal or processional occasions.

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This Daimler Corsica is a one-off concept car named after a 1931 Daimler drophead coupe. The name of the original car was actually the name of its coachbuilder. Corsica was a small London company which between the wars offered exotic body styles on many high-grade chassis, built individually to orders from wealthy and discriminating clients. The idea of building a modern equivalent of the Daimler Corsica came from the late David Boole, Jaguar’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, who wanted to commemorate the Centenary of the Daimler motor car in 1996. Built by the Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) team, as a part time project over a period of eighteen months, the car is based on the Jaguar/Daimler X300 saloon car platform, but with a reduced wheelbase. It features an automatic folding hood, unique interior trim, and is finished in the ‘Insignia’ colour of Peppermint Green. Nick Scheele, Jaguar’s Chairman and Managing Director, said at the time ‘We wanted to make this a milestone in the history of the Daimler marque, with something which truly evoked the spirit of the elegance, exclusivity and luxury which deservedly gave Daimler its outstanding reputation.’ It has aroused great interest amongst enthusiasts, although the car was never intended to be put into production. It was turned over to the JDHT for preservation, as a modern example of the traditional craftsmanship that is still the hallmark of the Jaguar and Daimler marques. It was originally intended that this would be a fully running car, but due to time constraints this never happened. In 2006/7 in association with the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club (JEC) and David Marks Garages this project was completed.

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This concept vehicle was built by Jaguar Special Vehicles Operations (SVO) to demonstrate a possible saloon based coupé version of the XJ40. After the two-door coupé version of the XJ Series 2 was discontinued in 1977, Jaguar did not have an entrant in the exclusive market for full four-seater GT cars. There was never quite enough room in the back of an XJS for this to qualify for the description ‘four-seater’. However, the idea of producing such a vehicle was not forgotten within the company. While the SVO department was mainly concerned with providing modified cars to individual customer orders, SVO also from time to time would prepare concept cars as studies for what might become future production Jaguars. The highly skilled craftsmen in SVO could take a basic standard body shell, cut it up and lengthen or shorten it, and assemble it into a car finished to the highest standard. On this coupé concept, the front doors were stretched by eight inches over standard, while the wheelbase was reduced by six inches but unlike the Series 2 XJ6 Coupé it was not pillarless. Mechanically, the car was similar to the standard saloon, with the 6 litre V12 engine. The interior was re-worked to include tilting front seats allowing access to the rear, and the car was re-trimmed with a distinctive contrast colour used for seat piping and carpets. It is difficult to say whether this coupé version was seriously considered for production. Since this one-off study was made almost at the end of production of the XJ40 range, it is certain that it would not have been introduced in the form seen here, but a production version could have been based on the X300 range, the successor to the XJ40 introduced in 1994. Also at the same time that this coupé concept was built, Jaguar was working on the XK8, the XJS replacement which was considered to be a more important new model in the GT class, and which was introduced in 1996.

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In 1992 Jaguar had never made a production estate car; although they went on to make the X-TYPE estate in 2004 and the XF Sportbrake in 2012. Nevertheless, there have been many Jaguar estate cars over the years. Indeed, none other than Duncan Hamilton, the 1953 Le Mans winner, had a couple of Mark VII saloons converted to estate cars for his own use, while later, Appleyards, the famous Jaguar distributor of Leeds, converted two Mark IXs to estate cars. Duncan Hamilton and Mike Hawthorn were keen on the idea of having estate cars based on the compact 3.4 litre saloon, but Hawthorn’s tragic death put paid to the project. However, inspired by Hamilton, Jones Bros (Coachbuilders) converted a Mark II 3.8 litre saloon into the ‘County’ estate which was acquired by Jaguar Cars Limited and saw use as a rally support vehicle during the 1960s. This car was a capable and handsome load carrier with a top speed not far short of the 125 mph of the standard saloon model. Subsequently, Sir William Lyons became interested in developing an estate car based on the successful XJ saloon. In his retirement he experimented with sticks and string on his own XJ to achieve the correct proportions. Then in 1980 the Ladbroke Avon coachbuilding company unveiled their estate car version of the XJ series 3, with a price of £6,500 for the conversion, plus the cost of the car! Small scale production continued through the 1980s, and this period also saw the Lynx ‘Eventer’, an estate car conversion based on the XJS coupé. By the late 1980s Jaguar had themselves become more interested in developing an estate car, based on the new XJ40. This was an official project undertaken by the Design and Engineering Centre at Whitley, and resulted in this ‘Shooting Brake’ which was seriously considered for production. However, in the difficult climate of the early 1990s, inevitably there were concerns over the viability of the project, which was, reluctantly, abandoned.


This car is an early pre-production X350 (v8 engine XJ), which was specially finished in polished aluminium to show off the new body material. Together with a similarly-finished left-hand drive car, it was used for the launch presentation and motor show displays, before it was presented to the collection of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust for preservation. The X350 went on general sale in April 2003. The X350, so-called after its project code number, was introduced to the public at the motor shows in the autumn of 2002 and was the seventh generation of the Jaguar XJ saloon. It was the latest member of a family of cars that began in 1968 and by the time the X350 was introduced, had reached a total production of over 800,000 cars. As the largest and most prestigious of the three Jaguar saloon ranges, the new XJ was an up-to-date version of the classic Jaguar theme, and remained the company’s flagship. The new car included many advanced features, notably the all-aluminium unitary construction bodyshell, a six-speed automatic transmission and an air suspension system with double wishbones front and rear. Styling and proportions were clearly inspired by its forebears. Despite this, the X350 offered considerably more interior room and boot space than any previous XJ saloon, mainly achieved by building the car taller, while the aluminium construction helped to keep weight down. After an absence of a six cylinder XJ model for some years, the new range again included an XJ6, fitted with the 3 litre V6 engine also used in the S-TYPE and X-TYPE. The XJ8 featured the well-known Jaguar V8 engine, now with capacities increased to 3.5 litres and 4.2 litres, and fitted with a supercharger in the top-of-the-line XJR version. The X350 cars were built in Jaguar’s traditional home factory at Browns Lane in Coventry, with bodyshells supplied from Castle Bromwich and engines from Bridgend in Wales.


This car is the very last XK8 model to be built – an XKR 4.2 litre coupé – and came off the line at Browns Lane on 27 May 2005. It was immediately handed over to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust for preservation. The replacement for the XK8 was the all-aluminium XK launched in September 2005. The XK8 sports car, first introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1996 (sometimes referred to by its product code of X100) was the replacement for the XJS. The new XK8 was a typical Jaguar, combining tradition with innovation. The inspiration for the elegant design clearly came from the style of classic Jaguar sports cars of the past, notably the E-type of the 1960s, but interpreted in a modern manner. The car was styled by Fergus Pollock, working under the late Geoff Lawson and the Project Director was the engineer Bob Dover, who went on to become Jaguar’s Chairman. Under the bonnet lay the first Jaguar V8 engine. Although the Daimler sister marque had made some excellent V8s in the 1960s, and a Jaguar V8 design had been under consideration at the same time, this was the first Jaguar production car to be fitted with this type of engine. As used in the XK8, capacity was originally 4 litres, in 2002 enlarged to 4.2 litres. The AJV8 engine was of all-aluminium construction, with two overhead camshafts per bank and 32 valves producing 290 bhp. In 1998 a supercharger was fitted on the XKR version, even more powerful at 370 bhp, although the top speed of both models was identical, limited to 155 mph. Both the XK8 and XKR were available in coupé and convertible form. They made a significant impact on the world market for luxury sports cars, with most of the production being exported, especially to the USA. Total production of the XK8 and XKR range was 91,406 cars, and it is worth noting that there were two convertibles for every coupé, reflecting the greater popularity of the open car in the USA.


The film Die Another Day released by MGM Studios and EON Productions in November 2002 was the 20th film in the James Bond series, the most successful film series of all time. In this film, the hero was once again to be found behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, following the tradition from the 1960s when an Aston Martin was first used by James Bond in the film Goldfinger. In the years in between, many other makes of car have featured in the Bond films. So while the Jaguar XKR undoubtedly had an important role in Die Another Day, it was the villain’s rather than the hero’s car. The Jaguar XKR was the car of Zao, played by Rick Yune. The XKR was seen as an appropriate match for Zao, combining a sleek exterior with a heart of power and ferocity. The car was equipped with a Gatling gun mounted centrally behind the seats, while further armaments included missiles fired through the front grille, rocket launchers in the doors and mortar bombs in the boot. There were in fact no less than eight Jaguar XKR cars used in filming. Half of these were standard cars with only cosmetic modifications, the rest were rather more special as they were built on a complete four-wheel drive chassis, apart from having all the weapons systems. The work was done in the Pinewood Studios workshops in England. Of course, from the outside all the cars looked the same, and all were finished in the same metallic light green that was used for the Jaguar Racing Formula One Grand Prix cars. The reason why it was necessary to re-build both the Jaguar, and Bond’s Aston Martin, with four wheel drive, is that these cars featured in one of the most amazing sequences in the film, a dramatic car chase on ice, filmed on location in Iceland in early 2002. For this reason, some of cars were also fitted with Icelandic number plates. And to find out how the chase ended, you will have to watch the film for yourself!

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The ALC, or Advanced Lightweight Coupé, was the third in a series of much-acclaimed concept cars to emerge from Jaguar’s Design Studio under the leadership of Design Director Ian Callum. The two previous designs had been the R-coupé of 2001, and the R-D6 of 2003. While each in its way pointed to a future design direction for Jaguar, as would soon become obvious, the ALC was the one closest to a production car, both in design, and in its timing. Ian Callum and Design Manager Giles Taylor sought their inspiration in some of the famous Jaguars of the past, notably the E-type of 1961, with the shape of the radiator grille, the bonnet and the hatchback of the two-plus-two coupé echoing its famous forerunner. However, the proportions, style and details of the ALC, with its 21-inch alloy wheels, complex headlamp shapes and aluminium gills on the front wings, were completely contemporary and suitable for a 21st century Jaguar. The clean and uncluttered interior showed a similar approach, combining traditional stitched tan leather with modern aluminium inserts. The functional layout of the instrument binnacle, the gear change paddles mounted on the steering wheel and the adjustable pedal box showed that this was first and foremost a driver’s car. In engineering terms. The ALC featured an immensely rigid all-aluminium chassis as first seen on the new XJ saloon in 2002, and if fitted with Jaguar’s supercharged engine, was estimated to have a top speed capability of 180 mph. The ALC was introduced to the media and the public at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2005, and was shown for the first time in Europe at the Geneva Motor Show in March. A few months later, at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, Jaguar unveiled the new XK. Only then did it become clear that the ALC had, in fact, been a ‘teaser’ for the new production car, a gorgeous and dynamic sports car true to Jaguar’s tradition for making beautiful fast cars.


This is the last Jaguar XK (X150) to be produced, coming off the production line at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich plant on Thursday 24th July 2014. In a special ceremony at the end of the line, the car was handed over by Castle Bromwich Operations Director, Nicolas Guibert, to Mike Beasley, Vice-Chairman of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust who received the car on behalf of the Trust for long-term safekeeping. It was registered with the special number JH14 XKR. It is finished in Italian Racing Red with Warm Charcoal seats and fascia with red stitching. It has the optional Dynamic Black Pack featuring gloss black finishes to the front grilles, air intakes, side power vents and boot lid finisher as well as 20 inch Vortex alloy wheels. It is also fitted with a 174 mph speed limiter, Carbon Fibre Engine Cover and Adaptive Front Lighting. Jaguar’s new sports car, known internally by its project number X150, was announced in October 2005. The New XK as it was called inherited many technical features from the XJ saloons launched in 2003. Unusually for a sports car it was designed as a convertible first to ensure the maximum rigidity possible with the all-aluminium construction following the same processes as the big XJ saloon. The coupé and convertible were launched with the 4.2 litre AJ-V8 engine with 300 bhp mated to the ZF six-speed automatic transmission. The XKR was announced for the 2007 model year in both convertible and coupé form. The 420 bhp supercharged engine, improved brakes, suspension and subtle trim changes differentiated the XKR from the normally aspirated XK models. At the Geneva Motor Show in 2009 the XKs received a major boost with the replacement of the 4.2 litre engine with the AJ-V8 Gen III 5-0-litre V8 engines providing a considerable increase in performance. This gave the XKR 510 PS with heart racing performance and seamless power delivery with tremendous torque – up to 625 Nm. Steering and brakes were also upgraded.


This car is the first production X-Type, which came off the assembly line in February 2001 and was delivered to the collection of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust for preservation. After a period of great expectation, Jaguar released details of the X-Type on 1st November 2000, and unveiled the new car in the metal to an international audience at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2001. The X-Type was therefore the youngest member of the expanding Jaguar family. It was Jaguar’s first entry into the compact sports saloon market. The X-Type was the smallest-engined Jaguar for thirty years, since the classic 2.4 litre and Mark 2 models of the 1950s and 1960s. The X-Type featured an innovative technical specification. It was fitted with a choice of two AJ-V6 engines developed from the engine already used in the S- Type. Power was 194 bhp for the 2½ litre model, and 231 bhp for the 3 litre. Top speeds range from 137 mph to 146 mph (220 km/h to 234 km/h). There were five different versions available, an entry level 2½ Iitre model, ‘Sport’ and ‘Special Equipment’ versions fitted with either engine size. All X-Types featured the Traction-4 full time all-wheel drive system, which offers agile handling and sure-footed road holding. The car was built in Jaguar’s totally refurbished Halewood plant, located on Merseyside in the north-west of England, the result of an investment of £300 million. It was expected that when the X-Type was in full production, it would more than double Jaguar’s previous best annual sales figure of 90,000 cars (reached in 2000), and that fifty per cent of X-Types would be sold in European markets.

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This car is unique in the catalogue of X-Types. It is a V6 development car with a supercharged 3.0 litre, petrol engine, six-speed gearbox and all-wheel drive. The six-speed gearbox is from Volvo, who at that time were also part of Ford’s ‘Premier Automotive Group’. The car was developed as a ‘Skunk’ project at the Halewood plant by a group led by Paul Freeman at the request of the company chief designer Dave Mitchell. They started with a standard production specification estate car. The initial challenge was to fit the supercharged V6 engine under the bonnet without changing the body structure so much that it needed to be crash tested separately. Paul Freeman spent much time at the Design Studio in Whitley working out how to do this and they were given access to a number of supercharged engines which were stored offsite in a lockup in the Foleshill area of Coventry. These existed as Jaguar had previously carried out a full engineering programme on X400R (R being the suffix for supercharged vehicles), which was stopped as it was felt to be more important for the Company to develop the X400 diesel engine. They managed to assemble a complete engine from the bits in storage and install it. The six-speed Volvo gearbox was installed to cope with the power. A straight through exhaust was specially made to fit the car, but this proved to be far too noisy and had to have baffles installed to reduce the noise level. After testing in Liverpool, including along Liverpool promenade, it was sent down to Coventry and driven by various people including one who was given a speeding ticket while driving the car in Leamington Spa. It was used for development testing throughout 2004/5 and gifted to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust by Jaguar Cars in 2008. The original number plate was changed to X400 SVO which relates to the X-Type’s project number ‘X400’. One of the JDHT Volunteers, Dave Stockbridge, worked on Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) on the original engineering programme, with engineer Gary Furst looking after X400R. The main work was trying to resolve a problem with the level of supercharger whine, which started out as being audible from 100 yards away. Dave recalls “We got it down to acceptable levels by ribbing the intercooler top casting. To pin down timing of this, I recall we were in a meeting with Powertrain NVH on X400R when the planes were flown into the World Trade Centre (9/11 – 11 September 2001). I believe that other X400R engines went to Ford (as the base engine was the Cleveland V6). I think the X400R Vehicle Dynamics was led by the internal Jaguar department (PAT leader Jeff Mitchell?) but the actual work was outsourced to Prodrive”. Their team included some significant engineers. The team leader was Richard Hurdwell, who had previously developed the chassis on the TR8 rally car and his engineer was Wynne Mitchell who had worked on the Sunbeam Lotus rally car. Jaguar had released details of the X-Type on 1st November 2000, and unveiled the new car in the metal to an international audience at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2001. The X-Type was the fourth and smallest member of the expanding Jaguar family. It was Jaguar’s first entry in the compact sports saloon market and the smallest-engined Jaguar for thirty years, since the classic 2.4 litre models of the 1950s and 1960s. The X-Type had an innovative technical specification. It was originally fitted with a choice of two AJ-V6 engines developed from the engine already used in the S-Type. Power was 231 bhp / PS (172 kW) for the most powerful 3 litre, giving it a top speed of 146 mph (234 km/h). 2.5 litre and 3.0 litre X-Types featured the Traction-4 full time all-wheel drive system, which offered agile handling and sure-footed road holding. All models were available in Sport and Special Equipment versions. The new car was built in Jaguar’s totally refurbished Halewood plant, located on Merseyside in the north west of England, the result of an investment of £300 million. As the X-Type went into full production, it contributed to a substantial increase in annual sales to over 120,000 cars. After only two years, 100,000 X-Types had been built. With the expanding X-Type range, Jaguar aimed to reach a new and different group of customers. The original 2.5 litre and 3.0 litre models were followed in 2002 by an even more affordable 2.1 litre front-wheel drive model, still with a V6 engine. During 2003, two further versions were introduced: a four-cylinder 2.0-litre Diesel derivative with Jaguar’s first-ever Diesel engine, and an Estate Car which similarly was Jaguar’s first production estate, launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2003. The supercharged version of the X-Type never made it into production.

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This car is the last-of-line Jaguar S-Type that came off the production line on 18th September 2007. The S-Type was in production from 1999 until 2007 when a total of 291,386 cars were produced. The X200 model, named the S-Type after the equivalent Jaguar model of the 1960s and launched at the 1998 British International Motor Show at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, was one of the most eagerly awaited new Jaguar models for many years. For the first time in almost thirty years, it gave Jaguar a second saloon model in the range, it brought Jaguar back to its roots as a maker of compact luxury sports saloons. It was the first all-new saloon model introduced after the Jaguar company had been taken over by Ford in 1989. While the S-Type initiated the policy of sharing selected components with other cars manufactured by the Ford Group, the designers and engineers behind the car remained faithful to the ideal of making the car a true Jaguar thoroughbred. This was evident in the distinctive style, developed under the guidance of the late Geoff Lawson, Jaguar’s Design Director whose last work the S-Type was. The car featured several instantly recognisable Jaguar styling signatures, evoking the spirit of Jaguars of the past, without being in any way ‘retro styled’. The chassis was carefully engineered, with double wishbone front and rear suspension, to provide the unique Jaguar driving experience, offering a remarkable combination of agile handling with supple ride and luxurious comfort worthy of the marque. The engines were the well-proven Jaguar AJ-V8 of 4 litres, or alternatively the new AJ-V6 engine of 3 litres. Overall, the S-Type gave Jaguar a convincing entry in the important executive class. In 2002 the S-Type was given a complete makeover with minor changes to the exterior and interior and revisions to the engine line-up including the introduction of the supercharged 4.2 litre S-Type R. Further improvements arrived in 2004 with a facelifted front and rear end incorporating a lighter, aluminium bonnet and boot. Also introduced at this time was a diesel engine of 2.7 litre capacity, a joint venture with Ford and Peugeot-Citroën. This was an entirely new engine with new technology like a block made from lightweight compacted graphite iron.


This car is the first XF production model and is fitted with the supercharged engine and finished in the colour Vapour Grey. It was gifted to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust collection straight from the production line on 23 November 2007. With the launch of the C-XF concept car at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2007, Jaguar set out in a completely new direction for future designs, developed by Design Director Ian Callum and the Head of the Advanced Studio Julian Thomson. The C-XF received a tremendous welcome for its modern and distinctive styling. Before the C-XF was revealed, Jaguar had announced that the replacement for the S-Type saloon would be called the XF, and now confirmed that the forthcoming production model would be very close to the concept car. The XF production car made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2007, and was in turn warmly welcomed, as the first new car of Jaguar’s future. Despite the XF being a departure from previous Jaguars, Ian Callum was very conscious of Jaguar’s heritage. In his view, throughout its history Jaguar had created some of the most striking, modern and beautiful saloons. The objective with XF was to create a car which in the modern age had an equally great impact, as the Jaguars of the past had in their day. The XF still had some Jaguar design cues. The recessed radiator grille was inspired by the 1968 XJ6. The grille in turn defined the rest of the shape, which was more like the XK fastback coupé, than a traditional saloon. The headlamp fairings and the rear side window shape also nodded to tradition. The Jaguar leaper was still found but only on the rear! The interior featured wood and leather, but used in a contemporary and innovative manner. The new car was built on a developed S-Type platform and used the same engines, ranging from the acclaimed 2.7-litre Diesel V6 to the range-topping supercharged 4.2-litre V8.


This is a 2.2 diesel R-Sport version of the XF saloon, finished in Glacier White with optional Black Pack. It is the very last XF (X250) produced at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich manufacturing plant and came off the line on June 8, 2015. It was gifted to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust at a special handover ceremony on June 9 and was subsequently registered with the special number J15 XFR. The first generation XF (codenamed X250) made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2007 following the unveiling of the widely acclaimed C-XF concept at Detroit earlier the same year. Although based on a developed S-TYPE platform, the XF was the second product to benefit from Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum’s new design language – resulting in a striking, modern style that was a big departure from the model it replaced. The new car was launched with engines carried over from the S-TYPE, ranging from the acclaimed 2.7-litre Diesel V6 to the range-topping supercharged 4.2-litre V8, marketed exclusively as the XF SV8 derivative. Unlike the new XK launched two years earlier and the new XJ which was to follow, the XF retained a conventional steel body construction but with aluminium alloy used for some of the closure panels and a magnesium cross car beam to save weight. To complement its radical exterior design, the XF also incorporated a dramatic, modern interior which featured many innovations including a unique rotary gear selector, hidden facia air vents which rotated open on engine start-up, cool blue ‘mood’ lighting and proximity sensing switches for the interior lights. For the 2010 model year, the XF underwent a number of upgrades with some significant changes to the engine line up – a new higher power 3.0 V6 diesel engine replacing the prior 2.7 litre unit and an all-new 5.0 litre V8 replacing the 4.2 litre. The SV8 was replaced by an ‘R’ derivative, added to the line-up for the first time. The XFR featured a supercharged version of the new 5.0 V8 that produced an incredible 510 PS giving the car acceleration from 0-60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. Further changes were made for the 2012 model year when the XF underwent a mid-cycle freshening programme which saw the engine line up expanded further with the addition of a 2.2 litre 4-cylinder diesel engine and the addition of a new estate derivative – the XF Sportbrake. These additions opened up new market segments for the XF model range and broadened its appeal, leading to its best ever year of sales in 2014 with over 42,000 cars retailed globally.

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This C-X75 is prototype CX03 of 5, built in September 2012. Shakedown work started early in October and within a week it was at Rockingham track, near Corby in Northamptonshire being tested at high speeds. Most of its life was spent at the Gaydon Proving Ground developing the chassis – but the car also put in an appearance at the Goodwood festival of speed in 2013. Over the years it has worn four different colours. It started life as carbon black and has been wrapped a number of times for different publicity shots and now sports the orange colour as featured in the film. When Jaguar unveiled the C-X75 in 2010, it was the beginning of a new chapter in innovation and technological advancement that would see the car evolve from a design concept to a fully working prototype in just two years. In that short time span, Jaguar and development partner Williams Advanced Engineering created an all-wheel drive, plug-in parallel hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) with the world’s highest specific power engine and Jaguar’s first carbon composite monocoque chassis. Power was provided by a 1.6 litre petrol engine delivering 500 bhp (almost twice the 265 bhp of a 4.2 litre E-type) special Lithium-ion batteries and the lightest and most powerful electric motors in the world. This gave the C-X75, hypercar performance of 200 mph with CO2 emissions of less than 99g/km. Although the decision was taken in 2012 that as a result of the global economic climate the C-X75 would not enter full production, it was clear that it was a powerful showcase for Jaguar’s world-leading expertise in lightweight vehicle construction and the ideal test-bed for the company’s innovative research into high-performance, low emission powertrains. The great achievements in the development of C-X75 prototypes, including cutting-edge hybrid technologies, carbon composite materials and advanced design solutions pioneered in association with Williams Advanced Engineering will be utilised in other areas of research and development, innovative future products and next-generation engineering for the Jaguar brand. The Global Brand Director of Jaguar said “The C-X75 programme represents the pinnacle of Jaguar’s engineering and design expertise. It is arguably the world’s fastest test-bed for the world’s most advanced technologies, combining as it does a remarkable hybrid powertrain with awe-inspiring performance. Jaguar is always looking to shape the cars of tomorrow and with projects like C-X75 we are laying the foundations for the next generation of Jaguar innovations.” This car has now been de-commissioned and its battery, weighing 350 kg, removed.

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This very early supercharged XJR was one of the pre-production cars, built in December 1993, and modified in 1994. It was only the sixteenth X300 model to be built according to its VIN (chassis number). It was lent by Jaguar to Richard Noble, to serve as a support vehicle and fire tender for his attempt with the Thrust SSC car to set the first World Land Speed Record at more than the speed of sound. On 15 October 1997, Thrust SSC driven by Andy Green duly captured the record at 763 mph (1,228 km/h). The new X300 range was launched in September 1994 as a worthwhile replacement for the eight-year old XJ40 range, and was extensively re-designed compared with its predecessor. The styling was much improved, with every external body panel of the XJ40 being replaced by softer, more sculpted shapes, which were unmistakably Jaguar. The front end featured a contemporary re-interpretation of the classic Jaguar grille and quad headlamp layout. As originally launched, there were 3.2 litre and 4 litre versions of the XJ6, featuring the AJ16 engine, an improved version of the original AJ6 engine. For the first time, there was a supercharged engine in the exciting XJR model. There was also still an XJ12 model with Jaguar’s famous 6 litre V12. The corresponding Daimler range consisted of two models, the 4 litre engined Six and the V12 engined Double Six. However, after three years, in 1997 both the six and twelve cylinder models were replaced by the XJ8, featuring Jaguar’s new AJ-V8 engine of 3.2 litres or 4 litres. The most affordable model, the XJ6 3.2-litre, cost £28,950 at launch, while the Daimler Double Six cost £59,950. The fastest models in the range were the supercharged XJR and the V12 cars, all capable of 155 mph (250 km/h). Just over 92,000 of the X300 models were made over the production period of three years. The Jaguar XJ6 4 litre models were the best-sellers.

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The XJ220 is the most extraordinary car ever to bear the name Jaguar. This is number eight of ten prototype and development cars from when the XJ220 went into production. The XJ220 concept car was made by a dozen of specialist engineers and designers, on a voluntary basis in their own time, with help from about forty of Jaguar’s suppliers. The team behind the car became famous as ‘the Saturday club’. The result of their labours was unveiled by Sir John Egan at the International Motor Show in the National Exhibition Centre on 18 October 1988. XJ220 was the brainchild of Jaguar’s chief engineer, Professor Jim Randle, who originally planned to make a Group B car, equally at home both on the road and the racetrack – a limited production supercar, to match the Ferrari F40 and the Porsche 959. He came up with the basic concept in December 1984 over the Christmas period making the original central tub out of cardboard. He later joked that this was the first car to be designed using CAD – Cardboard Aided Design. Engineering and styling work began in early 1985. The designer responsible for the shape of the car was Keith Helfet, the South African born Royal College of Art graduate who had become Jaguar’s senior sports car designer, and later designed the XK180 and F-type concept cars. The XJ220 concept car had chassis, engine and drive train based on the Jaguar Group C racing cars, with the addition of a prototype four wheel drive system. At the same time, it offered traditional Jaguar qualities, with a superb leather interior, and the beautifully shaped aluminium body. It was never intended to be a production car, merely a demonstration of the company’s abilities. However, demand for the car was so great that a feasibility study was carried out, and in late 1989 the project was approved. From 1992 to 1994, a total of 281 XJ220 cars were produced by Jaguar Sport, a joint venture between Jaguar and Tom Walkinshaw operating in a factory at Bloxham in Oxfordshire, which later became the Aston Martin DB7 factory. The production car was somewhat different from the concept, with a TWR V6 engine and rear wheel drive only, and originally sold at a list price of £400,000. The top speed was around 213 mph (343 km/h), as measured in independent road tests – enough for the XJ220 to claim the title of the fastest production car in the world at that time.

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This modified F-Type is the product of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Operations division. Based on an F-Type R AWD coupé, it was developed as a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) to support the Bloodhound SSC programme for which Jaguar is a technical partner. Following an initial outing at Coventry Motofest and Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2015, the car was further modified to support a high speed test of the parachute system that will be used to slow down the Bloodhound SSC when it makes its attempt on the world speed record. After a gap of nearly 40 years, Jaguar returned to the true sports car market with the new F-Type which was unveiled in convertible form at the Paris Motor Show in September 2012. F-Type is the spiritual successor to the legendary E-Type and was engineered for high performance and instantaneously responsive handling – the latest model in a distinguished bloodline. The design team, led by Ian Callum, developed the F-Type from the C-X16 concept car that received a rapturous reception at Frankfurt in 2011. F-Type features a lightweight aluminium body structure with high torsional rigidity which is the ideal platform for a convertible sports car and is fundamental to the way it performs, handles and feels. The powertrain line-up at launch featured three highly advanced supercharged petrol engines – 3.0 V6 340 PS, 3.0 V6 380 PS and 5.0 V8 495 PS. These were all coupled to a new ‘Quickshift’ eight speed close ratio automatic transmission designed to keep the engine in the optimum power band at all speeds. A coupé model was added in 2014 together with a new ‘R’ variant (available in both coupé and convertible form) featuring a 550 PS version of the supercharged V8 engine which provides acceleration from 0-100 km/h (0-60 mph) in 4.0 seconds. An all-wheel drive option was also added for ‘S’ and ‘R’ models.

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This car is a one-off conversion created by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Operations division to support Team Sky on the time trial Stage 20 of the 2014 Tour de France. Based on an F-Type R coupé, it incorporates a number of bespoke features including a new racking solution, which carried two of the team’s Pinarello Bolide TT bikes. The vehicle exterior is finished in Team Sky’s famous livery, with colour ways and other Team Sky graphic design features also present inside the car. Further features include a separate electric supply in the boot which provides power to the radios, amplifiers, microphones, horns and televisions which supported communications between Team Sky’s Sports Director and the rider. After a gap of nearly 40 years, Jaguar returned to the true sports car market with the new F-Type which was unveiled in convertible form at the Paris Motor Show in September 2012. F-Type is the spiritual successor to the legendary E-Type and was engineered for high performance and instantaneously responsive handling – the latest model in a distinguished bloodline. The design team, led by Ian Callum, developed the F-Type from the C-X16 concept car that received a rapturous reception at Frankfurt in 2011. F-TYPE features a lightweight aluminium body structure with high torsional rigidity which is the ideal platform for a convertible sports car and is fundamental to the way it performs, handles and feels. The powertrain line-up at launch featured three highly advanced supercharged petrol engines – 3.0 V6 340PS, 3.0 V6 380PS and 5.0 V8 495PS. These are all coupled to a new ‘Quickshift’ eight speed close ratio automatic transmission designed to keep the engine in the optimum power band at all speeds. A coupé model was added in 2014 together with a new ‘R’ variant (available in both coupé and convertible form) featuring a 550PS version of the supercharged V8 engine which provides acceleration from 0-100km/h in 4.0 seconds. An all-wheel drive option was also added for ‘S’ and ‘R’ models F-Type’s interior combines functional ergonomics with sporting style through its precisely considered cockpit architecture, its simple controls and its clear instrumentation. It is designed to put the driver first and, with a wide choice of interior colours and textures, is an opportunity for individual expression.

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The F-TYPE Project 7 is a collectors’ edition sports car, with a limited run of only 250 worldwide. At its launch in 2014 it was the fastest and most powerful production Jaguar ever, capable of reaching 0-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph. Designed by Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) team it had one pure purpose – driving pleasure. It debuted at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed – in the 60th anniversary year of the Jaguar D-type racer that inspired its design. Project 7 was inspired by Jaguar’s proud racing past. Its name is derived from the seven times Jaguar has won the famous Le Mans 24-hour race. Three of those historic wins came in Jaguar’s iconic 1950s D-type. The brief to the design team was to conceive a modern day D-type – F-TYPE Project 7 is the exhilarating result. F-TYPE Project 7’s power comes from Jaguar’s 5.0 litre supercharged V8 engine, now in 575 PS / 680 Nm form, enabling the all-aluminium-bodied car – which weighs 1,585 kg – to achieve acceleration from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds (0-100 km/h in 3.9-seconds) and an electronically-limited top speed of 186 mph (300 km/h). F-TYPE Project 7 is fully road-legal, with a removable roof and 196-litre stowage space. Power is sent to the rear wheels through Jaguar’s eight-speed ‘Quickshift’ transmission and second generation Electronic Active Differential (EAD). Carbon Ceramic Matrix (CCM) brakes, available as an option on the F-TYPE R Coupé, are fitted as standard on F-TYPE Project 7, offering powerful, consistent, fade-free braking. Another standard feature is Torque Vectoring by Braking (TVbB) which, working in conjunction with the EAD, enables extremely precise handling. Bespoke carbon-fibre aerodynamic aids and a unique suspension set-up enable F-TYPE Project 7 to deliver a truly engaging driving experience. Key design elements include the D-type-inspired fairing behind the driver’s head, shorter windshield, new front bumper, and downforce-increasing aerodynamic modifications – including a carbon-fibre front splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser and adjustable rear spoiler. The original single-seater concept has been transformed into a two-seater, with rollover hoops for both driver and passenger now integrated into the design. In Project 7, the design DNA of the historic D-type has been blended with that of the cutting edge F-TYPE, itself a winner of the World Car Design award. While the most prominent retro styling cue is the distinctive ‘hump’ behind the driver’s head, the D-type’s flowing, swooping lines inform the whole design.

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Project 8 was announced in May 2018 as the ‘World’s Fastest Saloon’ based on the Jaguar XE, with 600 PS from a 5.0 litre Supercharged V8 engine and is the most powerful, road legal, Jaguar in history. Total production was limited to 300 cars worldwide, each one hand-assembled at the SVO Technical Centre in Warwickshire, England. Available in either ‘two-seat – Track Pack’ version or a ‘road-biased four-seater’ – both exclusively available in left hand drive. Prototype versions were tested at proving grounds across Europe including the Nürburgring Nordschleife achieving the fastest lap ever for a 4 door saloon car on the Nordschleife at 7 min 18.4 seconds. Project 8 also holds saloon car records at Laguna Seca (USA) and the Dubai Autodrome which means it holds records on three continents. This car has had a fairly busy life as a development car, used for a whole series of engineering work and was then used at the Press Launch of the Project 8 at Portimao in Portugal in May 2018. It was used to develop the lower profile spoiler for the ‘Touring Pack’ which was announced on 5 June 2019. Only 15 Project 8 vehicles with the Touring Pack were made, all in the four-seat configuration.

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When the E-Type finally ceased production in 1975 it was replaced with the stylish, but large, XJS. The XJ41 and XJ42 used the underpinnings, suitably modified, from the short wheelbase XJ12 saloon and incorporated much from the standard Jaguar line-up of the time. A replacement for the E-Type had been on stocks for some time, and the basic design was continuously improved and kept up to date with suitable modification. By the time the E-Type Series III appeared there were full size mock-ups, using cues from the Series III, for proposed replacements. None of them was considered for production and, as we note above, the XJS was launched as the new sports car. The XJ41 started life as quite a lean machine, but as the project evolved the car gained weight and bulk. Besides, by this time Jaguar, still in BL ownership, was in serious financial trouble and the likelihood of a new sports car seemed remote. The new cars were coded XJ41 (Targa Top Coupé version) and XJ42 (Convertible version) and took shape in the early part of 1980. During 1988 the car was shown at several clinics, and the positive results buoyed Jaguar’s confidence in the project. Mock-ups of the car were clearly admired by all who saw them; this was a very attractive car for the 1990s and would not disgrace Jaguar in any way. Ford purchased Jaguar at the end of 1989 and every aspect of the Company and every project was put under microscopic scrutiny. Ford’s management decided to make the quality of the cars already in production a priority and the XJ41/42 programme was cancelled.

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The XK 180 was revealed to the public at the Paris Motor Show in October 1998, after an incredibly short gestation period of only ten months. The event happily coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the XK 120, the first of the classic generation of XK sports cars, which were the inspiration for the XK 180 concept. The car was created in Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) workshop. The XK180 was unveiled by Nick Scheele, Chairman and MD of Jaguar and in the video clip below he is interviewed at the launch, by Ken Gibson, Motoring Editor of The Sun. Unlike many other motor show concept cars, the XK 180 was a fully operational vehicle. It was based on a shortened XKR platform, and featured the supercharged 4-litre V8 engine developing 450 bhp, together with a 5-speed automatic gearbox with both automatic and manual options. Unlike other Jaguars of the period that have the J-gate manual gear selector, the steering-wheel has push buttons for sequential gear changes, left button to change up and right to change down. The floor-pan was shortened by 5 inches (13 cm) in the wheelbase and about 8 inches (20 cm) trimmed off the front and rear overhangs. The all-aluminium body was made by Abbey Panels, a long-standing Jaguar supplier which had made the C- and D-type bodies in the 1950s, as well as the XJ13 and the XJ220. In fact, two XK 180 cars were built, the other a left-hand drive car, which is based in the USA. The XK180 was loaned to the BBC to review on Top Gear and driven by Tiff Needell, who seems to have ignored the instruction to ‘be gentle’. The body styling was developed under the direction of Keith Helfet, the senior Jaguar designer whose previous work included the XJ220. Helfet designed the XK 180 to be a modern interpretation of the classic Jaguar themes seen in the Le Mans winning D-type of the 1950s, and the E-type of the 1960s. However, the XK 180 was at the same time a completely modern design, intended as a showcase of Jaguar technology for the new millennium, showing the direction for sporting variants of Jaguar products. The XK 180 was given an enthusiastic reception, as it was seen as an indication that Jaguar might at a future date bring back a compact sports car, as a latter-day successor to the classic XK and E-type models.

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Following the reception given to the XK180 Concept Car introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1998, it was natural that Jaguar’s designers wanted to explore further the idea of creating the ideal compact Jaguar roadster, a car which would evoke the spirit of the XK120 and the E-Type, but which would still be modern, dynamic and technically advanced – an exercise in pure sports car design. The result was the F-Type Concept Roadster which was launched at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2000. The F-Type Concept design team was led by Keith Helfet, who had also been responsible for the XJ220 supercar and the XK180. While the XK180 was designed around existing mechanical components, which dictated the car’s size and layout, there were no such limitations on the roadster concept. The car is therefore more compact than either the XK180, or the XKR on which the XK180 was based. Unlike the two XK180s which are fully functional cars, the F-Type Concept is a non-running design mock-up. However, the F-Type Concept was still designed with an eye to production, and would accept the AJ V6 engine used in the S-Type and X-Type saloons, with either rear wheel drive or all-wheel drive. To achieve the equal weight distribution which is required for excellent vehicle dynamics, the long bonnet and cockpit set well back, give the car the balanced proportions of a traditional Jaguar sports car. Practicality was not sacrificed to appearance, and the F-Type Concept was packaged not only to allow sufficient accommodation and luggage space, but also with an eye to world-wide legal requirements. Together with Jaguar’s entry into Formula 1 racing, the F-Type Concept reaffirmed Jaguar’s commitment to sportiness and excitement, and was a signal of Jaguar’s intention to return to the true sports car market.


This stunning Concept car was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2001. Under the leadership of Jaguar’s Design Director Ian Callum and the Advanced Design Studio Head, Julian Thomson, the exterior design was the work of Matt Beaven, while the interior was done by Mark Phillips. The car was designed and constructed within little more than six months. As a full four-seater coupé, it was a type of car that Jaguar had not produced for twenty-five years, but it followed the tradition of the classic XJ-C coupé of the 1970s. However, the R-Coupé was not intended for production, although it may be a pointer to the future direction for Jaguar design. While the car incorporated S-TYPE chassis parts, it was not fitted with an engine. The wheelbase of 2,909 mm and the impressive 21 inch ten-spoke alloy wheels gave the car massive presence. High-tech features included pivoting Xenon headlights, and LEDs were used for fog lights and brake lights. Most concept cars are painted in a shade of silver as this is both a very neutral colour and it shows off all the ‘light-lines’ to their best effect. This R-Coupé was originally finished in Pewter, the car was subsequently repainted Metallic Green. Although the design still incorporated many traditional Jaguar cues, notably the shape of the grille and the four-headlamp layout, the R-Coupé borrowed less heavily from Jaguar’s design heritage than other recent production cars. However, the car was true to the Jaguar tradition for elegance, with its clean uncluttered shape. Many body details were modelled in silver-plated metal, even silver, including the badges. The interior showed a similar approach, using traditional materials such as wood and leather but in a fresh and modern style. There were four individual seats upholstered in tan Connolly leather. The dash was finished in anodised aluminium and leather, and had simple but elegant instruments. The handbrake was electric, and gear changes were made using paddles mounted on the steering wheel, in the manner of a Formula 1 racing car. A centre console stretching the length of the interior incorporated, whimsically, a removable whisky flask. In September 2019 Jaguar Land Rover their new Design Studio in their brand new building on their Gaydon site. JLR requested a number of concept cars from the JDHT Collection to ‘dress’ the studio and show off examples of some of their past designs. These included the R-D6, the CXF Concept, our XF SV8 and the R-Coupé and the company decided that the R-Coupé would look better as it was first displayed – they re-sprayed it back to its original colour of Pewter.

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Following on from the R-Coupé of 2001, R-D6 represented a further development of the new design direction for Jaguar, under the leadership of Jaguar’s Design Director Ian Callum, and Julian Thomson as Chief Designer of Advanced Design. However, as well as being a style statement, the R-D6 also showcased a number of important new engineering developments. It was built as a fully functional prototype, and was unveiled at the German Motor Show in Frankfurt in September 2003 – and was therefore fitted with left-hand drive to European specification. The body and chassis of the car were made from aluminium and composite materials, following on from the all-aluminium X350 launched in 2002. The engine was a new departure for Jaguar, as it was the first 2.7-litre V6 twin-turbo high performance Diesel engine designed in collaboration between PAG and PSA. This engine went into production in the S-Type in 2004, and would also find other applications within the Jaguar range. With 230bhp and a weight of 1500 kg, R-D6 accelerated to 60 mph (96 km/h) in less than six seconds, and the electronically limited top speed was 155 mph (250 km/h). Traditional Jaguar cues in the exterior design were the grille, the four round headlamps faired into the bonnet, and the shape of the rear side window. The shape of the rear quarters, the side-hinged rear hatch, and the position of the exhaust tail pipes all recalled the E-type fixed head coupé of the 1960s. The comfortable and luxurious cabin used traditional materials such as wood and leather in unusual and innovative ways, and combined with aluminium to create a completely contemporary feel. The greatest surprise was that R-D6 was a compact hatchback coupé, still with four seats, featuring the unusual pillarless construction with rear-hinged rear doors. This type of car represented a new departure for Jaguar. Although it was not the intention that the R-D6 should ever go into production as you see it here, the design and type of car is likely to have a great deal of influence on the Jaguar production cars of the future.


Unveiled to universal acclaim at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2007, the C-XF was the work of Jaguar’s Design Director Ian Callum and the Head of the Advanced Studio Julian Thomson. This was their fourth concept car, following the R-coupé of 2001, the R-D6 of 2003 and the ALC of 2005. The sequence of these four cars demonstrates a remarkable transformation of Jaguar design from the style traditionally associated with the marque, to a new, very different, and above all modern and contemporary approach. Despite the C-XF being a departure from any previous Jaguar, Ian Callum was very conscious of Jaguar’s heritage. In his view, throughout its history Jaguar had created some of the most striking, modern and beautiful saloons. The objective with C-XF was to create a car which in the modern age had an equally great impact, as the Jaguars of the past had in their day. The classic sports saloons such as the Mark II and the original XJ gave Jaguar a unique position, which in Callum’s words, “We’re having back”. The C-XF still had some Jaguar design cues. The recessed radiator grille was inspired by the 1968 XJ6. The grille in turn defined the rest of the shape, which was more like the XK fastback coupé, than a traditional saloon. The headlamp fairings and the rear side window shape also nodded to tradition. The Jaguar leaper was still found but only on the rear! The interior by Alister Whelan was an equally great departure for Jaguar, creating a minimalist yet welcoming environment. Materials such as wood and leather might be traditional for Jaguar, but their use in the C-XF was near revolutionary. Even before the C-XF had been revealed, Jaguar had announced that the future replacement for the successful mid-range S-Type saloon, introduced in 1998, would be called the XF. Nor did Jaguar hesitate to confirm that the C-XF was in fact very close to the forthcoming production XF model, which in due course made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2007. Surprisingly little different from the concept car, the production XF was in turn warmly welcomed, as the first new car of Jaguar’s future.



The second floor of the building contains all the rest of the cars for which there is not space in the main building, around 250 of them. There is no real attempt to display them, as there simply is not space, so they are simply parked up, close to each other in long lines. You can wander freely among them, but depending on where they are in the line, some are easier to photograph than others. Over the years I’ve seen most of the cars presented here, as they do get rotated into the main museum, but there were a few which I knew were in the collection but had never actually set eyes on before this visit. There’s a fantastic amount of history on show here.

This 1914 Austin 20hp Vitesse phaeton was bought by a Doctor in Hawkhurst, Kent who used it for more than 20 years before donating it back to Austin.


This is a 1937 Austin Eighteen Chalfont. Part of the family of Sixteen models which were first seen in 1927, to sit under the top spec Twenty models, the badge bore the word “Six” to distinguish the cars from lesser models in the range. A wide range of body types was available at first but was simplified over the years. The coupés went first in 1930 followed by the Weymann type fabric saloons in 1931. y 1935 there were four models: Westminster, Chalfont, York and Hertford. The Westminster has a four light body, whereas the others had six. The Chalfont and York had longer wheelbases and the Chalfont, as top model in the range had a dividing partition between front and rear seats. The Chalfont was only offered from 1935 to 1937.

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The Morris Minor was already well established when rival Austin launched their competitor, the A30 Saloon of 1952. That was also the year that Austin and Morris merged to become the British Motor Corporation, so suddenly the two cars that had been conceived to compete against each other were stablemates. Except BMC did not work like that. Separate dealer chains remained in place, as they would do for a further 30 years, and whilst this may sound inefficient now, it has to be noted that brand loyalty was such that there were plenty of people would only consider an Austin say, and not a Morris, or vice versa. The A30 was smaller than the Minor and at £507, at launch, it was also £60 cheaper. The body structure was designed by T.K. Garrett, who had been an aeronautical engineer before joining Austin. It was of fully stressed monocoque chassis-less construction, which made it lighter and stiffer than most contemporary vehicles, the first Austin to be made in this way. Inside there were individual seats at the front and a bench at the rear covered in PVC with an option of leather facings on the seats. Evidence of economy was seen in only having a single windscreen wiper, central combined stop/tail/numberplate lamp and a sun visor in front of the driver only. A passenger-side wiper and sun visor, and a heater were available as optional extras. Even so, it sold well, and 223,264 examples were built. The A30 was replaced by the Austin A35 in 1956 with the new name reflecting the larger and more powerful 34 hp A-Series engine, which gave the car a slightly higher top speed and better acceleration, though much of this came as a result of different gearbox ratios. The A30 had the first three ratios close together then a big gap to top, whereas in the A35, the ratios were better spaced and gave a higher speed in third gear. That top speed was 72 mph and 0 – 60 acceleration times are just over 30 seconds, so this remains a very slow car by modern standards. The A35 was very similar in appearance to the A30, and is best recognised by its larger rear window aperture and a painted front grille, with chrome horse-shoe surround, instead of the chrome grille featured on the A30. The semaphore trafficators were replaced with present-day front- and rear-mounted flashing light indicators. A slightly easier to operate remote-control gear-change was provided. Like the A30, the A35 was offered as a two- or four-door saloon or two-door “Countryman” estate and also as a van. The latter model continued in production through to 1968. A rare coupe utility (pickup) version was also produced in 1956, with just 477 sold. Drawings were made for a sports tourer, but no prototype was actually built. The A35 passenger cars were replaced by the new body shape A40 Farina models in 1959 but the estate car version continued until 1962 and van until 1968. These days they are popular as an affordable classic. Their simple mechanicals, good availability of some parts (not bodywork, though) and pert looks give them widespread appeal. There was a neat example of a 4 door A35 here.


Launched initially as a four-seat convertible, the A90 Atlantic made its début at the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show in London, with production models built between spring 1949 and late 1950, the range was later augmented when a two-door coupé, marketed as the A90 Atlantic Sports Saloon, followed a year later. It had been previewed at the 1949 Motor Show and was in production at Longbridge between 1950 and 1952. The Atlantic was one of the first post-war cars engineered from scratch by Austin, and was said to be styled from a thumbnail sketch by Leonard Lord, then Chairman of Austin, though in truth the styling was more likely the work of resident Italian Austin stylist Dick Burzi. The car was almost certainly influenced by a 1946 Pininfarina-bodied Alfa Romeo cabriolet, which just happened to end up at the Longbridge factory in mid-1947, a few months before the light blue 16 hp sports prototype made its first appearance in the experimental department and on nearby roads around the factory. A rare edition was a coachbuilt estate car, regularly seen in the 1950s used by a convent in Leith, Scotland. The car had a lifting rear door, and sported then unusual curved perspex roof panels. With the then Government edict of “Export or die” and steel allocated only to those who generated much needed dollar revenue, the Atlantic was designed specifically to appeal to North American tastes (certain aspects look like a 1949 Mercury and the bonnet brightwork looks similar to the Pontiac Chieftains of this era). The car featured up-to-the-minute detailing, with a wrap around windscreen, composed of a flat glass centre section with, tiny curved end panels. The front wings (fenders) sported twin ‘Flying A’ hood ornaments and swept down to a rounded tail, with spats enclosing the rear wheels. A centrally mounted third, main beam, headlight was built into the letter-box style air intake grille, and the then unheard of luxury of hydraulically powered windows and hood (convertible top), “flashing indicators” rather than trafficators, (for the United States market at least) and the option of EKCO or HMV Autocrat radios. The range-topping Austin was offered in a variety of “jewelescent” colours with names like ‘seafoam green’ and ‘desert gold’ but few of these brave new metallics were sold in the UK market. The convertible, a three window, drophead coupe had a simple fabric top, without rear quarter lights, which butted up to the rear of a rather thick windscreen header rail. The fixed head, five window, Sports Saloon, could be had with its roof painted or covered in fabric. This gave it the popular ‘drophead or cabriolet’ look; all the style with no leaks. Many photographs of this car are wrongly titled, due to observers confusing the fabric covered hardtop for a convertible. As its final party trick, the centre section of the three piece, wrap-around, rear window, could be lowered into the boot, for added ventilation by a remote winder above the front windscreen. Few people in the car’s native Britain would have ever seen anything like the futuristically-styled Atlantic before, and certainly not from a conservative mainstream manufacturer like Austin. The radical Atlantic suffered, however, from the dramatically new Jaguar XK120, also launched at the 1948 Motor Show. Out of a total production run of 7,981, 3,597 were exported, 350 of which were to the US. This low level of sales in the US was despite a huge focus by Austin, including a successful attempt at breaking 63 stock car records at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in April 1949 by Alan Hess, Charles Goodacre and Dennis Buckley) and a US$1000 price reduction in 1949, the four-cylinder 2.7-litre couldn’t compare in power output to native V8 engines — although, for its time, performance was strong. A few were also used in civilian versions of the Austin Champ. The car did see more success in former British Colonies, Europe,
Scandinavia and Australasia.


This is a 1952 Austin Champ, the UK’s answer to the Jeep manufactured from 1952 to 1955 with around 13,000 built of which 1,200 were for civilian use. It was not so popular with the military and soon replaced by the Land Rover. This military example moved onto the civil register in November 1964.


By the mid 1950s, the BMC organisation was well established, and it dominated the UK market with a 39% share. Plans were made for a complete new range of cars that would encompass all the marques: Austin, Morris, MG, Riley and Wolseley. Italian stylist Pininfarina was commissioned to design them. The first model to appear was the A40, launched early in 1958. There were no examples of that model here, but there were several of the range that followed. which are often referred to as the Farina Saloons. BMC took the decision to produce a very similar looking model with each of the 5 marque’s badges attached. They were released over a period of months, starting in late 1958 with the Wolseley 15/60. This was followed by the A55 Cambridge Mark II, the Morris Oxford Series V, the MG Magnette Series III and the Riley 4/68. The same basic body style was applied to all, with just trim differences, and in the case of the MG and Riley, more powerful engines thanks to a twin carburettor set up under the bonnet, introducing the world to the concept of “badge engineering”. Whilst the styling was something of an amalgam of Italian glamour and a touch of Americana, with prominent tail fins, under the skin the cars were very conventional. Whilst some may have been disappointed that BMC had not been more adventurous, this was an era when home car maintenance was an established part of the suburban landscape, so simplicity was not completely unwelcome. The familiar 1.5-litre B-Series engine, four-speed manual and straightforward rear-wheel drive gave it solid appeal to many middle-class buyers, especially those horrified by the black magic of the newly launched front-drive Mini. All 5 cars were four-door saloons, with estate versions offered of the Austin and Morris. A facelift was applied to them all in late 1961, when the tail fins were toned down and an enlarged 1622cc B Series engine found its way under the bonnet, with more power, new names came in for the Wolseley which became the 16/60 and the Austin which adopted the A60 Cambridge name. It was this latter which was seen here.

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This is one of the famous London to Sydney Austin 1800s cars. It is based on a Mark II Model and was a rather early car and was built in 1968 and production begun in ’64, 4 years earlier. It has the original 1.8 Litre (1798cc) B-Series Straight 4 Engine, which runs on Petrol. It was spotted at The Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, and the museum owns the vehicle. The car was built as a rally car to compete in the first ever London-Sydney marathon, in December 1968. All the four 1800s entered finished and this car was crewed by Paddy Hopkirk, Tony Nash and Alec Poole. The car finished second overall, only six minutes behind the winner, a Hillman Hunter. The Hillcrest Motors car hit a wooden bridge post in Turkey putting a hole in the gearbox that wasn’t noticed until the oil loss caused terminal crankshaft damage bringing the 1800 to a halt in India. The ex-Royal Navy car of Captain Hands Hamilton. Captain Tim Lees-Spalding and Commander Philip Stearns, another of the 6 examples of the Austin entered, was the only one to finish the event undamaged. It was in 31st place. The Navy had actually helped BMC develop some aspects of the competition cars, but when it came to supplying one for this event, there was not a spare one for the Royal Navy team to drive, at which point the British School of Motoring stepped in with sponsorship and a car,which is why this one was not finished in the red and white of the other cars. It’s also why it has survived. At the end of the rally, the Australian Government had waived import duty on the competing cars, so it was much cheaper for the teams to leave the cars there and fly home. BSM wanted this one for promotional work so it was shipped back and used for police high-speed pursuit training. Its current owner found it in the 80s as a cheap rally car, but when he found the history, as an ex Navy man himself, he knew he had to preserve it. The other car here was owned by his flat mate from university days.


With the ADO17 Austin/Morris 1800 cars having ended up two classes above the volume selling 1100/1300 cars, BL needed a true mid-sized car, and that is where ADO15 came in. Developed during the mid 1960s, the car eventually made its debut as the Maxi on 1st May 1969. Promoted as the “5 of everything” car, it had 5 doors, 5 gears (both unusual in the market in those days) as well as 5 seats. It also featured a brand new engine, the 1500cc E Series, which was not really up to the task. It was also saddled with what by common consent was one of the most recalcitrant gearchanges ever inflicted on a production car, with a lever operated by rods which had to be carefully lined up to persuade the next gear to engage. That aside, the car had huge potential and a vast amount of space in a footprint that measures less than 14 feet in length. A revised version was launched in the autumn of 1970, with a cable operated gearchange and the option of a more powerful and torquey 1750cc engine. Sadly, apart from adding the twin carburettor HLS version to the range in 1972, that was about all that BL did to the design in the next 10 years. Talk about starving a model of its full potential. The last few cars were branded Series 2 and had new bumpers and interior trim, but that was about it. What a wasted opportunity! This is the very last Austin Maxi 2 to be built, in 1981.

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In 1970, the England football squad, led by Sir Alf Ramsey, were preparing to travel to Mexico City for the Word Cup. The Daily Mirror, in conjunction with the Royal Automobile Club, sent out a press release announcing a unique motor sport event; a rally which was to be waved off by Sir Alf Ramsey from Wembley Stadium on 19th April 1970 to finish in Mexico City on 27th May to coincide with the start of the world football tournament. The rally was named the ‘Daily Mirror World Cup Rally’ and the route passed through Munich, Budapest, Monza, Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago La Paz and Panama. Four BLMC Austin Maxis were prepared for the event; two works supported cars and two private teams – one of which was entered by The Royal Hussars/17/21 Lancers with Capt. HRH Prince Michael of Kent and a further private entry, which is presented today, prepared by Marshalls of Cambridge which was driven by three ladies led by Tish Ozanne with Bronwyn Burrell and Tina Kerridge as co-drivers. The event was gruelling; with 4,500 miles in Europe and 11,500 miles in South America to be covered, the tight schedules demanded a high pace be maintained in order to make each timing point with the crews also requiring oxygen whilst travelling above 15,000ft in the Andes. Out of 106 starters, only 26 finished. Hannu Mikkola won the event; Rosemary Smith finished 10th in the Works Maxi taking the Ladies prize, while the other Works Maxi finished 22nd. Capt. HRH Prince Michael of Kent went off the road at Ltuporanga, 10 miles from the start at Rio, smashing his drive shafts in the process, and withdrew. The Marshalls car sadly lost time by getting stuck in mud after leaving Buenos Aires and also had to withdraw. Apparently, the ladies were understandably devastated by this turn of events. Of these four cars, only two are known to survive today. The HRH Prince Michael car resides within the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon and the Marshall car, seen here, which remains as if it had just been competing in that famous rally. BLMC were keen for all the Maxi’s to do well and shared details of the works car preparation with the private teams; therefore, MCE 7G, prepared by Peter Baldwin, apprentice Ray Brand and painter, Richard Watts of Marshalls of Cambridge, is very much as the works Maxi. The modifications are too numerous to mention here, but do include glass fibre bonnet and doors (with Les Leston pins), plexiglass rear and side windows, welded tailgate with modified boot opening, bull bar and mesh, fog and spot lamps easily detachable via the rare Lucas rubber plug, works sump guard, strengthened and guarded suspension, front and rear telescopic dampers plus hydrolastic suspension with hydraulic pipes routed inside the car. A 25 gallon, foam filled (recently re-foamed) flexible fuel tank (dated March 1970) with separate gauge, alloy fuel tank support box and Irvin straps reside in the boot along with shovel, boot dust cover, temporary windscreen, double Lucas fuel pump and Monza fuel filler. The Maxi rides upon its original magnesium wheels with a further two being secured on the roof, all shod with new competition Maxsport tyres. The engine was originally a 1500cc unit with a cable change gear box; however, Tish Ozanne later improved the car by fitting a 1750cc unit with a rod change box for events in Europe. Inside, a John Aley roll bar is fitted, standard modified seats with rear storage, under seat tool storage, Britax seat belts front and rear, braced Intertech steering wheel, rear parcel shelf mounted suspension pump with the reservoir inside the boot, Halda Twinmaster, Smiths eight day clock with pea lights, rev. counter, 240kph rebuilt Smiths odometer, oil pressure gauge and battery gauge. Due to the altitude in the Andes, a 40,000ft altimeter is fitted with oxygen supply pipes and regulator. A push button starter gets things going. The differences between this Maxi in its battle dress and a standard car are legion and go far beyond a few rally lights and alloy wheels. Benefitting from a recent re-commission works and a tune by the original builder, Peter Baldwin, MCE 7G is one of the first 500 Maxis built.

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In 1974, British Leyland and the Transport and Road Research Laboratory undertook a joint project that resulted in the production of five experimental safety cars based on existing saloon models, each intended to concentrate on a specific safety feature. The vehicles represented a range of models and sizes – Morris Marina (SRV2), Austin 1800 (SRV3), Mini Clubman (SRV4), Austin 1300 (SRV5). All these cars had several features in common, such as a strengthened passenger cell that would withstand high-speed impact, impact resistant low-mounted bumpers, completely padded interiors giving secondary impact protection for passengers and smooth, sloping bonnets designed to minimise injury to pedestrians. Among the special features of the Mini Clubman SRV4 were a longer wheelbase to allow the engine to be moved forward for better energy absorption in the event of frontal collision, high door sills to increase strength during side impacts, collapsible steering column and the fuel tank relocated under the rear seats.

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This is the very last Austin Allegro to have been produced, dating from the end of 1982. What can be said about the Allegro that has not already been aired? Codenamed ADO67, the car was launched on 15th May 1973, as a replacement for the ADO16 range, which had for many years been Britain’s best seller. A BL management who managed to combine arrogance with naivete and a certain lack of vision confidently asserted that the Allegro would continue in this position at the top of the sales charts. It did not. Build quality of the early cars was random, and frequently plain unacceptable, and despite being bigger than the car that it replaced, there was no more space in it. But the Series 2 models, which arrived in the Autumn of 1975 fixed that offering up to 6″ more legroom, and with better quality trim, and a conventional round steering wheel rather than the unusual Quartic one of the launch cars, the reality is that the Allegro was rather better than its reputation then (and now) would suggest. For sure, it was somewhat outclassed by the VW Golf, but that was considerably more costly model for model, but there were several aspects where it could match or beat an Escort or a Viva. The E series engined 1500 and 1750 cars, with standard 5 speed gearboxes were never as popular as imagined, the market not really being ready for the idea of a large engined small car, but anyone who did buy a 1750SS or the later HL had a very brisk car indeed on their hands. By the late 70s, with a whole slew of much newer models on offer from every single competitor, the car, although better built and with a nicer interior finish, was simply too old fashioned for most people. It is testament to marketing and the skills of the dealers that the car continued to sell into the Eighties in the volumes that it did.


This is an early prototype of LC10, the car which would go onto become the Maestro. You can see the similarity from some angles, notably the front but clearly a lot changed from the 1978 date of this one and the production car of 1983.

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It was March 1983 when LM10, the new mid-sized Austin-Rover Group car was finally revealed. Design work on this one had started back in the mid 70s, even before the Metro, but the decision had been taken to prioritise the smaller car, with the result that by the time the Maestro appeared, it already looked a bit old-fashioned. There was no doubting its roominess, though, which was achieved partly because this was an attribute that BL always focused on, and also because it was a physically larger car than many of its rivals, straddling the C-segment cars like the Golf and Escort and the larger D-Segment machines such as the Sierra and Cavalier. Delayed it may have been, but the new engine for the more potent models was still not ready, so the first 1600cc cars came with the R Series unit, a hasty update on the E Series, which lasted only a year or so. 1300cc models still had the A+ unit, and still had the four speed gearbox, or the 3+E in the case of the 1.3 HLE economy model, which was disappointing as five speed units were at least an option on all the car’s rivals. The British press gave it a cautious welcome, but you could tell that they were a little disappointed. No amount of promoting the talking dashboard, a new technology gimmick was going to get over that, sadly. Nor was the fact that there was a lively MG version which hit the streets a few months later. Installation of the new S series engines in 1984, the announcement of the 2 litre MG version (which was widely praised as being a very good car) and upgraded trim over the years did little to change the car’s image and reputation, and although sales were steady, they never got close to the volumes an over-optimistic maker had forecast at launch.

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In December 1982, BL Technology revealed ECV 3 to the press – and, like its predecessor, it was made very clear that it would not be going into production, but would merely act as a mobile test-bed for new ideas and engineering concepts. It might have looked bland from the front, but the ECV 3 certainly provided a preview of how the aerodynamically-honed cars of the 1990s would look. Whatever the case, the ECV 3 was a fantastic car – and it harked back to so many BL and BMC models from the past, that it deserves a place in any account of the company’s history. Firstly, it was designed around the Issigonis maxim that it should have the maximum amount of interior space for minimum external size – and that it achieved magnificently, having more legroom than a Ford Sierra, while being some 2ft shorter. There is certainly a competitive level of interior space in the front and rear – easily better than the Ford Focus, if not as good as the cars in the class above. A remarkable achievement for 1982, though. The ECV 3 prototype had a maximum speed of 115mph and could accelerate from 0-60mph in 11.0 secs. Fuel consumption was 49mpg (ECE Urban Cycle), attaining 61mpg at 75mph, 81mpg at 56mph and 133mpg at 30mph. So clearly, the performance and economy targets had also been met – maximum speed was comaprable to 1983’s crop of 2.0-litre saloons, while its economy was unmatched by any production cars of the day. Aerodynamics played a big part in this – its co-efficient was 0.24 and its weight was also phenomenally low at 664kg. The 1113cc 3-cylinder engine used in the ECV 3 was unusual for being a single-cam, four-valve per cylinder design – efficient it was though: producing 70bhp at 5000rpm, with the promise of more to come. The ECV 3’s engine was somewhat similar to Spen King’s other design – the Triumph Dolomite Sprint. Many of the principles employed in the construction and design of this engine saw the light of day in the K-Series engine in 1989. Like the rest of the ECV 3, it was a featherweight, at a mere 84kg. According to journalist Richard Bremner, who worked for Austin Rover at the time, it was a very interesting experience, ‘I remember a warbling three-cylinder engine, an amazingly elastic ride (though it did roll a bit) and limited transmission shunt, the bane of many an AR car at the time. If I recall, the triple had some trick engine mounting system that enabled the powertrain to rotate in sympathy with torque reversals, quite a feat given the need to hook a gearlinkage to it.’ The car’s construction was also somewhat different to that of its contemporary rivals, but it did turn to the ideals of another of the company’s earlier designs – the Rover P6. Like that car, the ECV 3’s body involved a load-bearing ‘baseframe’, to which unstressed panels were attached. In this instance, the baseframe was made of aluminium and the panels were all plastic, contributing to the car’s low overall weight. In fact, the body-in-white weighed a mere 138kg, roughly half that of a contemporary steel monocoque.


This is the sole example of a prototype Metro Saloon which was built around 1984. Although superminis generally had hatchbacks, VW had launched the Derby, and followed it up with the Polo Classic and there was a three box version of the Opel Corsa/Vauxhall Nova, which must have attracted BL’s attention, but they did not proceed to put this car into production.

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This unassuming grey hatchback was actually designed as a replacement for the Metro. Powered by the still-in-development K-series, it was to be Britain’s answer to the Fiat Uno and Peugeot 205. Unfortunately, British Leyland wasn’t turning in any profit by this point and its majority shareholder was the Thatcher government. And while the Tories were willing to make £250m available to develop a new powerplant, it was a firm ‘no’ as far as developing a new model went. Using an aluminium body, the goal was to achieve 100mpg from AR6. Roy Axe, the design director who oversaw the project’s styling, said, ‘That car started life in our design studio as a simple mock-up of how one of our superminis could look in the future, given some decent funding. Once it had done its thing of impressing visitors to the studios, we passed it to BL Technology, who then turned it into a mobile test bed.’

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In the late 70s, it was the D-Segment that mattered more than anything else in the UK. Britain’s best seller, the Ford Cortina had in excess of 10% of the entire UK car market. BL had no serious rival, offering the Marina, and subsequent Ital, that were conceived as hasty stop-gaps in the early 70s and forced to live on long beyond their reasonable model life. After the cancellation of ADO77, a conventional four door saloon that was more like a revamped Marina than a truly modern family car, the next set of plans called for a 3 box version of the Maestro. As that car was half a class smaller than the Cortina and Cavalier, that would have been a difficult strategy, and fortunately, a change of management in the early 80s saw it as such and the LM11 car that was then being developed both grew in size, and also underwent some very late styling changes as new designer Roy Axe was somewhat aghast at what had been planned. The result was the Montego, launched in late April 1984. Aimed directly at the Sierra and Cavalier, this 3 box saloon came with the new S Series 1600cc and familiar O Series 2 litre engine in 5 trim levels, priced to take on its rivals head on. Sales projections once again were somewhat optimistic, but the Montego quickly reached the Top 10 list, and many would tell you that the car was actually “better” than its Ford or GM rivals in many respects. A capacious Estate model was added to the range in the autumn of 1984. My father bought one the following summer. He did nearly 100,000 miles in it, before it was sold and then I used to see it driving around Cheltenham, as a taxi, for several years, so I am guessing that it probably did around a quarter of a million miles. Some people had problems with their cars, but it seemed to be down to luck whether you got a bad one or not. My first company car was a 1.6L model, in Targa Red, chosen not just because of the good experience from my father’s car., but because by this time it had a standard five speed gearbox when the Ford and Vauxhall did not. I was so impressed with mine and the improvements made in 1988 when a new and very plush interior was put in the car, along with the substitution of the VW gearbox for a Honda one on the 1600cc models, that I ordered another one in early 1990. By this stage, of course, it was not fashionable to like the car at all, but the reality is that whilst not exciting, except in the MG and MG Turbo guises which I coveted but could not afford, this was a practical and roomy car. This is the very last car to be built, a 2.0 DLX Saloon, in early 1992, and it is signed by all the employees at Longbridge of the time.

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One of the oldest British cars there is, this 1897 Daimler Grafton Phaeton is the oldest surviving Coventry built Daimler car. It has only had four owners from new. The car is maintained in full running order, and used to regularly compete in the annual London to Brighton Run, held on the first Sunday in November. The Daimler Company was formed on 14 January 1896 and a factory was opened at the Motor Mills in Coventry. The company held the British licence rights to the German Daimler patents, and was therefore allowed to use the name as well. Early cars were imported from Germany or France, but production of British-built Daimlers was underway by 1897. Originally bought by a Doctor in Shropshire who reputedly used it for tours of Belgium and France, by 1906 it had passed to the second owner who kept it until 1954. The third owner was Ted Woolley who restored the car and had it registered under the appropriate mark AD 1897. His exploits with the car were legendary, and included a crossing of the Col du Cenis 7,000ft up in the Alps, on a tour from Britain to Munich and Turin. After his death in 1984, the car was bought by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. Further restoration was carried out in 1993-94, at which time the car was returned to its original blue colour. This Daimler is powered by a twocylinder four horsepower engine, and ignition is by a hot tube system. The top speed is 24mph (40 km/h), and it cost £375 when new. It was initially fitted with tiller steering, but this was converted to wheel steering by Daimler in 1899 (the patch on the bonnet covers the hole for the original column). The hood is made of elephant hide.

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This particular Daimler TP35, with its 8.5 litre four cylinder engine, was originally a Daimler works car, a sister to the one which famously set the ‘Fastest Time Of Day’ in the very first hill climb at Shelsley Walsh in 1905, driven by Ernest Instone, General Manager of Daimler. It has a works number plate DU 541. After several decades languishing at the Daimler factory, it was suggested in 1955 that Rupert Instone, Ernest’s son, should run the old Daimler at the Shelsley Walsh Jubilee meeting that autumn. It was in poor condition but it did manage the drive from Coventry to Shelsley and up the hill. After this it was tidied up and went initially to the motor museum at Beaulieu before coming to the Coventry Art Gallery and Museum (the precursor to today’s Coventry Transport Museum) in 1967. It was rebuilt during the 1970s under the supervision of Mike Bullivant and had another outing to Shelsley Walsh in 1979 where it was driven up the hill by the famous Bill Boddy, editor of MotorSport magazine from 1936 to 1991. The car was eventually acquired by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in 1997, since when it has been kept in good running order and tackled Shelsley Walsh again in 2018.


This car, a 1955 Daimler Regency Sportsman, has had a very busy life. It started life with a 3½ litre engine and after 30 years use went back to the factory for an engine overhaul. Jaguar had in stock the last Daimler Majestic 3.8 litre engine, so fitted that instead. The car was used for filming by the BBC in 1987 for the ‘Miss Marple’ episode “4.50 from Paddington” starring Joan Hickson. In 1989 it completed a John O’Groats to Lands End run with over 400,000 miles on the clock and has now completed over 600,000 miles in total and still counting. Daimler introduced a new six-cylinder 3 litre car, the Regency, at the 1951 Motor Show, but in its original form the car was unsatisfactory and hardly any were produced. After a somewhat protracted development period, by 1954 the 3 litre had become the Regency Mark II saloon with a choice of 3½ litre and 4½ litre engines, basically of the same design but with different bore sizes. As there was also a long wheelbase 4½ litre limousine, this range finally replaced the ageing DE27 and DE36 models. The Sportsman (type DF308) was built on the standard wheelbase of 9 feet 6 inches (2,896 mm), but had what was described as the ‘high-performance’ chassis, which featured fully hydraulic brakes with a vacuum servo, and an overdrive top gear. It could be fitted either with the 4½ litre engine, or with a ‘high-efficiency’ version of the 3½ litre engine. This had power increased from 107 bhp to 130 bhp, thanks to an aluminium cylinder head and a higher compression ratio of 7.6:1. The body was a four-light saloon, featuring a wrap-around rear window and small tailfins. It was designed and made by Mulliner in Birmingham, an old Daimler supplier which was about to be taken over by Standard. The car sold for £2,650, about £1,000 more than a Jaguar Mark VII saloon, which illustrates Daimler’s problems in the 1950s. Production of the Sportsman seems to have been a mere 33 3½ litre cars, and even fewer of the 4½ litre model. After only a year, the Sportsman was renamed as the four-light saloon and was offered only on the 4½-litre chassis of the One-O-Four – which was a modified Regency – and the price had risen further to £3,250. Small-scale production of these cars continued into 1958, when the 3½ litre and 4½ litre models were replaced by the new Majestic 3.8-litre model.


Ford replaced their first European car with the 7Y in 1938, which following a minor facelift became the Anglia and Prefect. Post war, the Prefect design changed little until replaced in 1952. The headlamps moved into the wings and trafficators were fitted (internally lit semaphores springing out from the door pillars to signal left and right turns), though due to space restrictions these were left out on the Australian-built Ute. Only four-door saloons were available on the home market, the two-door sector being left to the Anglia but some were made for export. The brakes remained mechanically operated using the Girling rod system with 10 in (250 mm) drums and the chassis still had transverse leaf springs front and rear. A Prefect tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1948 had a top speed of 61 mph (98 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-50 mph (80 km/h) in 22.8 seconds. A fuel consumption of 33.2 mpg was recorded. The test car which had the optional leather upholstery cost £412 including taxes. In standard form, they commented that it was the cheapest 4-door car on the British market. It was replaced by the new 100E design in 1953. 192,229 were made.


This first generation Honda Prelude was presented to Sir Michael Edwards, Chairman of BL Cars as they then were in 1979 when the agreement was struck for the joint venture which would initially produce the Triumph Acclaim and then go onto spawn a series of Rover models through the next decade.


Representing a much later phase in Honda’s history is this tenth generation Civic, a model which was built at the firm’s plant in Swindon. Sadly, it will be the last to be built there, as the next generation model will be sourced from Japan.


This is the second of the Road Rover prototypes, looking more like a sort of shortened Chevrolet Nomad. It dates from 1958 and got very close to production. Indeed, it is understood that Corgi Toys prepared a model of the car which was going to be available at the same time as the real thing. When the car was cancelled, so was the Corgi model.

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Built in 1976, this Land Rover series III 88” Station Wagon is the one millionth Land Rover produced.


Several examples of the long-lived Land Rover were here, including Series 3 models in 88 and 109 guises as well as the later 110

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Standard production forward-control Land Rovers are rare in themselves, but this is a unique prototype. It was built on a special 112-inch chassis to meet a military requirement for an all-terrain vehicle capable of carrying a 1500kg payload, but rejected by the MoD so it was converted into a recovery vehicle for use at the Solihull factory. The yellow livery gave it the nickname ‘Buttercup’ and it later served for around 20 years at the Gaydon proving ground, but is now restored and lives in the museum.


This 1958 Land Rover 88” was another Royal review vehicle for HM the Queen, called ‘State II’. This was the reserve ceremonial vehicle and only has 13,000 miles on the clock. As a royal fleet vehicle it was not registered for the road.


This 1983 Land Rover ½ ton lightweight was developed as an air portable version for the army. This one was retained by Land Rover as an engineering reference vehicle.


There plenty of examples of the original Range Rover. The Rover Company had been experimenting with a larger model than the Land Rover Series as far back as 1951, when the Rover P4-based two-wheel-drive “Road Rover” project was developed by Gordon Bashford. This was shelved in 1958, and the idea lay dormant until 1966, when engineers Spen King and Bashford set to work on a new model. In 1967, the first Range Rover prototype was built (number plate SYE 157F), with the classic Range Rover shape clearly discernible, but with a different front grille and headlight configuration. The design of the Range Rover was finalised in 1969. Twenty-six Velar engineering development vehicles were built between 1969 and 1970 and were road registered with the number plates YVB151H through to YVB177H. Though being chassis no. 3, the vehicle YVB 153H is believed to have been the first off the production line as a vehicle in that colour was urgently required for marketing. The Velar name was derived from the Italian “velare” meaning to veil or to cover. Range Rover development engineer Geoff Miller used the name as a decoy for registering pre-production Range Rovers. The Velar company was registered in London and produced 40 pre-production vehicles that were built between 1967 and 1970. Most of these Velar pre-production vehicles are accounted for and have survived into preservation, and one of them was presented here. These models fetch very strong money when sold, between £60 -80,000 for the handful that have appeared for sale in the last couple of years. The production Range Rover was launched in 1970, and it was produced until 1994, undergoing quite a transition into a luxury product en route. Early models are currently the most prized ones, and there were a number of those here, as well as some of the later ones with the longer wheelbase, and luxury trim

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Also here was the second generation “P38A” Range Rover. Twenty-five years after the introduction of the original Range Rover, the second-generation was introduced for the 1995 model year, based on the 8 inches (20 centimetres) longer chassis of the old LWB model, and with an updated version of the Rover V8 engine. There was also the option of a 2.5-litre BMW six-cylinder turbo-diesel with a Bosch injection pump. This was the first diesel injection with electronic controls in a Land Rover, before common rails were introduced. This was a result of BMW’s subsequent ownership of Rover Group and hence the Land Rover brand. The new model offered more equipment and premium trims, positioning the vehicle more strongly above the Land Rover Discovery than the old original, to meet the increased competition in the SUV marketplace. This model was the last to feature the Rover V8 and interior leather supplied by Connolly who went out of business in 2002. It was the first model to feature Satellite Navigation as an option. The car never found the same level of enthusiasm as the model it replaced.


Among the Discovery models here were one of the original cars, a Discovery Camel Trophy and the millionth example to be produced.

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More recent Land Rover products on show included examples of the third generation Range Rover and Discovery 3, the Freelander, and Evoque as well a prototype plug-in hybrid Range Rover Sport.

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The Y Series was conceived before the war. when MG had sought to supplement its popular range of ‘Midget’ sports cars with three saloons of various sizes and engine capacities. These were the “S”, “V” and “W” models, seen above and introduced in the mid 1930s. But these were large and costly machines with the SA and WA aimed at the Jaguar Saloons of the era and even the VA having an engine of 1,548 cc, so the next development was to produce another saloon, of smaller engine capacity than the “VA”. To keep costs down, the Cowley design office turned to Morris’s Ten-Four Series M saloon, which was introduced during 1938, and the smaller Eight Series E which was launched at the Earls Court Motor show the same year for componentry. The prototype “Y” Type was constructed in 1939 with an intended launch at the Earls Court Motor show, the following year. However, as a result of the hostilities the public had to wait a further eight years before production commenced. All prototypes originating from the MG Factory at Abingdon were allocated numbers prefixed by the letters EX; this practice continued until the mid-fifties. Although the prototype of the MG “Y” Type was primarily a Morris concept from Cowley, much of the ‘fleshing out’ was completed at Abingdon. As a result it was allocated the prototype number EX.166. When the car was launched, the MG Sales Literature stated “A brilliant new Member of the famous MG breed. This new One and a Quarter Litre car perpetuates the outstanding characteristics of its successful predecessors – virile acceleration, remarkable ‘road manner,’ instant response to controls, and superb braking. A ‘lively’ car, the new One and a Quarter Litre provides higher standards of performance.” The UK price of the car was £525.0.0 ex works plus purchase tax of £146.11.8d. Gerald Palmer was responsible for body styling and, in essence he took a Morris Eight Series E four-door bodyshell in pressed steel, added a swept tail and rear wings, and also a front-end MG identity in the shape of their well-known upright grille. The MG 1 1/4 Litre Saloon would retain the traditional feature of separately mounted headlights at a time when Morris was integrating headlamps into the front wing and it was also to have a separate chassis under this pressed-steel bodywork, even though the trend in the industry was towards ‘unitary construction’. The car featured an independent front suspension layout designed by Gerald Palmer and Jack Daniels (an MG draughtsman). Independent front suspension was very much the latest technology at the time and the “Y” Type became the first Nuffield product and one of the first British production cars with this feature. The separate chassis facilitated the ‘Jackall System’, which consisted of four hydraulically activated rams that were bolted to the chassis, two at the front and two at the rear. The jacks were connected to a Jackall Pump on the bulkhead that enabled the front, the back, or the entire car to be raised to facilitate a wheel change. The power unit was a single carburettor version of the 1,250 cc engine used in the latest MG-TB. This engine, the XPAG, went on to power both the MG-TC and MG-TD series. The MG Y Type saloon developed 46 bhp at 4,800 rpm, with 58.5 lb ft of torque at 2,400 rpm, the YT Tourer (with the higher lift camshaft and twin carburettors) develop 54 bhp. With the exception of only the Rover Ten, which managed 2 additional bhp, the “Y” Type had more power than other British saloons of similar size. Indeed at the time many manufacturers were still producing side valve engines. The MG “Y” Type had an extremely high standard of interior furnishing and finish, in accordance with the best British traditions. The facing surfaces of all seats were leather, as were the door pockets. The rear of the front seats were made from Rexine, a form of leathercloth, which matched the leather fronts, as were the door panels themselves. A roller blind was fitted to the rear window as an anti-glare mechanism (not a privacy screen as many think). Considerable use of wood was made in the internal trim of the “Y” Type. Door windows, front and rear screens were framed in burr walnut, the instrument panel set in bookmatched veneer offsetting the passenger side glove box. The speedometer, clock, and three-gauge cluster of oil pressure, fuel and ammeter, were set behind octagonal chrome frames, a subtle iteration of the MG badge theme later replicated in the MG TF. An open topped YT Tourer was produced but fewer than 1000 of these were made. Production of the Y Type ended in 1953, when the car was replaced by the ZA Magnette. Just 8336 were made over its 6 year life.


Launched in October 1962, the MGB was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car and these days it has to be one of the most popular classics there is. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples. Due to a high demand of the limited edition model, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of homemarket limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples of the MGB of all model types were built, and although many of these were initially sold new in North America, a lot have been repatriated here. Seen here is a roadster from the late 60s as well as one of the last cars to be built, an MGB GT LE.

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The MG Metro was launched in May 1982, to more than a few howls of protest from MG purists who decried the fact that it was not a proper sports car. It was, however, a well-considered upgrade on the more prosaic Austin models, and it proved popular from the outset. Styling touches included MG badging, liberal use of red inside – even the seat belts – and different wheel trims. Mechanically there were alterations, too. The changes between the MG engine (taken directly from the Mini Cooper) and the standard 1275 included a modified cylinder head, with larger valves and improved porting, altered cam profile and larger carburettor leading to a 20% increase in BHP to 72 bhp. At the October 1982 Birmingham Motor Show the MG Metro Turbo variant was first shown. With a quoted bhp of 93, 0–60 mph in 8.9 seconds, and top speed of 115 mph (185 km/h) this car had few direct competitors at the time, although the growing demand for “hot hatches” meant that it soon had a host of competitors including the Ford Fiesta XR2, Peugeot 205 GTI and Renault 5 GT Turbo. This model had a few addition modifications bolted on over the normally aspirated MG model to give an additional 21 bhp. Aside from the turbocharger and exhaust system itself, and what was (at the time) a relatively sophisticated boost delivery and control system, the MG Turbo variant incorporated stiffer suspension (purportedly with engineering input from Lotus), and an uprated crankshaft of nitrided steel and sodium-cooled exhaust valves. Both MG variants were given a “sporty” interior with red seat belts, red carpets and a sports-style steering wheel. The Turbo also benefitted from an LCD boost pressure gauge. The Turbo also received alloy wheels, black wheel arch extensions, blacked out trim, a rear spoiler surrounding the windshield, and prominent “TURBO” decals. While it retained rear drums, the front disc brakes were changed to ventilated units. The later MG variants were emblazoned with the MG logo both inside and out, which only served to fuel claims of badge engineering from some of the more steadfast MG enthusiasts. Others believed that this sentiment was unfounded, particularly in the case of the turbo variant, due to the undeniably increased performance and handling when compared to the non-MG models. From 1983, the MG badge also found its way onto higher performance versions of the Maestro, and shortly afterwards it was adopted for higher performance versions of the Montego. Sadly, there are relatively few survivors.


This is a development mule for the MG Metro 6R4.

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Three original design concepts were considered for the MGF: PR1, PR2 and PR3. Each investigated a different layout. PR1 was front (2.0-litre) engine, front wheel drive, built by Motor Panels. PR2, was Reliant-built front-engine (V8), rear-wheel drive. And PR3, the ADC built mid-engine (1400cc), rear-wheel drive. PR3 was the layout that would be chosen as the basis for the production car. Once the design was chosen, the next step was to test the cars and running gear. A number of engineering ‘mules’ – running test cars – were built. Perhaps the most elaborate was this Metro van, or at least that is what it looks like. With a casual glance one might easily be forgiven for thinking it was an everyday, well-used courier’s delivery van. On closer inspection, however, wide wheels and non-standard wheelarches indicate it is no ordinary van. Lift up the whole rear section and underneath you find the mechanics of the mid-engined MGF. The van was able to run on the road and test many MGF miles without being given a second look.


And this is the PR3 in a style which looks bot unlike a TVR.


There were numerous examples of the Mini here, including this cut-away version.


This the last example of the original Mini Cooper S. Issigonis’ friend John Cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company and designer and builder of Formula One cars, saw the potential of the Mini for competition. Issigonis was initially reluctant to see the Mini in the role of a performance car, but after John Cooper appealed to BMC management, the two men collaborated to create the Mini Cooper. The Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper debuted in September 1961. The 848 cc engine from the Morris Mini-Minor was given a longer stroke to increase capacity to 997 cc increasing power from 34 to 55 bhp. The car featured a race-tuned engine, twin SU carburettors, a closer-ratio gearbox and front disc brakes, uncommon at the time in a small car. One thousand units of this version were commissioned by management, intended for and designed to meet the homologation rules of Group 2 rally racing. The 997 cc engine was replaced by a shorter stroke 998 cc unit in 1964. In 1962, Rhodesian John Love became the first non-British racing driver to win the British Saloon Car Championship driving a Mini Cooper. A more powerful Mini Cooper, dubbed the “S”, was developed in tandem and released in 1963. Featuring a 1071 cc engine with a 70.61 mm bore and nitrided steel crankshaft and strengthened bottom end to allow further tuning; and larger servo-assisted disc brakes, 4,030 Cooper S cars were produced and sold until the model was updated in August 1964. Cooper also produced two S models specifically for circuit racing in the under 1,000 cc and under 1,300 cc classes respectively, rated at 970 cc and a 1,275 cc both had a 70.61 mm bore and both were also offered to the public. The smaller-engine model was not well received, and only 963 had been built when the model was discontinued in 1965. The 1,275 cc Cooper S models continued in production until 1971. Sales of the Mini Cooper were: 64,000 Mark I Coopers with 997 cc or 998 cc engines; 19,000 Mark I Cooper S with 970 cc, 1,071 cc or 1,275 cc engines; 16,000 Mark II Coopers with 998 cc engines; 6,300 Mark II Cooper S with 1,275 cc engines. There were no Mark III Coopers and 1,570 Mark III Cooper S.


There was also an example of the Moke here. Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and John Sheppard, the Mini Moke is noted for its simple, straightforward, doorless design, and its adaptability. Originally prototyped as a lightweight military vehicle using the engine, transmission and suspension parts from the Mini van, the design’s small wheels and low ground clearance made it unsuitable as an off road military vehicle. The design was subsequently offered in civilian form as a low-cost, easily maintained vehicle, achieving global popularity as a lightweight, recreational and utility vehicle. The first Mokes were manufactured at BMC’s Longbridge, Birmingham plant, with 14,518 produced in the UK between 1964 and 1968. 26,000 were manufactured in Australia between 1966 and 1981, and 10,000 in Portugal between 1980 and 1993 when production ended.


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The Mini 9X was designed and developed by Sir Alec Issigonis to follow on from the Mini and 1100 as the next generation of small car. Issigonis’ objective was to reduce manufacturing and maintenance costs without sacrificing passenger space of performance. In conjunction with the 9X Issigonis began developing a gear less concept, he dubbed Citycar. Four prototype gearless cars followed the first NOB 529 F in 1968 was powered by a modified 1375cc A series engine and had no reverse gear, the other three (SOL 258H, LOK 576P and GNP 677S) were fitted with his experimental ‘9X’ engine, GNP was later converted back to a conventional transmission. Issigonis insisted these were not Automatics, they had no clutch, gearbox or any other form of variable transmission simply forward or reverse drive were taken through a torque converter The engine was tuned and increased in capacity to give sufficient performance over a wide rev-band. He listed among the benefits, smoother drive, improved fuel economy easy servicing since there were fewer parts to break; and more interior space. though apparently difficult below 20mph. As part of its development front end proportions were reshaped for efficient installations of a more compact ‘9X’ engine. All three ‘ADO20’ Minis featured the revised vertical strut suspensions requiring the spare wheel to be mounted under the boot in a cradle while the battery was moved to sit under the bonnet. To minimise weight, aluminium body panels such as those used on competition versions of the Mini were fitted.


The ERA Mini Turbo is a modified Mini city car that was produced by Engineering Research & Application Ltd. under the ERA brand name from 1989 to 1991 at Dunstable in Bedfordshire, England. The fastest-ever version of the original Mini to be sold through official dealers, it has been described as “the spiritual successor to the Cooper and the 1275 GT”. To create the car, ERA installed a turbocharged Austin Rover A-Series 1300 MG Metro engine, which produces 94 bhp at 6200 rpm and gave the car a claimed top speed of 115 mph (185 km/h), in a standard Mini and modified the body, suspension, brakes, water and oil cooling systems, and interior. The body kit was styled by Dennis Adams, who also designed the Marcos sports cars and the Probe 16 (the car used in ‘A Clockwork Orange’). The car, which uses mostly Austin Rover components, was marketed through Austin Rover dealers. The interior has MG Metro front seats trimmed in Connolly Leather hide, VDO instruments in an ERA-designed dash panel, pile carpeting, and a sunroof. Torque steer, common in a front-wheel drive layout, is mitigated by greater front-wheel toe-out and specially-made lower front suspension arms that provide 1.5 degrees of negative camber. The 6″ x 13″ aluminium alloy wheels are intended for either Goodyear or Dunlop 165/60HR13 low-profile tyres. The servo-assisted braking system has Metro ventilated discs and four-pot calipers at the front, with modified drums at the rear. The car has adjustable shock absorbers all round, and the ride height is lowered. A total of 436 ERA Mini Turbos were produced.


The Mini was the model that refused to die, with sales continuing after the launch of the Metro in 1980, and gathering momentum again in the 1990s, thanks in no small part to interest from Japan and because Rover Group decided to produce some more Cooper models. The first series of Cooper cars had been discontinued in 1971, replaced by the cheaper to build 1275GT, but when a limited edition model was produced in 1990, complete with full endorsement from John Cooper, the model was a sell out almost overnight, which prompted the decision to make it a permanent addition to the range. A number of refinements were made during the 90s, with fuel injection adding more power, a front mounted radiator and more sound deadening making the car quieter and new seats adding more comfort and a new dash making the car look less spartan inside.

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This is a 1992 Mini Cord with a glass-fibre plastic bodied car built in Venezuela by Fabrica de Motores y Carrocerias Cordillera. This is the first Mini from the Venezuelan line to be imported into the UK.


This Customized Convertible was registered in 1978 and it has a 1.6 Litre (1598cc) Ford Kent Straight 4 engine propelling it along which runs on Petrol. This Mark IV is a very early car and it was made 2 years after the start of production. This Mini was customised by the late Roy Harrodine and there are loads of changes. It is 30cm longer, it has a changed engine out of Fords parts, most of the transmission is Ford and there are many other changes. The car was kindly donated by Barbara Harrodine at the bequest of her husband, Roy.


Further development continued throughout the 1990s, with this being an example, the “Minki”, dating from 1995 with an increased track and a K series engine.


Also here is an example of the new MINI.


This 1924 Morris T type 1-ton truck is the first Morris truck produced and the first off the line.


The Minor was conceived in 1941. Although the Nuffield Organization was heavily involved in war work and there was a governmental ban on civilian car production, Morris Motors’ vice chairman, Miles Thomas, wanted to prepare the ground for new products to be launched as soon as the war was over. Vic Oak, the company’s chief engineer, had already brought to Thomas’ attention a promising junior engineer, Alec Issigonis, who had been employed at Morris since 1935 and specialised in suspension design but he had frequently impressed Oak with his advanced ideas about car design in general. Issigonis had come to Oak’s particular attention with his work on the new Morris Ten, which was in development during 1936/7. This was the first Morris to use unitary construction and was conceived with independent front suspension. Issigonis designed a coil-sprung wishbone system which was later dropped on cost grounds. Although the design would later be used on the MG Y-type and many other post-war MGs the Morris Ten entered production with a front beam axle. Despite his brief being to focus on the Ten’s suspension Issigonis had also drawn up a rack and pinion steering system for the car. Like his suspension design this was not adopted but would resurface in the post-war years on the MG Y-type, but these ideas proved that he was the perfect candidate to lead the design work on a new advanced small car. With virtually all resources required for the war effort, Thomas nonetheless approved the development of a new small family car that would replace the Morris Eight. Although Oak (and Morris’ technical director, Sidney Smith) were in overall charge of the project it was Issigonis who was ultimately responsible for the design, working with only two other draughtsmen. Thomas named the project ‘Mosquito’ and ensured that it remained as secret as possible, both from the Ministry of Supply and from company founder William Morris (now Lord Nuffield), who was still chairman of Morris Motors and, it was widely expected, would not look favourably on Issigonis’ radical ideas. Issigonis’ overall concept was to produce a practical, economical and affordable car for the general public that would equal, if not surpass, the convenience and design quality of a more expensive car. In later years he summed up his approach to the Minor; that he wanted to design an economy car that “the average man would take pleasure in owning, rather than feeling of it as something he’d been sentenced to” and “people who drive small cars are the same size as those who drive large cars and they should not be expected to put up with claustrophobic interiors.” Issigonis wanted the car to be as spacious as possible for its size and comfortable to drive for inexperienced motorists. Just as he would with the Mini ten years later, he designed the Mosquito with excellent roadholding and accurate, quick steering not with any pretence of making a sports car, but to make it safe and easy to drive by all. As work proceeded, there were plenty of battle to overcome, to get Issigonis’ ideas approved, and not all of them were. The production car, called the Minor was launched at the British Motor Show at Earls Court in London on October 27, 1948. At the same show Morris also launched the new Morris Oxford and Morris Six models, plus Wolseley variants of both cars, which were scaled-up versions of the new Minor, incorporating all the same features and designed with Issigonis’ input under Vic Oak’s supervision. Thus Issigonis’ ideas and design principles underpinned the complete post-war Morris and Wolseley car ranges. The original Minor MM series was produced from 1948 until 1953. It included a pair of four-seat saloons, two-door and (from 1950) a four-door, and a convertible four-seat Tourer. The front torsion bar suspension was shared with the larger Morris Oxford MO, as was the almost-unibody construction. Although the Minor was originally designed to accept a flat-4 engine, late in the development stage it was replaced by a 918 cc side-valve inline-four engine, little changed from that fitted in the 1935 Morris 8, and producing 27.5 hp and 39 lbf·ft of torque. This little engine pushed the Minor to just 64 mph but delivered 40 mpg. Brakes were four-wheel drums. Early cars had a painted section in the centre of the bumpers to cover the widening of the production car from the prototypes. This widening of 4 inches is also visible in the creases in the bonnet. Exports to the United States began in 1949 with the headlamps removed from within the grille surround to be mounted higher on the wings to meet local safety requirements. In 1950 a four-door version was released, initially available only for export, and featuring from the start the headlamps faired into the wings rather than set lower down on either side of the grille. The raised headlight position became standard on all Minors in time for 1951. From the start, the Minor had semaphore-type turn indicators, and subsequent Minor versions persisted with these until 1961 An Autocar magazine road test in 1950 reported that these were “not of the usual self-cancelling type, but incorporate[d] a time-basis return mechanism in a switch below the facia, in front of the driver”. It was all too easy for a passenger hurriedly emerging from the front passenger seat to collide with and snap off a tardy indicator “flipper” that was still sticking out of the B-pillar, having not yet been safely returned by the time-basis return mechanism to its folded position. Another innovation towards the end of 1950 was a water pump (replacing a gravity dependent system), which permitted the manufacturer to offer an interior heater “as optional equipment”. When production of the first series ended, just over a quarter of a million had been sold, 30 per cent of them the convertible Tourer model. In 1952, the Minor line was updated with an Austin-designed 803 cc overhead valve A-series engine, replacing the original side-valve unit. The engine had been designed for the Minor’s main competition, the Austin A30, but became available as Austin and Morris were merged into the British Motor Corporation. The new engine felt stronger, though all measurements were smaller than the old. The 52 second drive to 60 mph was still calm, with 63 mph as the top speed. Fuel consumption also rose to 36 mpg. An estate version was introduced in 1952, known as the Traveller (a Morris naming tradition for estates, also seen on the Mini). The Traveller featured an external structural ash (wood) frame for the rear bodywork, with two side-hinged rear doors. The frame was varnished rather than painted and a highly visible feature of the body style. Commercial models, marketed as the Morris Quarter Ton Van and Pick-up were added in May 1953. Rear bodies of the van versions were all steel. The 4-seat convertible and saloon variants continued as well. The car was again updated in 1956 when the engine was increased in capacity to 948 cc. The two-piece split windscreen was replaced with a curved one-piece one and the rear window was enlarged. In 1961 the semaphore-style trafficators were replaced by the flashing direction indicators, these were US-style red at the rear (using the same bulb filament as the brake lamp) and white at the front (using a second brighter filament in the parking lamp bulb) which was legal in the UK and many export markets at the time (such as New Zealand). An upmarket car based on the Minor floorpan using the larger BMC B-Series engine was sold as the Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 beginning in 1957: versions of this Wolseley/Riley variant were also produced by BMC Australia as the Morris Major and the Austin Lancer. In December 1960 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units. To commemorate the achievement, a limited edition of 350 two-door Minor saloons (one for each UK Morris dealership) was produced with distinctive lilac paintwork and a white interior. Also the badge name on the side of the bonnet was modified to read “Minor 1,000,000” instead of the standard “Minor 1000”. The millionth Minor was donated to the National Union of Journalists, who planned to use it as a prize in a competition in aid of the union’s Widow and Orphan Fund. The company, at the same time, presented a celebratory Minor to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, but this car was constructed of cake.The final major upgrades to the Minor were made in 1962. Although the name Minor 1000 was retained, the changes were sufficient for the new model to be given its own ADO development number. A larger version of the existing A-Series engine had been developed in conjunction with cylinder head specialist Harry Weslake for the then new ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 range. This new engine used a taller block than did the 948 cc unit, with increased bore and stroke bringing total capacity up to 1,098 cc. Although fuel consumption suffered moderately at 38 mpg, the Minor’s top speed increased to 77 mph with noticeable improvements in low-end torque, giving an altogether more responsive drive. Other changes included a modified dashboard layout with toggle switches, textured steel instrument binnacle, and larger convex glove box covers. A different heater completed the interior upgrade, whilst the larger combined front side/indicator light units, common to many BMC vehicles of the time, were fitted to the front wings. These now included a separate bulb and amber lens for indicators while larger tail lamp units also included amber rear flashers. During the life of the Minor 1000 model, production declined. The last Convertible/Tourer was manufactured on 18 August 1969, and the saloon models were discontinued the following year. Production of the more practical Traveller and commercial versions ceased in 1972, although examples of all models were still theoretically available from dealers with a surplus of unsold cars for a short time afterwards. 1,619,857 Minors of all variants were ultimately sold and to be seen here were a Minor Traveller, a Tourer and a Van in once familiar Post Office Telephones livery.

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After the Second World War the 13.5 fiscal horsepower Oxford MO had to replace the Ten horsepower series M, Morris’s Twelve and Morris’s Fourteen. It was announced along with the new 918cc Morris Minor and the 2.2-litre Morris Six MS on 26 October 1948 and was produced until 1954. The core design was shared with Nuffield Organisation stable-mate Wolseley 4/50 which used a traditional grille and better finishes. Designed by Alec Issigonis, the Oxford, along with the Minor, introduced unit construction techniques such as Unibody construction even though it is not widely recognised as a true unibody car. Torsion bar front suspension was another novelty and hydraulically operated 8-inch drum brakes were fitted all around. Under the bonnet, the MO was a step back in technology from the pre-war Ten. It used a side-valve straight-4 rather than the older overhead-valve unit. The single SU-carburetted engine displaced 1476 cc and with its output of 40.5 bhp at 4200 rpm could propel the car to 72 mph. In order to reduce noise, the crankshaft helical gear that drove the camshaft was steel and the camshaft gear was of resin-bonded fibre construction, rather than a steel-to-steel coupling. It was believed, surprisingly, that the steel gear wore out first over time. Replacement parts were sold as factory-matched pairs of wheels. The four-speed gearbox had a column gear change and steering was by rack and pinion. Interior fittings were reasonably comprehensive by the standards of the time, with a full width shelf under the dashboard and “useful pivoting ventilator panels” (hinged quarterlights) at the front edge of each of the front doors and a rear window blind included in the price. Instrumentation included an oil pressure gauge, an ammeter and an electric clock. Also available, albeit at extra cost, was a heater. A two-door estate version of the Series MO was introduced in September 1952. Marketed as the Oxford Traveller, it had an exposed wooden frame at the rear. Just 3½ inches longer than the saloon which its dimensions otherwise matched the Traveller was given bench seats front and back, the front backrest split for access to the back. Six could be seated in reasonable comfort, though the back squab was narrowed by the rear wheel arches, and furthermore there was a large platform behind for luggage or freight. Folding forward the rear seat made an area nearly five feet square and three feet high. The front part of the car remained the same as the saloon and no comfort was sacrificed by front seat passengers. Normal winding windows were retained in front but the side windows at the rear (which provided excellent vision for the driver) could slide horizontally, the first for more than two feet and the second only a short distance to give ventilation. The vague steering column gear change lever still showed no improvement over previous Oxfords.


The ADO17, launched initially as the Austin 1800, in October 1964, was the third of a trio of cars masterminded by Issigonis which espoused his basic beliefs of space efficiency no undue fripperies. He often said that it was the car of which he was most proud. The market took a different view. One problem was that it was half a class larger than the most obvious rivals, such as the Ford Cortina and Vauxhall Victor, which meant that instead of replacing the Austin Cambridge, as originally intended, it ended up supplementing it in the range. Undeniably spacious, within a very compact footprint, the car was also rather basic looking inside, with a thin ribbon speedo set in a very narrow strip of dashboard, with a full width parcel shelf underneath (with an awkward umbrella handbrake sprouting somewhere to the left of the column. A Morris version, identical bar the badging arrived two years later. In 1968, a Mark 2 model was launched with revised styling front and back, a new dash panel and the option of a twin carb 1798 cc engine from the MGB in an S version. This was a few months after a more luxurious Wolseley 18/85 had been added to the range. The Mark 3 came out in Spring 1972, and as well as further set of cosmetic changes, the newly created 6 cylinder version of the E series engine was offered in the 2200 model. Seen here was a mark 2 Morris 1800S.

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The success of Ford’s Cortina did not pass unnoticed, and by 1968, when British Leyland was formed as a merger of BMC and British Motor Holdings and the new management realised that apart from the soon to be launched Maxi, there were no new models under development, it was decided to give priority to a mid-sized car that would replace the elderly Minor and Farina saloons and take the Ford head on in the quest for sales. Conceived,. designed and put into production in record quick time, of just 18 months, the Marina was launched in the spring of 1971. An utterly conventional car, with rear wheel drive, and simple proven mechanicals using the familiar A and B Series engines, the model was launched as a 2 door Coupe and 4 door Saloon. Unusually, the Coupe was cheaper than the Saloon, which should have given the Morris something of an advantage over the Dagenham rival, who charged quite a premium for a Capri over a Cortina. However, the Marina had one attribute which completely eluded the Ford, certainly in its more powerful guises: terminal understeer. It is understood that when the British press got the chance to drive the car some while before launch, they all complained bitterly about this and the dire consequences that could follow, but BL management assured them that this would be fixed for the production cars. It was not, and a usually loyal press struggled to contain their disappointment in what they wrote in early Road Tests. About 30,000 cars were built like this before a revised suspension design was deployed and gradually the early cars were tamed somewhat. This weakness not withstanding, the Marina quickly picked up sales, and although it hardly ever outsold the Cortina in any given month, it became a strong performer in the UK Sales Charts, all the more so when an Estate model was added to the range in the autumn of 1972. The Marina was only intended to have a short life, very much like contemporary Ford products which were replaced every 4 or so years, but by the mid 1970s, BL had run out of money and had to be rescued by the British Government. That meant that there were no funds for an all new car, so the proposed ADO77 replacement model was cancelled, and the Marina was simply facelifted in the autumn of 1975 to create the Series 2, with revised suspension, new seats, a new dash to create more room for the front passenger, and upgraded equipment levels and then updated again in the autumn of 1978 when the new 1700cc O Series engines were ready to replace the venerable B series unit. As the 70s went on, the Marina’s limitations in the face of more modern competition not just from Ford, but Vauxhall’s Cavalier, the Car of the Year winning hatchback Chrysler’s Alpine, a whole slew of Japanese rivals such as the Datsun Bluebird and Toyota Carina as well as the Renault R12 and VW Passat made life ever more difficult for the car, and it was only significant fleet sales from a sector which still largely held a “Buy British” policy and something of a fear of the costs of front wheel drive cars which kept the car earning money for its maker, and meant that when the model was replaced by the Ital in mid 1980, over 800,000 had been made. Since then, of course, the Marina has become the butt of many a joke, and famously has been destroyed several times by Top Gear. However, there are fans of the car, and a few hundred have still survived. This is a Marina 1.3 DL.

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The Ital was given the design code ADO73 F/L (as internally it was considered a facelift of the Series 2 Marina (ADO73) launched in 1976) and was first launched on 1 July 1980. It took its name from Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Italdesign studio, who had been employed by BL to manage the reengineering of the Morris Marina, a car which had been produced by the company since 1971. BL’s advertising emphasised the car’s connection with the Italian design house, which had not had a direct role in the styling of the new car, which had been handled in-house by Harris Mann. Italdesign had been involved in a consultancy role to help design new tooling and assembly methods and work out how to integrate the altered parts of the new car into the existing Marina production chain. This is why, despite bearing the studio’s name, the Ital is absent from lists of the styling jobs handled by the firm. It was originally planned to brand the car as the Morris Marina Ital, but for most markets the Marina name was dropped on the orders of Michael Edwardes and only the Ital name was used. The Ital had revised exterior styling, but retained the Marina’s 1.3 and 1.7 litre petrol engines and rear-wheel drive chassis. The dashboard and interior of the Marina were also carried over largely unaltered, including the main fascia panel which faced ‘away’ from the driver. The Marina’s coupé variant was not produced in Ital form, but the four door saloon, five door estate and pick up and van versions were carried over from the Marina range. From October 1980, an automatic version of the Ital was available with the 2.0 litre O-Series power unit, as the range topping 2.0HLS. Only about 1,000 2.0HLS models were sold so due to this and their short production run, the 2.0HLS is now the rarest Ital model. In November 1981 all HL and HLS models were fitted with upgraded interior trim. Finally, in September 1982, a revised Ital range was introduced. The L and 2.0 litre models were dropped and the HL and HLS were replaced by the SL and SLX models. Front suspension was changed to telescopic front dampers across the range and parabolic rear springs were also fitted, together with additional soundproofing and improved trim. Thus cropped, the range now consisted of the 1.3 SL and SLX saloon, 1.3 SL estate, 1.7 SLX saloon, and the 1.7 SL saloon and estate. The saloon models were dropped in February 1984, with the estate models remaining in production until the summer of that year. This is the very last car with the Morris badging to have been made

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The Reliant SS1 was a brave effort, but which never delivered on the potential of the concept. When word leaked out in the early 1980s, that Reliant was developing a small two seater sports car, everyone got rather excited. But the result was something of a disappointment, with rather gawky lines penned and not that much driving fun thanks to the (cheap to acquire) Ford CVH engines under the bonnet. Whilst the upgrade to the 1800cc turbo Nissan engine addressed the relative lack of go, the real problem was that a low volume manufacturer could not compete against one of the automotive giants and one of these, Toyota, launched a mid-engined rival even before the Reliant could establish itself in the market. Although production soldiered on for 10 years, rather than building 2000 cars a year, as the Tamworth maker had planned, only around this number were made in a 10 year period.

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The 1907 Riley 9hp V-twin was Riley’s first production car, produced between 1905 and 1910.


The Riley RM Series was the last model developed independently by Riley. RM vehicles were produced from 1945, after the Second World War, until the 1952 merger of Riley’s parent company, the Nuffield Organisation with Austin to form BMC. They were originally made in Coventry, but in 1949 production moved to the MG works at Abingdon. The RM models were marketed as the Riley 1½ Litre and the Riley 2½ Litre. There were three types of RM vehicles produced: the RMA was a large saloon, and was replaced by the updated RME, both of which had the 1.5 litre engine; the RMB was an even larger car, and was replaced by the RMF, and these cars had the 2.5 litre engine; the RMC and RMD were open topped cars produced in limited numbers, intended largely for the all important export markets, with about 500 of each being made. These were nicely produced quality cars and considered quite sporting in their day, with the sort of appeal that many years later would be inherent in a BMW. Ironically, of course, BMW now own the rights to the Riley brand.


The Elf was one of a pair of Mini based models which BMC launched in 1961, the other being the Wolseley Hornet. Both had longer, slightly finned rear wings and larger boots that gave the cars a more traditional three-box design. Wheelbase of the Elf and Hornet remained at 2.036 m (6.68 ft), whereas the overall length was increased to 3.27 m (10.7 ft). This resulted in a dry weight of 638 kg for the Elf and 618 kg for the Hornet. Front-end treatment, which incorporated each marque’s traditional upright grille design (the Hornet’s grille with a lit “Wolseley” badge), also contributed to a less utilitarian appearance. The cars had larger-diameter chrome hubcaps than the Austin and Morris Minis, and additional chrome accents, bumper overriders and wood-veneer dashboards. The Riley was the more expensive of the two cars. The name “Wolseley Hornet” was first used on 1930s saloon, coupé, sports and racing cars, while the name “Elf” recalled the Riley Sprite and Imp sports cars, also of the 1930s (Riley’s first choice of name “Imp” could not be used as Hillman had registered it). The full-width dashboard was a differentiator between the Elf and Hornet. This dashboard was the idea of Christopher Milner the Sales Manager for Riley. Both the Riley Elf’s and Wolseley Hornet’s bodies were built at Fisher & Ludlow under their “Fisholow” brandname. Plates in the engine compartment on the right side fitch plate bear evidence of this speciality. Very early Mark I versions of both cars had no overriders on the bumpers and a single piece front wing (A-panel and wing in one piece, no outside seam below scuttle panel) that was soon given up again, allegedly due to cost. The Elf’s and Hornet’s special bumper overriders first appeared in 1962. Early production Mark I’s also had a combination of leather and cloth seats whereas all later models had full leather seats. Mark I models were equipped with single leading shoe brakes on the front. Both the Elf and the Hornet went through three engine versions. Initially, they used the 848 cc 34 bhp engine with a single HS2 carburettor, changing to a single HS2 carburettor 38 bhp version of the Cooper’s 998 cc power unit in the Mark II in 1963. This increased the car’s top speed from 71 to 77 mph . Therefore, Mark II cars also came with increased braking power in the form of front drum brakes with twin leading shoes to cope with the increased power output. Both Mark I and Mark II featured four-speed gearboxes (three synchromesh gears) with rod gear change, a.k.a. “magic wand” type. Automatic gearboxes became available on the Mark II in 1965 as an option. The Mark III facelift of 1966 brought wind-up windows and fresh-air fascia vents. Concealed door hinges were introduced two years before these were seen on the mainstream Mini. The gear selecting mechanism was updated to the rod type, as seen on all later Mini type cars. Automatic gearboxes were available to the Mark III in 1967 again. Full-four synchromesh gearing was eventually introduced during 1968. 30,912 Riley Elfs and 28,455 Wolseley Hornets were built. Production of both models ceased in late 1969.

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This 1912 Rover 12hp landaulette was once owned by Lord Catto, governor of the Bank of England. Almost 6,000 were sold up the First World War. It continued in production into the 20’s renamed as the 14. This one featured in the 2004 film adaptation ‘The Phantom of the Opera’.


This Rover Light Six was registered in 1929 and it has a 2.0 Litre (2023cc) Straight 6 engine propelling it along which runs on Petrol. The light six was only in production for a year but still approximately 8000 were made. In January 1930, the Rover name was publicised by a race between a Rover and “Le train bleu” on the train’s 750-mile (1,210 km) run between Calais and Cannes. The idea of racing the Blue Train was popular with motor enthusiasts, and each new attempt was received with varying expectations of success. Many had already failed this challenge. Former motorcycle tester and pioneer publicist Dudley Noble had the idea to promote the new Rover Light Six by racing it against the Blue Train across France from St. Raphael on the Côte d’Azur to Calais. Noble knew that the average speed of the Blue Train, once all its stops and detours were taken into account, was no more than about 40 mph (64 km/h). To beat the train, Noble had to drive more or less non-stop from St. Raphael to Calais. The Rover Light Six averaged 38 mph (61 km/h) on its 750 miles (1,210 km) journey to beat the train’s expected time of just over 20 hours, which gave the Rover team a 20-minute lead over the train. The Blue Train had been beaten for the first time and the Rover team became celebrities through the Daily Express.

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The Rover Meteor was a short-lived 2½-litre or 2-litre medium-sized car made by The Rover Company Limited of Meteor Works Coventry. The new 2½-litre model was announced in mid-February 1930 to supplement Rover’s Light Twenty which used the same engine and essentially the same chassis. A 2-litre car, a further variant of Rover’s Light Twenty was announced in July 1932. Under fiscal rating it was a 16-horsepower car and it was renamed Rover Speed Sixteen in mid-1934 but under either name was out of production before April 1935. The first Meteor was announced a few months into the depression. It is difficult to establish whether models remained in the catalogue from continuing production or they were unsold stock. However it should be remembered it was in this period Rover returned to profit. The name Meteor was abandoned during 1934, the products remaining in Rover’s catalogue as Rover Sixteen (a four-door saloon) and Rover Speed Twenty (a four-seater sports tourer), and in due course they were replaced in the summer of 1936 by the new designs now referred to as P2. The Meteor was a more luxurious, better equipped version of the Light Twenty and considerably more expensive. The two-door sportsman’s Weymann saloon was a comfortable 4-seater and two-thirds of the roof could be folded back. The safety glass windscreen could be opened to avoid turbulence and allow an unobstructed view in poor weather. Instruments included a fuel gauge and water temperature gauge. A cupboard was fitted either side of the instruments. There was a scuttle ventilator, two interior lights and ashtrays for all seats. Rear passengers were given an arm roll either side. The doors were very wide and the front seats could slide and had hinged backrests. A small part of the front section of the window in each door could be wound down out of sight with a quick action handle. There were tools under the front cushions and a spare wheel and tyre in a well on the left hand side front mudguard A coachbuilt saloon was also available and a seven-seated coachbuilt limousine de luxe. A range of specialised bodies by leading coach builders remained available. For 1932 new lines were added to the coachwork. In mid-1932 the new models for 1933 displayed new sound proofing and insulation giving quietness that became a Rover hallmark. These cars also received what also became a Rover hallmark, a combined oil level and petrol gauge. Large headlamps were now supplied which employed a dip and switch device. The engine ran in four main bearings and had a Lanchester vibration damper at its front end as employed by USA’s Hudson and Studebaker and Vauxhall’s 23-60. Improvements for 1932 were: a crankcase breather to prevent fumes entering the car, a new silencer, modified springs and shock absorbers, larger wheels. and Bohnalite alloy pistons. A supplementary 2-litre version was announced 21 July 1932 it used the 2023 cc 6-cylinder overhead-valve engine of the Rover Light Six in the same body. This is a 1930 Meteor Sedanca Coupe with a body by Corsica.


This is a 1936 Rover Speed 14 ‘Streamline’. Under the direction of the Wilkes brothers, Spencer and Maurice, the Rover company was one of the leading independent car manufacturers in Britain by 1939. The backbone of the Rover range was a series of three models introduced for the 1934 season – the 10hp and 12hp models which had a newly designed four-cylinder engine, and the 14hp model which inherited its six-cylinder engine from the Rover ‘Pilot’. Throughout the 1930s, most Rover cars had restrained but elegant styling, well suited to the requirements of professional upper-middle class people who bought most of Rover’s products. At times, however, even Rover would bow to fashion as they did during 1935-36 when they offered fastback ‘Streamline Saloon’ and ‘Streamline Coupé’ aluminium bodies on the 14 and Speed 14 chassis. The vehicle on show is the latter model, which featured a tuned three-carburettor engine.


In February 1948, Rover announced two new models, the Sixty and the Seventy-Five. Known as the P3 series, these were respectively 1.6 and 2.0-litre executive cars which would be produced until late 1949 when they were superceded by the completely different P4 models. They included a new engine that had been in preparation since the late 1930s with overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. It was made in two versions for the car, the Rover 60 had a four-cylinder unit of 1595 cc and the Rover 75 had a six-cylinder version of 2103 cc. The gearbox and traditional Rover freewheel were kept unchanged from the previous model. To go with the engine a new car was prepared. Although the body was similar in styling to the pre war P2 Rover 12 and 16, many of the body panels were in fact new but the wings and bonnet from the 12 were carried over. The car was 0.5 inch wider outside than the 16 but by making better use of space this translated to 2.5 inches inside. It was 4.5 inches shorter in the wheelbase. Also new, and a first for a Rover, was independent front suspension but the brakes remained a hydraulic/mechanical hybrid system. Rather than having a complete chassis, the new frame, which was a box section, was stopped short of the rear axle and the rear semi-elliptic springs were attached to the body. This allowed the rear axle travel to be increased and an improved ride resulted. Two body styles were available, a 6-light saloon and 4-light sports saloon. The 6-light saloon had a rear quarter window (sometimes referred to a 6-window saloon) while the 4-light sports saloon had the lack of the rear quarter window (sometimes referred to a 4-window saloon). The cars were expensive at £1080 for the Rover 60 and £1106 for the Rover 75, and with early post-war production problems and material shortages it was never intended that the cars would be produced in large numbers. Eventually, 1274 of the 60 and 7837 of the 75 models were made before the car was replaced by the all-new Rover P4 model 75. The car seen here is a 75.


Beloved of Government Ministers, who kept the car in service long after production had ceased in 1973, thanks to an amount of stock-piling, and now a much loved classic, the P5 is a quintessentially British motor car. Launched in late 1958, it was a partial replacement for the then 10 year old P4 model, but also an extension of the Rover range further upmarket. Early cars were known as the 3 litre, as they had It was powered by a 2,995 cc straight-6 engine which used an overhead intake valve and side exhaust valve, an unusual arrangement inherited from the Rover P4. In this form, output of 115 bhp was claimed. An automatic transmission, overdrive on the manual, and Burman power steering were optional with overdrive becoming standard from May 1960. Stopping power came originally from a Girling brake system that employed 11″drums all round,but this was a heavy car and by the time of the London Motor Show in October 1959 Girling front-wheel power discs brakes had appeared on the front wheels. The suspension was independent at the front using wishbones and torsion bars and at the rear had a live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs. A Mark I-A line, introduced in September 1961, featured a minor restyle with added front quarter windows, intended to “assist the dashboard ventilation”. Under the skin, the 1A featured modifications to the engine mountings and the automatic transmission and hydrosteer variable ratio power steering as an option. By 1962, when production of the original Mark I series ended, 20,963 had been produced. The Mark II version was introduced in 1962. It featured more power,129 hp, from the same 3 litre engine and an improved suspension, while dropping the glass wind deflectors from the top of the window openings which also, on the front doors, now featured “quarterlight” windows. The most notable addition to the range was the option of the Coupé body style launched in autumn 1962. Unlike most coupés, which tend to be two-door versions of four-door saloons, this retained the four doors and was of the same width and length as the saloon, but featured a roofline lowered by two and a half inches along with thinner b-pillars, giving it the look of a hardtop. Hydrosteer was standard on the Coupe and optional on the Saloon. Production of the Mark II ended in 1965, by which time 5,482 coupés and 15,676 saloons had been produced. The Mark III was presented at the London Motor Show in October 1965, described at the time as “even more luxuriously trimmed and furnished”. It was again available in two 4-door body styles, coupé and saloon. The Mark III used the same engine as its predecessor, but it now produced 134 hp. Externally it could be distinguished by the full-length trim strip along the body and Mark III badging; internally it replaced the rear bench seat with two individually moulded rear seats, making it more comfortable to ride in for four occupants but less so for five. A total of 3,919 saloons and 2,501 coupés had been sold by the time production ended in 1967. The final iteration of the P5 appeared in September 1967. Now powered by the 3,528 cc Rover V8 engine also used in the P6 model 3500, the car was badged as the “3.5 Litre”, and commonly known as the 3½ Litre. The final letter in the “P5B” model name came from Buick, the engine’s originator. Rover did not have the budget or time to develop such engines, hence they chose to redevelop the lightweight aluminium concept Buick could not make successful. They made it considerably stronger, which added some weight but still maintained the engine’s light and compact features. The Borg Warner Type-35 automatic transmission, hydrosteer variable ratio power steering and front Lucas fog lights were now standard. Output of 160 bhp was claimed along with improved torque. When compared to its predecessor, the aluminium engine enabled the car to offer improved performance and fuel economy resulting both from the greater power and the lesser weight of the power unit. The exterior was mostly unchanged, apart from bold ‘3.5 Litre’ badging, a pair of fog lights which were added below the head lights, creating a striking 4 light array, and the fitting of chrome Rostyle wheels with black painted inserts. The P5B existed as both the 4-door coupe and saloon body style until end of production. Production ended in 1973, by when 9099 coupés and 11,501 saloons had been built.

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Whilst the 3 litre P5 model may have been thought of as a replacement for the top end of the long running P4 Rovers, it was really this car, the P6 model, first seen in October 1963 which was its true successor. Very different from the long-running 60/75/80/90/95/100/105/110 models, this car took some of its inspiration, it is claimed from the Citroen DS as well as lessons learned from Rover’s Jet Turbine program of the 1950s and early 60s. It was a “clean sheet” design, carrying nothing over, and was advanced for the time with a de Dion tube suspension at the rear, four-wheel disc brakes (inboard on the rear), and a fully synchromesh transmission. The unibody design featured non-stressed panels bolted to a unit frame. The de Dion set-up was unique in that the “tube” was in two parts that could telescope, thereby avoiding the need for sliding splines in the drive shafts, with consequent stiction under drive or braking torque, while still keeping the wheels vertical and parallel in relation to the body. The Rover 2000 won industry awards for safety when it was introduced and included a carefully designed “safety” interior. One innovative feature was the prism of glass on the top of the front side lights. This allowed the driver to see the front corner of the car in low light conditions, and also confirmed that they were operative. One unique feature of the Rover 2000 was the design of the front suspension system, in which a bell crank (an L-shaped rotating bracket trailing the upper hub carrier joint) conveyed the vertical motion of the wheel to a fore-and-aft-horizontally mounted spring fastened to the rear wall of the engine compartment. A single hydraulically damped arm was mounted on the firewall for the steering. The front suspension was designed to allow as much width for the engine compartment as possible so that Rover’s Gas Turbine engine could be fitted. In the event, the engine was never used for the production vehicle, but the engine compartment width helped the accommodation of the V8 engine adopted years after the car’s initial launch for the 2000. The luggage compartment was limited in terms of usable space, because of the “base unit” construction, complex rear suspension and, in series II vehicles, the battery location. Lack of luggage space (and hence the need to re-locate the spare tyre) led to innovative options for spare tyre provision including boot lid mountings and optional Dunlop Denovo run-flat technology. The car’s primary competitor on the domestic UK market was the Triumph 2000, also released in October 1963, just one week after the Rover, and in continental Europe, it contended in the same sector as the Citroen DS which, like the initial Rover offering, was offered only with a four-cylinder engine – a deficiency which in the Rover was resolved, four years after its launch, when Rover’s compact V8 was engineered to fit into the engine bay. The Rover 2000 interior was not as spacious as those of its Triumph and Citroen rivals, especially in the back, where its sculpted two-person rear seat implied that Rover customers wishing to accommodate three in the back of a Rover should opt for the larger and older Rover 3 Litre. The first P6 used a 1,978 cc engine designed specifically for the car, which put out around 104 bhp. That was not enough to live up to the sports saloon ambitions, so Rover later developed a twin SU carburettor version with a re-designed top end and marketed the revised specification vehicles as the 2000 TC. The 2000 TC was launched in March 1966 for export markets in North America and continental Europe, relenting and making it available to UK buyers later that year. This engine generated around 124 bhp. The standard specification engines continued in production in vehicles designated as 2000 SC models. These featured the original single SU. More performance was to come. Rover saw Buick’s compact 3528 cc V8 unit that they had been looking at developing as the means of differentiating the P6 from its chief rival, the Triumph 2000. They purchased the rights to the innovative aluminium engine, and, once improved for production by Rover’s own engineers, it became an instant hit. The Rover V8 engine, as it became known, outlived its original host, the P5B, by more than thirty years. The 3500 was introduced in April 1968, one year after the Rover company was purchased by Triumph’s owner, Leyland and continued to be offered until 1977. The light metal V8 engine weighed the same as the four-cylinder unit of the Rover 2000, and the more powerful car’s maximum speed of 114 mph as well as its 10.5-second acceleration time from 0–60 mph were considered impressive, and usefully faster than most of the cars with which, on the UK market, the car competed on price and specifications. It was necessary to modify the under-bonnet space to squeeze the V8 engine into the P6 engine bay: the front suspension cross-member had to be relocated forward, while a more visible change was an extra air intake beneath the front bumper to accommodate the larger radiator. There was no longer space under the bonnet for the car’s battery, which in the 3500 retreated to a position on the right side of the boot. Nevertheless, the overall length and width of the body were unchanged when compared with the smaller-engined original P6. Having invested heavily in the car’s engine and running gear, the manufacturer left most other aspects of the car unchanged. However, the new Rover 3500 could be readily distinguished from the 2000 thanks to various prominent V8 badges on the outside and beneath the radio. The 3500 was also delivered with a black vinyl covering on the C-pillar, although this decoration later appeared also on four-cylinder cars. A 3-speed Borg Warner 35 automatic was the only transmission until the 1971 addition of a four-speed manual 3500S model, fitted with a modified version of the gearbox used in the 2000/2200. The letter “S” did not denote “Sport”, it was chosen because it stood for something specific on those cars: “Synchromesh”. However it is important to note that the 3500S was noticeably quicker than the automatic version of this car with a 0-60mph time of 9 seconds, compared with 10.1 for the standard car. Moreover, due to the fuel-guzzling nature of automatic gearboxes of this era, the manual car’s official cycle was 24mpg compared to the automatic’s 22mpg. The Series II, or Mark II as it was actually named by Rover, was launched in 1970. All variants carried the battery in the boot and had new exterior fixtures such as a plastic front air intake (to replace the alloy version), new bonnet pressings (with V8 blips even for the 4-cylinder-engined cars) and new rear lights. The interior of the 3500 and 2000TC versions was updated with new instrumentation with circular gauges and rotary switches. The old-style instrumentation with a linear speedometer and toggle switches continued on the 2000SC versions. The final changes to the P6 came in the autumn of 1973 when the 2200 SC and 2200 TC replaced the 2000 SC and TC. These cars used an enlarged 2,205 cc version of the 2000 engine, which increased power outputs to 98 and 115 bhp respectively as well as offering improved torque. The P6 was replaced by the SD1 Rover, a completely different sort of car indeed, after 322,302 cars had been built.


This 1966 Rover/Alvis GTS prototype two-door fastback coupé was styled by the Rover designer David Bache. Although the car carried the Rover name, the design became the prototype replacement for the ageing Alvis 3-litre TF model (Rover had bought out the Alvis company in 1965). In fact, the full-scale clay was badged Alvis GTS. The car is based on the chassis of a contemporary P6 2000S, in itself special, as only 15 of the ‘S’ model were built, 12 for the home market and three for export. All but one of the home market cars went to Rover’s engineering department and this is the last of the 12. It is powered by a four-cylinder, 1978cc, 90bhp engine. Much of the lower panelling of the car reflected the standard P6 but the bonnet, roof, windows, front and rear end were new. The car was built by Radford coachbuilders of London in late 1966 and the car was registered in early 1967. It earned the nickname ‘Gladys’ at Rover, perhaps because of its heavy skirted look! The Alvis name was lost with the Leyland takeover of 1967 and no more came of the GTS project, although many of the interior features of the car found their way into later production P6s. After the project lapsed, David Bache kept the car as his personal transport and also for his wife.

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It is hard to imagine now just how excited people were when this dramatically different looking Rover burst onto the scene in July 1976. These days it takes a very extreme supercar for most car enthusiasts to get truly animated, but back then, a 3.5 litre V8 engined 5 seater British hatchback was all it took, and it was no surprise that the model collected the “Car of the Year” award later in 1976, fending off the second placed Ford Fiesta and the new Audi 100. Replacing both the Rover P6 and the big Triumphs which had been launched at the 1963 Motor Show and updated only in detail since then, this new David Bache styled car, with more than a hint of Ferrari Daytona in its profile really was something very different indeed to look at, even if underneath it was more of a clever update of proven mechanicals, with the 3.5 litre V8 engine carried over from its predecessor. Early press reports suggested that the car was as good to drive as it was to behold, and quickly there were long waiting lists as Rover struggled to produce the car fast enough in an all-new manufacturing facility in Solihull. Sadly, it did not take too long before it became apparent that although the car had been a long time in gestation, there were a number of design and manufacturing quality issues, quite apart form the extra ones that were inflicted by a still very truculent and strike-prone workforce. These frustrations did little to quell demand, though, which increased when the promised 6 cylinder models arrived in the autumn of 1977. 2300 and 2600 models sported a new 6 cylinder engine and were the more obvious replacement for the big Triumph and the Rover 2200 than the V8 car had been. BL’s next move was to take the car up market with the launch of the V8S in 1979 which was available in a rather bright Triton Green metalllic paint and a choice of gold or silver alloy wheels, as well having a far higher standard level of equipment. It was replaced by the even more luxurious Vanden Plas model in late 1980. More significant was a facelift which came in early 1982. A revised rear window line was aimed at improving the rather limited rear visibility and finally a rear wiper was fitted, this having been excluded from the earlier cars as it had been deemed unnecessary by a BL management who still thought that they knew better than the customers who clamoured for one) and the bumpers and lights were altered, along with significant interior trim and equipment changes. A few weeks later, a cheaper 4 cylinder 2000 model appeared, with the O Series engine under the bonnet, aimed at the all important fleet market and later that year it was joined by a diesel version, using the VM Motor engine, creating the 90 bhp 2400SD. The real joy though was the car revealed at the 1982 British Motor Show, the Vitesse, which boasted fuel injection and 190 bhp to give the car better performance, and with a new front and rear spoiler, the looks to suggest that this was an Autobahn-stormer to rival BMW and Mercedes. Of course, the other reason for the Vitesse was so as to homologate some of the changes for what turned out to be a less than successful career on the race track. It was this which led to the final handful of Vitesse models having a further power upgrade with the TwinPlenum versions, and these are the most highly prized cars of the lot these days. That said, values of SD1 remain very low, with the result that the majority of the cars have been scrapped as they are economic to restore. You see more Vitesse models than anything else so it was nice to see here that there are other models still around.

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Next new car from the Group was the fruits of the XX project, which emerged as the Rover 800 in July 1986. Replacing the much loved, but now 10 year old Rover SD1 design, this was a joint development effort with Honda. Not that you would know it by looking at the cars, as the Honda Legend looked completely different from the Rover. The 2.5 litre engines were shared, but Rover also installed their new M Series 2 litre unit under the bonnet, which in multi-point fuel injected guise in the Si and SLi models had a good 20 bhp more power than all its rivals, making this a rapid and refined executive car. Shame is that the early production concentrated on the V6 models, which were seen as a retrograde step compared to the sonorous V8 of their predecessor, and also somewhat lacking in torque (an upgrade to 2.7 litres in February 1988 addressed the latter issue to some extent). A conventional four door saloon on launch, a five door hatchback was added to the range a couple of years later, as well as a cheaper version with the O Series engine under the bonnet aimed at the fleet market.


The Rover CCV is a concept car shown at the Turin Motor Show 1986 under the Rover marque. The CCV name stands for Coupé Concept Vehicle. Designed by Roy Axe, it followed similar design themes of the 1985 MG EX-E. The CCV’s drag co-efficient was 0.27. The CCV’s two-door coupé design gave a preview of a potential coupé version of the Rover 800, which did not appear until 1991.

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This is the last example of the Rover 100/Metro to be made, a 114GTa, duly signed by all involved.


Although the Rover 800 had sold well, by the mid 90s, it was in need of replacement. The relationship with Honda, which had helped to create it, as well as the slightly smaller and cheaper Honda 600 was over, as new owners BMW had their own ideas of what to do with the marque that it is alleged that they sometimes referred rather unkindly to as “The English Patient”. Three new designs were produced under the guidance of Richard Woolley; a large saloon codenamed Flagship, a smaller vehicle (with the codename of Eric), and the 75. Of these only the 75 concept progressed. The initial aim had been to re-skin the Rover 600, but following the BMW takeover it was quickly decided that this platform would not be re-used but replaced by an entirely new model. Work on the new model, codenamed R40, progressed well with little operational interference from BMW; the styling received an enthusiastic response from the management and both companies believed the classical look would be the ideal direction for Rover. Revolutionary new design processes were adopted, including the 3D virtual reality assembly simulation “ebuild” techniques, ensuring the car would achieve class leading build quality when series production started. Under the lauded styling were to be a range of petrol and diesel engines from 1.8- to 2.5-litre sizes. Petrol engines would use the much praised Rover 4-cylinder K series in 1.8-litre guise and the quad cam KV6, offered in either short-stroke 2.0 or revised 2.5-litre formats. The 2.0-litre was later dropped on introduction of the 1.8-litre turbo for emissions purposes. Transmissions on all models would be either the Getrag 283 5-speed manual, supplied from the company’s new facility in Bari, Italy, or the JATCO 5-speed automatic unit—one of the first transverse engine deployments made with this feature. Braking would be in the form of all-round discs, complemented with a Bosch 5.7 4-channel ABS system and electronic brake force distribution. The parking brake was a cable operated drum integral within the rear discs. Suspension was to be a MacPherson strut arrangement at the front, anchored by lower alloy L-arms. The wide spacing of the mounting points, compliant bushings and a perimeter subframe gave the model a cushioned yet precise ride with relaxed handling that could be tuned for different markets or model derivatives such as the later MG ZT. The rear suspension, after a period of uncertainty during development, was eventually a version of BMW’s Z-Axle arrangement first featured on the 1988 Z1 sports car. At the time of the launch, there had been speculation within the media that the Rover 75 used the BMW 5-Series platform, perhaps due to the overall size of the model, the apparent presence of a transmission tunnel and the use of the parent company’s rear suspension system, but this was in fact not the case: Rover engineers had used the concept of incorporating a central tunnel which had been explored by BMW as part of their own research into front-wheel-drive chassis design. As the 75 took shape, this core engineering was passed over to Rover and evolved into the Rover 75 structure. The tunnel concept, along with the rear suspension system, was also used by the Rover engineers for the design of the Mini. The Rover 75 was premiered at the 1998 British Motor Show, and it attracted praise for its styling and design integrity. Although some labelled its styling as too “retro”, suggesting it had been designed with an older buyer in mind, and was not sporting enough when compared to the competition, it received far more praise than the Jaguar S Type which debuted at the same time. The 75 went on to win a series of international awards including various “most beautiful car” awards, including one in Italy. Assembly originally took place at Cowley but in 2000, following the sale of the company by BMW to Phoenix Venture Holdings, production was moved to Longbridge. 2001 saw the introduction of the Rover 75 Tourer (developed alongside the saloon but never authorised for production by BMW), swiftly followed by the MG ZT and MG ZT-T, more sporting interpretations of the model, differentiated by modified, sporting chassis settings and colour and trim derivatives. Between 2000 and 2003, there were few changes to the range: the most significant was the replacement of the 2-litre V6 engine by a low-pressure-turbocharged version of the 1.8-litre 4-cylinder engine, which benefited British company car drivers, taxed on carbon dioxide emissions. A customisation programme, Monogram, was launched, allowing buyers to order their car in a wider range of exterior paint colours and finishes, different interior trims and with optional extras installed during production In early 2004 Rover facelifted the design of the 75 to look less retro and more European. Changes were restricted to bolt-on components and some technical upgrades. At the front was a new, more angular bumper fitted with a mesh lower grille, bigger door mirrors, one-piece headlights with halogen projectors fitted as standard, revamped front and side indicators and fog lights as well as a larger yet sleeker chrome grille on top. The rear also featured a more modern bumper with a new chrome boot handle. The middle-specification Club trim was dropped, and on Connoisseur trim light oak wood took the place of the original walnut, which remained standard fitment on the entry-level Classic trim. Rover also added a new trim to the range called Contemporary which featured revised fittings such as larger alloy wheels, body colour exterior accents, black oak wood trim and sports seats as well as an altered equipment tally. The instrumentation and its back-lighting were modernised, the console texture finish was upgraded and the seat bolsters revised to offer more support. Access to the rear seats was improved and leg-room increased. Production of this range continued until the collapse of MG-Rover in April 2005. The 75 developed an almost fanatical following among many of its owners, and although even the newest model is now over 10 years old, many have hung onto their cars. They were well built, and have proved reliable and long-lasting, so there are still plenty around. This is the very last 75 to be built.


When it came to replacing the R8, Rover decided to introduce two models, the larger 400 being closely related to the next generation of Honda and the smaller model which had become known as the R3 also intended to take over from the Metro/Rover 100, by now a 15 year old product. it was by-and-large an all-new car that had been developed by Rover. Honda did provide early body design support as a result of moving production of the Honda Concerto from Longbridge to Swindon, freeing up capacity for 60,000 units at Rover. At this point, the car had a cut-down version of the previous car’s rear floor and suspension and was codenamed SK3. Lack of boot space and other factors led to Rover re-engineering the rear end to take a modified form of the Maestro rear suspension and the product was renamed R3. By the time the car was launched, Honda and Rover had already been “divorced” after the BMW takeover the previous year. The new 200 used K-Series petrol engines, most notably the 1.8 L VVC version from the MGF, and L-series diesel engine. During the mid 1990s the L-Series was a very competitive engine, regarded as second only to the VW TDI in overall performance, and an improvement over the R8s XUD, particularly in fuel economy while almost matching it for refinement. The R3 featured a completely re-designed interior and dashboard to accommodate the fitment of a passenger airbag in line with new safety standards. The 1.8-litre models earned a certain amount of praise for their performance, whilst the intercooled turbo diesel was claimed as one of the fastest-accelerating diesel hatchbacks on the market in the late 1990s, but in general, the press were not quite sure what to make of the 200. Part of that was around its positioning rather than its attributes. It could, and probably should have been marketed as a supermini, it compared closely in size and engine range with contemporary models such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, but instead Rover priced the car to compete with vehicles like the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Astra, which meant that it was criticised for being too small inside. Nonetheless, the third generation 200 was initially popular, being Britain’s seventh-best-selling new car in 1996 through to 1998. Within three years it had fallen out of the top 10 completely and was being outsold by traditionally poorer selling cars like the Volkswagen Polo Mk3 and the Peugeot 206.


This is a 1913 Standard 20hp Cheltenham cabriolet. It was only built in 1913 and 1914.


The Vanguard Phase III, released to the market for the mid-October 1955 Earls Court Motor Show, was a radical change with the elimination of the separate chassis. There was an overlap in availability of the old model with the Phase II estate continuing into 1956. UK fuel was no longer restricted to the 72 octane “Pool petrol” of the 1940s and early 1950s, and with the modest increases in available octane levels, the Vanguard’s compression ratio was increased to 7.0:1. The 2,088 cc engine with its single Solex downdraught carburettor now produced 68 bhp. The front suspension was independent, using coil springs, and was bolted to a substantial sub-frame which also carried the recirculating ball steering gear. Semi-elliptic leaf springs were used on the rear axle. Lockheed hydraulic brakes with 9 in (229 mm) drums were fitted front and rear. The three-speed gearbox had a column change and the optional overdrive was operated by a switch on the steering column. A four-speed floor change became an option. The new body was lower and had an increased glass area, making it look much more modern, and the old two-piece flat windscreen gave way to a one-piece curved design. The wheelbase increased by 8 in (203 mm), giving much better passenger accommodation. A heater was now a standard fitting. Bench seats were fitted in front and rear with folding centre arm rests. They were covered in Vynide, with leather available as an option. The car was lighter than the superseded model, and the gearing was changed to deliver better economy with performance virtually unchanged. The car was updated during the 1950s but by the time it was replaced it 1963 it definitely like a car from a prior era.

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This 1904 Thornycroft 20hp tourer was a regular entrant in the London to Brighton run between the wars where it came first several times.


Three years after the launch of the Herald, Triumph created a more sporting version by putting a 1600cc 6 cylinder engine under the bonnet, calling the result the Vitesse. Handling of the early cars, on their swing axle suspension was best described as “interesting”, but Triumph worked hard to revise (tame!) it so by the time that the 2 litre models were launched in 1965, the car was rather easier to drive briskly on bendy roads. A Mark 2 version was launched in 1968, with new front end styling and other trim differences, and the model lived on until 1971


Contemporary Triumph marketing advertised the GT6 as being developed from the “race winning Le Mans Spitfires” to capitalise on their aesthetic similarities, whereas the Le Mans Spitfires and the GT6 were actually two entirely separate development programmes (the GT programme pre-dating the racing programme). However, the marketing spin was so successful that many people erroneously believed the Le Mans Spitfires to actually be GT6s. The production car was introduced in 1966 and called the Triumph GT6. The new body was a sleek fastback design with an opening rear hatch which gave the GT6 the nickname “Poor man’s E-Type”. It was really a 2-seater, but a small extra rear seat could be ordered if required and was large enough for small children. The family resemblance to the Spitfire Mk II was strong, the longer 6-cylinder engine necessitated a new bonnet top with a power bulge and the doors were provided with opening quarter light windows and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The 6-cylinder engine was tuned to develop 95 bhp at 5000 rpm, and produced 117 lb·ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The increased power necessitated certain changes to the Spitfire mechanics; the radiator was new and mounted further forward in the car and the gearbox was the stronger unit from the Vitesse, with optional overdrive. Front springs were uprated to cope with the extra weight of the new engine. The overall vehicle weight unladed was 1,904 lb (864 kg). The interior of the GT6 was well equipped; a wooden dashboard housed a full complement of instruments, with carpets and heater included as standard. The new car had some very strong selling points. The new engine provided a 106 mph top speed and 0–60 mph in 12 seconds, a little better than the MGB GT. Moreover, the unit was comparatively smooth and tractable, in marked contrast to the MG’s rather harsh 4-cylinder engine. Fuel economy was very reasonable for the period at 20mpg, and the interior well up to the competition. The only major criticism was of its rear suspension; the GT6 inherited the swing-axle system from the Spitfire, which in turn was copied from the Herald small saloon. In the saloon it was tolerated, in the little Spitfire it was not liked and in the powerful GT6 it was heavily criticised. Triumph had done nothing to improve the system for the GT6 and the tendency to break away if the driver lifted off the power mid-corner was not helped at all by the increased weight at the front of the car. The handling was most bitterly criticised in the USA, an important export market for Triumph, where they were traditionally very strong. Similar criticism was being levelled at the Vitesse saloon, which shared the GT6’s engine and its handling problems. Triumph realised that they needed to find an answer to the handling problem, if only to maintain their reputation in the USA. Their response came with the 1969 model year, with the introduction of the GT6 Mk II, known in the States as the GT6+. The rear suspension was significantly re-engineered using reversed lower wishbones and Rotoflex driveshaft couplings, taming the handling and turning the Triumph into an MGB beater. The Vitesse was also modified, but the Spitfire had to wait until 1970 for any improvements to be made. There were other changes for the Mk II; the front bumper was raised (in common with the Spitfire Mk.3) to conform to new crash regulations, necessitating a revised front end, and side vents were added to the front wings and rear pillars. Under the bonnet, the engine was uprated to develop 104 bhp with a new cylinder head, camshaft, and manifolds. Performance improved to 107 mph but perhaps more noteworthy the 0–60 mph time dropped to 10 seconds. The fuel economy was also improved to 25 mpg. The interior was updated with a new dashboard and better ventilation, a two-speed heater fan and a black headlining. Overdrive remained a popular option for the manual transmission. A further update to the Series 3 came in the autumn of 1970, at the same time as the Spitfire Mark IV was launched, but sales remained low and the car was deleted in the autumn of 1973 with production having reached 40,926 examples.


The 1300 Saloon a medium sized luxury car, was intended as a replacement of the popular Triumph Herald. Launched at the London Motor Show in October 1965, the 1300 was designed by Michelotti in a style similar to the larger Triumph 2000. It was Leyland’s first front-wheel drive design. Their major rival was BMC, who were at the time producing three FWD model ranges including the Mini and the best-selling Austin 1100 series; it was hoped by Leyland that some of the 1100s phenomenal success would rub off on the new Triumph. Triumph decided to adopt a different layout to BMC however, placing the engine above the gearbox in a front-back configuration (but not sharing the same oil) rather than BMC’s transverse engine layout. This resulted in a tall profile for the engine/gearbox combination which limited styling options. The engine was the same 1296 cc unit as used in the Triumph Herald 13/60. (the engine had originated in 1953 in the Standard Eight in 803 cc form) A conventional OHV four-cylinder unit, it developed 61 hp with the single Stromberg CD150 carburettor (also as used in the Herald 13/60) and was mated to a 4-speed all-synchromesh gearbox. Front suspension was by double wishbone layout, attached to a shock-absorber/spring unit, and the rear suspension by semi-trailing arms and coil springs like the 2000. The interior was particularly well-appointed with full instrumentation in a wooden dashboard, wooden door cappings, adjustable steering column and comfortable seats with ventilated PVC upholstery. There was through-flow ventilation with outlets under the rear roof lip. The car was fairly roomy, and aside from a slightly baulky gearchange, easy to drive with very reasonable performance. Standard equipment was generous and included thick carpeting but no heated backlight. Although not reclining, the front seats were remarkably versatile and could be easily adjusted for height and rake. The steering column was adjustable not only up and down but back and forth as well. From a safety angle the door handles were recessed and could not be caught on clothing and the (awkward to operate) window winders were spring-loaded and similarly recessed. The instrument panel had a speedometer, fuel gauge, temperature gauge, ammeter and a comprehensive cluster of warning lights arranged in a “pie chart” formation. The rear seat had a centre armrest which could be folded up when not in use. Although the car was costly compared to its more humdrum rivals, it did find favour, both with the press, who rated it, and the public, who bought it in decent quantity. For 1968, the 1300TC joined the basic model. The TC used the engine then fitted in the Triumph Spitfire, which featured twin SU carburettors and in this configuration provided an advertised 75 hp. The compression ratio of the TC was 9.0:1, whereas the single carb engine compression was rated 8.5:1 The car was identified by discreet “TC” badges. Top speed was significantly higher than the 1300 at a claimed 90 mph and acceleration times were cut by 11 percent to a 0–50 mph time of 11.5 seconds. A road test a few months later significantly improved on the company’s performance claims, achieving a maximum speed of 93 mph and 0–50 mph time of 10.5 seconds. With the car then retailing for a recommended UK price of £909, the road test concluded that “the 1300 TC costs only £41 more than the original model, and is a very good bargain indeed”. An estate version of the 1300 reached the concept stages, but was never produced due to budgetary constraints, so all 1300s are four door saloons. In August 1970 the 1300 and 1300TC were replaced by the Triumph 1500. The engine was enlarged to 1493 cc, providing a useful increase in torque, but a decrease in overall power and increased fuel consumption. The front end was cleaned up considerably, and the rear redesigned with longer tail, providing a useful increase in boot space. Production of the FWD Triumphs came to an end in 1973. 113,00 examples of the regular 1300 were made and 35,342 1300TCs, but there are surprisingly few left now.


Envisioned as a luxury sports car, the Triumph Stag was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. The car started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate model lines already outlined in this report. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of aftermarket products, most of which were dealer installed as optional accessories could also be fitted. Rather unusually for a 4-seat touring car, the accessory list included a sump protector plate that was never produced. This was probably included as a slightly “gimmicky” tribute to Triumph’s rallying successes. Nowadays, the Stag is seen in a very different light, with lots of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable owners who enjoy the good points of this attractive looking car and who revel in the fact that the market has not yet boosted prices into the unaffordable category, as one day will surely happen. There were a couple of examples here, in two of the more sober colours offered.


The Dolomite really was the 3 Series of its day, a family sized saloon that offered a combination of luxury and sportiness that made it a cut above the average Cortina and Marina. Designed as the successor for the upmarket variants of Triumph’s front-wheel drive designs, and also to replace a sporting relative of the Herald, the 6-cylinder Triumph Vitesse, the Triumph Dolomite was unveiled at the London Motor Show in October 1971. However, due to a number of strikes and other industrial upsets, the car was not reported to be in full production until October 1972. The Dolomite used the longer bodyshell of the front wheel drive Triumph 1500, but with the majority of the running gear carried over from the rear-wheel drive Triumph Toledo. Initially, the only version available used the new slant-four 1854 cc engine, which mated an alloy OHC head to an iron block, providing 91 bhp which offered sprightly performance. This was a version of the engine that the company was already providing to Saab for use in their 99 model. The car was aimed at the then-new compact performance-luxury sector, vying for sales against cars such as the BMW 2002 and Ford Cortina GXL, and was offered with a high level of standard equipment, including twin headlamps, a clock, full instrumentation, luxury seats and carpets, a heated rear window, and a cigar lighter. Styling was similar to the Triumph 1500, with some updates such as a black painted rear panel, vinyl D-posts, and new wheel trims. The car was capable of 100 mph with 60 mph coming up in just over 11 seconds. An overdrive gearbox was soon made available as an option, offering relaxed motorway cruising and improved fuel economy, and there was also an optional automatic transmission. Although the Dolomite proved to be refined and rapid, competitors such as the BMW 2002 had a performance advantage which was costing Triumph dearly, both in terms of sales and prestige. To remedy this, Triumph unveiled the Dolomite Sprint in June 1973, although the launch had been delayed by a year; it had been due to go on sale in 1972. A team of engineers led by Spen King developed a 16-valve cylinder head with all of the valves being actuated using a single camshaft rather than the more conventional DOHC arrangement. The capacity was also increased to 1,998 cc and combined with bigger carburettors the output was upped to 127 bhp. This represented a significant power increase over the smaller 1850cc variant, however it fell short of the original target of 135 bhp Despite BL engineers being able to extract a reliable 150 bhp from test engines, the production line was unable to build the engines to the same level of quality, with production outputs being in the region of 125 bhp to 130 bhp. This led to the original model designation, the Dolomite 135, being replaced at short notice with the Sprint name. As a result of the use of this engine, the Dolomite Sprint has been claimed to be “the world’s first mass-produced multi-valve car”. While other multi-valve engines (notably the Lotus 907) were produced in volume, they were not used in mass production vehicles until after the introduction of the Dolomite Sprint. The design of the cylinder head won a British Design Council award in 1974. Performance was excellent, with 0–60 mph taking around 8.4 seconds, with a maximum speed of 119 mph. Trim was similar to the 1850, with the addition of standard alloy wheels (another first for a British production car), a vinyl roof, front spoiler, twin exhausts and lowered suspension. By now seats were cloth on the 1850, and these were also fitted to the Sprint. Due to the increase in power brought by the new engine, the rest of the driveline was upgraded to be able to withstand the extra torque. The gearbox and differential were replaced by a version of those fitted to the TR and 2000 series cars, albeit with a close ratio gearset in the gearbox. The brakes were upgraded with new pad materials at the front, and the fitment of larger drums and a load sensing valve at the rear. Other changes over the standard Dolomite included the option of a limited slip differential. The optional overdrive and automatic transmission from the 1850 model were also offered as options on the Sprint. Initial models were only offered in Mimosa Yellow, although further colours were available from 1974 on. At launch the Sprint was priced at £1740, which compared extremely well to similar cars from other manufacturers. Prospective buyers would have been hard pressed to justify the extra £1000 cost of the BMW 2002 Tii, which offered similar performance. The four-door practicality of the Sprint also made it a very attractive proposition for the young executive choosing his first company car. The press gave the Dolomite Sprint an enthusiastic reception. Motor summarised its road test (subtitled “Britain leads the way”) with glowing praise: ” …the Sprint must be the answer to many people’s prayer. It is well appointed, compact, yet deceptively roomy. Performance is there in plenty, yet economy is good and the model’s manners quite impeccable … Most important of all, it is a tremendously satisfying car to drive”. Sadly, it proved not quite so satisfying to own, as the legendary BL lack of reliability was a feature on some, but by no means all Sprints. In 1976, Triumph rationalised their range, calling all their small models, Dolomite, and using the same body shell, so the Toledo (which had maintained its stubby tail until this point) and 1500TC became the Dolomite 1300, 1500 and 1500HL respectively. With minor changes to trim and equipment, the cars continued in production until 1980.

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This is a proposed Dolomite reskin dating from 1972, styled by Michelotti.

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Launched at the same time as the Rover 2000 was Triumph’s large saloon car, also called 2000. A replacement for the long running Standard Vanguard, this was the more sporting of the duo, with a subtly different appeal from the Rover. Between them, the cars defined a new market sector in the UK, promising levels of comfort and luxury hitherto associated with larger Rover and Jaguar models, but with usefully lower running costs and purchase prices, all in a modern package. Both added more powerful models to their range, with Rover going down the twin carburettor route, whilst in 1967, Triumph installed a larger 2.5 litre engine and the then relatively new fuel injection system, creating the 2.5PI. This Lucas system was not renowned for its reliability in the early days, but it did make the car rapid and refined. A facelift in 1969 brought new styling front and rear, which turned out to be a taster for a new grand tourer model which would emerge a few months later, and in this Mark 2 guise, the car was sold until 1977, in both saloon and estate guises. A mid range model, with twin carburettors but the larger engine, the 2500TC was introduced in 1974 and the 2500S arrived in 1975 with more power but also carb fed, to replace the troublesome and thirsty PI. These are the most sought after models now. This 1977 Triumph 2500 S estate is the last example of the Triumph 2000/2500/2.5 PI series to come off the production line, and was not registered until September 1979 and last taxed in 1982!

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This is the Triumph SD2, the logical next step in the rejuvenation of the Specialist Division’s range of cars. The plan had been kicked off in 1969/70, when both sides of Rover-Triumph produced their own big car proposals – that resulted in the Rover P10, being chosen over the Triumph Puma, as penned by William Towns among others. When the Solihull Design Team won out in the internal design competition, they went on to create the Division’s first car, the Rover SD1. The formula was a simple, yet successful one – marry David Bache design with simple, yet well-honed Spen King engineering to produce a state of the art car… It worked, because the SD1 was a landmark car – both for the company and the opposition of the time. The SD2 was conceived as the much-needed replacement for the Triumph small-car range, which at the time, comprised of the Toledo/1500TC/Dolomite 1850 and Sprint (above). These cars, which dated back to 1965, occupied an interesting market niche, somewhat above the Austin-Morris range in terms of cost, but not so much in size. In modern terms, these cars would be referred to as ‘premium’ products, and Rover-Triumph was keen to capitalise on their popularity and produce an up-to-date interpretation of the theme. The SD2 was also designed with rationalization very much in mind – BLMC’s small specialist saloon cars, although outwardly similar, were a mixture of engines and transmissions – and their continued existence was proving to be a drain on the company’s finances. Finally, and most importantly, as Malcolm Harbour – manager of the SD2 programme – put it, ‘the original concept of the SD2 was approved in May 1972 by the Triumph management, and the whole idea was of having a replacement for the Dolomite ranges in the upper medium sector, fitting in that niche in the market, as complementary to SD1.’ In the concept submission document for the Triumph SD2, the car was described accordingly: ‘The product strategy of replacing the Triumph small car range by a compact saloon, positioned a little up market, but fitting logically below SD1 was to complete the rationalisation of the corporation’s range of specialist saloon cars, and was planned to bring with it considerable rationalisation of component and facility usage.’ Technically, the SD2 followed a similar path to the Rover SD1, inasmuch as the suspension system was conventional: McPherson struts with coaxial coil spring and 28.6mm-bore cartridge-type damper up front, with single lower link and anti-roll bar. The front subframe would be shared with the TR7, to which the lower suspension linkage, steering rack and engine would be mounted. At the rear would be a a live rear axle at the rear controlled by two trailing arms and a Watts linkage. Drive torque reactions would be absorbed by an extension of the axle-nose coupled to a crossmember. There would be 25.4mm-bore telescopic dampers mounted forwards of the axle, coil springs mounted on top of the axle. The engine range was soon expanded following pressure from the Marketing Department, which considered that the upmarket little SD2 would not form an effective direct replacement for the Toledo and 1500TC. The 1500TC power unit was therefore chosen as the power unit for the entry-level model and, in order not to jeopardise the car’s chances in export markets, the SD2 1500 would only be available in the UK. However, the slant-four engine was not the original proposal put forward by Triumph Engineers: right at the dawn of the programme, the six-cylinder overhead camshaft engines which were currently in development for the SD1 were also considered as a suitable base for a smaller power unit. As Harbour related, ‘there was a very apt proposal within Rover-Triumph to make four-cylinder versions of that engine.’ Prototypes were built and it was this that would have powered the new car had the programme gone to plan from the outset. The ‘miniature SD1’ theme, as Harbour put it, continued with the car’s styling. The Solihull Design Studio, led by David Bache, produced a rather formulaic scaling down of the larger car. There were many appealing features on the SD2, most notably its front-end styling treatment that gave the car a sleek modern appearance, and the treatment of the front wheel arches and bumpers was especially neat. Where the SD2 was let down was at the rear, where the semi-concealed rear wheels and rather heavy plastic appliqué aft of the rear side windows, fitted to the top-of-the range models, jarred with the rest of the car – the standard six-light entry-level model (above) was much cleaner. Be that as it may, the SD2’s styling was granted corporate approval in September 1973 and, at that point, looked set fair to make it into production. If the photographs of the SD2 looked rather less than flattering, the design did work rather better in the metal, so to speak. According the Harbour, the style of the SD2 was not just worked on within Solihull: ‘There was one model design produced in the Solihull Design Studio by David Bache’s group, but there was also a competing style that was produced by Pininfarina. ‘There were many people including myself who rather liked the Pininfarina style: it was slightly less controversial than the final SD2 style, with a very pronounced swage, and the cowelled wheel arches, and there was quite a lot of discussion with management about which was the way to go, but in the end they chose the in-house style.’ As well as Pininfarina’s proposal (above), Michelotti’s 1972 Dolomite facelift submission (below) was also presented as a Triumph SD2 styling idea. It was a conservative effort, very much in keeping with the existing car, but with a very European feel. In light of the more forward-looking alternatives, it was easily rejected. According to the SD2 concept submission document, ‘The vehicle style was given corporate approval in September 1973, and details of the proposed model range, with the information then current on the vehicle specification, the facilities plan, the market implications, and the financial status were set out in an interim submission made in December 1973.’ By November 1974, the Triumph SD2 product plan was looking very complete. According to the internal document, there would be four engine options: 1.5-, 1.7-, 2.0-litre twin-carb, and 2.0-litre 16-valve (all the slant-fours would be ‘cost reduced’). At this stage, they were all Triumph-derived (so the Dolomite 1500 overhead-valve for the entry-level, a 1.7-litre version of the slant-four, and the TR7 engine and Dolomite Sprint engines). As we’ll see, that became a moveable feast as the British Leyland rationalisation programme, post-Ryder Report, began to take hold. According to Triumph SD2 product planning document (above), sales would have been modest, but presumable highly profitable. Anticipated volumes for 1979/80 would have been 83,000 per year, with the car being offered across Europe (except Sweden), and all BL’s overseas markets, aside from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, which all offered their own locally-produced alternatives. The development programme had been capped with a £20 million limit, which resulted in the limited range, and reliance on carry-over parts, and the new platform would be used elsewhere in the Rover-Triumph model line-up. Other problems concerned the cost of the gearbox/axle assemblies and whether they could be shared with the ADO77 project,which was being drawn up at the same time in Longbridge. Management nervousness over the SD2’s chances of success was echoed within several internal documents that pointed to its production cost being too expensive to make a profitable return. They also made several unfavourable comparisons with the Audi 80 and Opel Ascona, which led to another examination of how further costs could be taken out of the SD2. However, the internal documents also pointed to a potentially positive performance in the marketplace. ‘The market position of the SD2 should be enhanced by the performance of the 1800cc and 2000cc versions, and by excellent handling. The suspension is of a similar design to the SD1, which is producing quite exceptional results in ride and handling,’ claimed the document. Continuing evaluation of the programme and its implications came to a head on 16 September 1974, when the Director of Product Planning, John Bacchus, held a meeting of the management team behind the SD2 in order to address the fact that it looked like the car would not return a favourable profit. The main issues at the time were that the car was described as being overweight, and that the engineering changes required to accommodate the O-Series engine would add extra time and resource to the programme, which was already under pressure from elsewhere within British Leyland. However, there was much positive language being used about the programme internally: ‘The SD2 will be extremely well-priced (the anticipated list prices were below those of the Alfa Romeo Alfetta, Audi 80, BMW 3-Series and Lancia Beta), and it’s well placed to maintain the loyalty of a high proportion of the current Triumph owner body in the UK.’ In addition, the internal memo, titled, ‘Concept submission for a minimum investment programme‘, stated: ‘The SD2 is positioned in what is predicted to be the most rapidly growing market sector during the next 5-10 years. In addition, Rover-Triumph believes that the compact specialist nature of the SD2 means that it is the best position to complement the less expensive compact cars and the larger front-wheel drive cars manufactured by Austin-Morris.’ According to the internal documents from September 1974, based on the production plan, the SD2 was going to be very profitable for BL. So much so, that if UK and European sales were disappointing, the shortfall could be made in the USA, maintaining required production volumes of 50,000 per year.
The model range anticipated for the late-1970s would look like this: Mini, Allegro, SD2/Marina, ADO71, SD1 and Jaguar at the top. The document continued: ‘The SD2 also provides an important step forward in the long-term rationalisation of the corporation’s car range. Its floorpan, suspension and major components will provide a suitable basis for the Marina replacement at some future time.’ That, of course would come to pass, even if the TM-1 project never actually made it into production. The idea was to continue with the SD2 but, wherever possible, make as many savings as possible. Without being able to expand slant-four production, the powertrain choice was revised to incorporate a 1.8-litre twin-carb version of the upcoming O-Series engine alongside the 2.0-litre slant-four, now described as ‘not cost reduced’. After much deliberation on the matter of the gearbox, the plan was to use the LT77 gearbox as used in the SD1, alongside a BW three-speed auto, which could be offered across the entire range. Production targets were also dropped to 50,000 per year in order to give Rover-Triumph the option of selling the car for more, thus raising its profitability. Much discussion ensued and, in the face of increasing internal resistance, it seemed that only Spen King continued to have faith in the concept of the SD2. When the collapse of BLMC followed in December 1974, and with the Ryder Report then recommending rationalisation across the range, it was inevitable that the SD2 was doomed.

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Whilst the TR6 had been a careful update of the Michelotti designed TR4 and 5 models, with a new front and rear end disguising the model’s origins, when the next and what turned out to be final TR model was launched in January 1975, it really was all new. A dramatic Harris Mann wedge shaped was shock enough for the purists, but the fact that at launch it only came as a Fixed Head Coupe was almost too much for some to bear. In the end, though. more TR7s were sold than any other TR model, so it really cannot have been all that bad even if the car had a somewhat bumpy existence, moving production plant from Speke, Liverpool where the early cars were made, to Canley, Coventry in 1978 and then finally to the Rover Solihull plant in 1980. An open topped model did join the range in 1980 and small numbers of factory built TR8s with the 135 bhp Rover V8 engine under the bonnet were made, but the proposed 2+2 Lynx model, and a version with the 16 valve Dolomite Sprint engine and the 2 litre O Series unit never made production. The car was launched in the United States in January 1975, with its UK home market debut in May 1976. The UK launch was delayed at least twice because of high demand for the vehicle in the US, with final sales of new TR7s continuing into 1982. The TR7 was characterised by its “wedge” shape, which was commonly advertised as: “The Shape of Things to Come”, and by a swage line sweeping down from the rear wing to just behind the front wheel. It had an overall length of 160 inches, width of 66 inches, wheelbase of 85 inches and height of 49.5 inches, and a kerbside weight of 2205 pounds, exactly 1000 kg. During development, the TR7 was referred to by the code name “Bullet”.The original full size model wore MG logos because it was styled at Longbridge, which was not a Triumph factory. Power was provided by a 105 bhp 1,998 cc eight-valve four-cylinder engine that shared the same basic design as the Triumph Dolomite Sprint engine, mounted in-line at the front of the car. Drive was to the rear wheels via a four-speed gearbox initially with optional five-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic from 1976. The front independent suspension used coil spring and damper struts and lower single link at the front, and at the rear was a four-link system, again with coil springs. There were front and rear anti roll bars, with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The interior trim was revised in March 1977, with the broadcord seat covers being replaced with red or green “tartan” check inserts with black leather effect vinyl edging, which looks so very period. now The tartan trim was also reflected in the door cards in padded matching red or green tartan cloth inserts in the black leather effect vinyl. A number of other detailed changes were made, partly to ensure commonality of parts in future models, such as the Convertible and the TR8, and also based on what else was available from the corporate parts bin. Badging changed a number of times, but there were no other significant alterations before the end of production in 1981. In total approximately 115,000 TR7 models were built which includes 28,864 soft top/convertibles, and approximately 2,800 TR8 models. The example seen here is a regular TR7 Convertible.

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In early 1979, a joint MG-Triumph project to produce a new sportscar based on the TR7 was started under the name Project Broadside. This was based on the TR7, with a wheelbase stretched by 5 inches (130 mm), with either an O-Series or Rover V8 engine, and both drophead and fastback body styles. Project Broadside was cancelled later in 1979, owing to a lack of funding.

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The last car ever to bear the Triumph was this, the Acclaim. A front-wheel drive medium-sized family car made from 1981 to 1984, it t was based on the Honda Ballade and used a Honda-designed engine, but met United Kingdom component-content requirements which were still in place at the time. Not only was it the final model of the Triumph marque, and the first fundamentally Japanese car to be assembled in Europe, it was also the first product as a result of the partnership with Honda which ran for over 15 years. The development process began in 1978, when British Leyland entered into negotiations with Honda to develop a new small family saloon, originally intended as a stopgap measure until the Maestro/Montego models were to be ready for production in 1983. On 26 December 1979 Michael Edwardes officially signed a collaboration between the two companies. The new car went into production 18 months later, badged as the Triumph Acclaim and based on the Honda Ballade. It replaced the Triumph Dolomite of the 1970s. The Acclaim was officially launched by BL on 7 October 1981 and with the ending of Dolomite and TR7 production, it meant that the Acclaim was the only car to wear the Triumph badge after 1981. The Acclaim was significant as the first essentially Japanese car to be built within the European Economic Community (now the European Union), to bypass Japan’s voluntary limit of 11 percent market of the total number of European sales. The Acclaim was also a major turnaround point for BL itself, with the car sporting good reliability and build quality from the outset. The Acclaim holds the record for the fewest warranty claims for a BL car. Unlike previous Triumphs, it was assembled at the Pressed Steel Fisher Plant at Cowley Oxford, taking over the withdrawn Austin Maxi production lines. It paved the way for the Honda-based, Rover-badged range of cars which BL, Austin Rover and Rover Group would develop throughout the 1980s and 1990s. There was not time to do much about the styling, with the most notable outward change from the Honda being the appearance of a central badge on the grille. At the time, the Japanese model had “Honda” to the right-hand side of the grille. Other changes included twin Keihin carburettors (the Ballade had only a single carburettor), the mirrors were situated on the doors, the independent front and rear MacPherson strut suspension was tweaked for the UK market and the seats were based on Morris Ital frames. The Acclaim was provided in a more luxurious interior trim than its Honda equivalent, even in its base models. The brakes were disc at the front and drum at the rear. All Acclaims were powered by the transverse-mounted all alloy and overhead-cam 1335 cc engine found in the Honda Civic driving the front wheels through either a five-speed manual gearbox or a three-speed Trio-matic gearbox (a manually selectable automatic transmission, the same as the Hondamatic) and the interior was nearly identical (except for the seats). The usual BL trim levels were offered: L, HL, HLS and the top of the range CD, which had front and rear electric windows, chrome bumpers, headlamp washers, 165/70 tyres (the L had 145/80 tyres and the HL & HLS had 155/80 tyres), plastic wheel trims, velour upholstery with seat pockets on the back of the front seats, front seat head restraints and optional air conditioning. The car remained largely the same throughout its production life. A Mark 2 version of the Acclaim came out in 1983 (from VI No. 180415 onwards). The main changes were to the exterior door handles, an electronic digital clock replaced the previous mechanical one, a restyled steering wheel, a restyled gear knob, the rear interior door handles (they were just swapped) and the heater recirculation control, which was moved. Mark 2 HL and HLS cars were better equipped than the earlier ones. There was a limited-edition Avon Acclaim that had leather seats with piping to match the body colour, leather door panels, wooden and leather trimmed dashboard, wooden door cappings, two-tone metallic paint, colour-coded wheels with chrome embellishers, chrome-plated grille, colour-coded headlamp surrounds, vinyl roof and extra soundproofing. There was also an Avon Turbo, which had Lunar alloy wheels with 205/60 tyres, suede upholstery, front air dam, and side decals. A Turbo Technics turbocharger increased the engine’s power output from the standard 70 bhp to 105 bhp. It is thought that there are only four surviving Avon Turbos including the press car (VWK689X), which was the first Avon Turbo. In 1982 and 1983, the Acclaim featured in the top-ten-selling cars in Britain, the first Triumph to achieve this feat since records began in 1965. Production finished in the summer of 1984 when the Rover 200 was launched, based on the next incarnation of the Honda Ballade. A total of 133,625 Acclaims were produced, the vast majority of which were sold in the UK, with the last Acclaim off the production line (a silver CD with the Trio-matic) now in the Heritage Motor Centre. The Acclaim’s demise saw the end of the Triumph marque as a car. You don’t see Acclaims very often so it was good to find a couple of well preserved ones here.


The Vanden Plas Princess R with its Rolls-Royce all-aluminium 175 bhp engine was announced in August 1964. With an unusually high power to weight ratio the car gave easy cruising at 90+ mph and was capable of 112 mph. While there were some significant exterior alterations, the big change was under the bonnet where there was a result of more than two years technical collaboration between BMC and Rolls-Royce. The aluminium Rolls-Royce FB60 engine was a short-stroke version of the B series engine: 4, 6 and 8 cylinder units of which more than 30,000 had already been produced. The 6-cylinder engine weighed only 450 lb (204 kg). Its cubic capacity was 3909cc and its output was 175 bhp @4,800 rpm. Twin SU carburettors were fitted. Both block and head were aluminium, tappets were hydraulic self-adjusting operating on overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. The counterbalanced crankshaft ran in seven bearings. The 4-litre R was replete with polished walnut fascia padded top and bottom, hide upholstered seats with fully reclinable backs and polished picnic tables for the rear passengers. A new automatic transmission was provided, Borg-Warner model 8, its first use in a British car and Hydrosteer variable ratio power steering accompanied wider tyres. Externally the fog lamps were moved up by the grille, the hindquarters tidied extended and adjusted to look more substantial and the tailfins replaced by small corner-ridges. The new car was priced on a par with the curvaceous Jaguar Mark X (albeit only the manual transmission model of the Jaguar and 50 per cent more than its apparent predecessor the 3-litre car. It was a major change of market positioning aimed at the growing prestige and executive market in Europe and the United States, but its close appearance to its predecessor, its pricing near to that of the Jaguar, which was both bigger, with a far more advanced chassis design, more prestigious though itself without a useful market in the United States, doomed it to failure. Joint production capacity of 12,000 cars a year was provided, (although actual production was never more than a fraction of this) and final assembly and hand finishing was at the Vanden Plas works in Kingsbury London. The Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre R remained in production until 1968, just ahead of BMC’s merge into British Leyland. 6,687 vehicles were produced at Kingsbury and an additional 312 C.K.D. kits were exported to South Africa bringing total production to 6,999 units. It was the only mass-produced civilian vehicle from another manufacturer ever to use a Rolls-Royce engine.

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This is a prototype Vanden Plas version of the ADO71 car. It was built in mid 1975, just after the launch of the 18-22 Series, and was based on a Morris 2200. The car was built at the Kingsbury VP works and was used as the works hack for some time before being handed to the Trust. The most striking feature is the large front grille taken from the Allegro VP and successfully grafted into the styling to give an almost Jaguar appearance, with a fabricated bonnet neatly moulded to fit behind it. The headlamps are also unique and feature integral indicator lenses with the spaces left by the original side and indicator lamps now covered by a pair of driving lamps. This car is painted in Romano Purple, a colour which would later be used on the Princess 100 Club Special. Inside, there were plenty of Vanden Plas touches, ranging from leather seats and deep pile carpeting, extensive use of burr walnut, rear picnic tables, electric windows and other refinements. BL chose not to put this model in production as they felt the extra production costs could never be justified and it would have been quite expensive comparatively, and one wonders who would have bought it. Instead, the Wolseley version remained at the top of the range until the rechristening as a Princess, at which point the HLS became the plushest model on offer.


Herbert Austin of the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Co. designed the first Wolseley prototype in 1895 and an improved model in 1897, but it was not until 1899 that the first really successful model was produced, a 3 1/2hp four wheeler. It was such a model that participated in the Thousand Miles Trial of 1900, confirming Wolseley to be a serious player in the infant British motor industry. On that event Wolseley’s entry was driven by their Chief Designer Herbert C. Austin, taking 1st Prize in Class B and winning the French Club Silver Medal. The 6hp Wolseley of 1904 was conventional in most respects, featuring a forward mounted, horizontal, single-cylinder engine with bore and stroke of 4 1/2 in x 5 in. Final drive was provided by central chain and its most popular guise was a two-seater configuration. Cooling was provided by distinctive gilled tubes wrapped around the bonnet – a Wolseley feature.


This 1923 Wolseley E3 Ten was known as a Doctor’s Coupe, as part of a marketing ploy to suggest this car was suitable for professionals such as Doctors.

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Dating from 1932 is this Wolseley Hornet EW special with Whittingham and Mitchell bodywork. This FW Special model was a very early car and was built in 1932, 2 years after production begun in 1930. It has the original 1.3 Litre (1271cc) Overhead Cam, 6-Cylinder Engine, which runs on Petrol. Hornets were built from 1930 to 1935 when Morris decided MG would do all future sports cars.


This is a 1934 Wolseley Nine. Around 13,000 were built during the two years of production.


Along with the 4/50, the 6/80 was the first new model that Wolseley put into production after the war. Launched in 1948, the new cars were based on the Morris Oxford MO and the Morris Six MS respectively. The 4-cylinder 4/50 used a 1476 cc 50 hp version of the 6/80 engine, while the 6/80 used a 2215 cc 72 hp straight-6 single overhead cam. It was 7″ longer, to accommodate the longer in-line 6 cylinder engine and had bigger brakes. The cars featured a round Morris rear end and upright Wolseley grille and were used extensively by the Police at the time, especially the 6/80. These models were built at Morris’ Cowley factory alongside the ‘Oxford’. They were replaced in 1953 and 1954 by the Wolseley 4/44 and 6/90.

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The Wolseley 1500 is one of a pair of medium sized saloon cars, the Riley One Point Five being the other, which was launched in 1957. Conceived as a potential replacement for the Morris Minor, because that car was still selling well, the model ended up only ever being offered with the more costly marques’ badges attached (though Australians did get variants called the Austin Lancer and Morris Major). The Riley and similar Wolseley were based on the Morris Minor floorpan, suspension and steering but fitted with the larger 1489 cc B-Series engine and MG Magnette gearbox. As well as trim and badging, the twins were differentiated by nearly 20 hp, the more sporting Riley having twin SU carburettors giving it the most power at 68 hp. The Wolseley was released first, in April, while the Riley appeared in November, directly after the 1957 London Motor Show. A Series II model came out in May 1960. The most notable external difference was the hidden boot and bonnet hinges. Interior storage was improved with the fitting of a full width parcel shelf directly beneath the fascia. The Series III launched in October 1961, featuring revisions to the grille and rear lights. In October 1962 the car received the more robust crank, bearing and other details of the larger 1,622 cc unit now being fitted in the Austin Cambridge and its “Farina” styled clones. Unlike the Farina models, however, the Wolseley 1500 and Riley One-Point-Five retained the 1,489 cc engine size with which they had been launched back in 1957. Production ended in 1965 with 39,568 Rileys and 103,394 Wolseleys made.


When the Longbridge site was cleared, all manner of things which had been abandoned came to light. There was a tunnel which went under the main road and this had been used to store things including complete cars. This Mini is one of the vehicles that were rescued from the tunnel and is presented as found.


Newest car in this gallery was this imposing Rolls Royce Phantom, the vehicle of choice for the rich and famous who like to arrive in style. The Phantom was the first all-new Rolls-Royce introduced after BMW bought the company, and this is an early example donated to the Heritage Motor Centre by its manufacturer. Note that the Spirit of Ecstasy is not visible as it retracts into the radiator grille when the ignition is switched off, and also the huge wheels, the largest ever fitted to any production car.

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This is a 1921 Harding Pultney motor chair, although the DVLA has it recorded with the year of manufacture as 1929. This is an invalid carriage with a northern Ireland plate. Owned by racing legend Paddy Hopkirk it was the first vehicle paddy had the experience of driving in Belfast in 1941.

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At one end of the floor. you can look down and see the workshops on the floor below, where a number of the collection’s cars are being restored back to working order.

Rover’s final gas turbine car was this Le Mans racer based on the chassis of a crashed 1962 BRM Formula 1 car. It first ran at the 1963 race with an open-top body and was classed as an experimental vehicle outside the main entry. For the following year it gained its current body designed by William Towns, but was withdrawn from the race due to lack of testing time, and its only competitive outing was in 1965, when it finished an impressive tenth overall despite damage to the turbine.


This is a 2002 Jaguar R3 Formula 1 car. This particular car was Irvine’s regular car throughout 2002, including the Monza race. It was chosen for preservation, although it is not currently fitted with an engine, and is liveried as it was for the Monza race. After an absence from motor racing of almost a decade, it was announced at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1999 that the existing Stewart-Ford Formula One Grand Prix team (which had been bought by Ford in June 1999) would become the Jaguar Racing team. Naturally the return of Jaguar to racing, especially in Formula One, attracted a great deal of interest, both from the media and from many fans. At first managed by Jackie Stewart OBE and his son Paul, the new team was based at Milton Keynes. The first Jaguar single-seater racing car, the R1, was developed from the existing Stewart-Ford, and was unveiled at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in London on 25 January 2000. The engine was a Cosworth V10, supplied by this Ford-owned company at Northampton. The debut race for the new team came in the Australian Grand Prix in March 2000, the traditional season opener. The team drivers were Eddie Irvine, who had finished second in the drivers’ championship in 1999 in a Ferrari, and Jonny Herbert, winner of the 1999 European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in the Stewart. Eddie Irvine was to spend three seasons with Jaguar until 2002, but Johnny Herbert was replaced by Luciano Burti, at the start of the 2001 season and then from April by Pedro de la Rosa. For 2001 the car became the R2 and for 2002 the R3; both were in effect developed versions of the original design. The best result achieved during 2002 was the third place for Eddie Irvine in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in September. Altogether he scored eight championship points during the season.


When you buy an admission ticket for the museum, you will be asked if you wish to GiftAid your admission ticket, which is of course a worthwhile thing to do, as it allows the museum to reclaim the tax element associated with your entry fee. It is a benefit to you, too, as the ticket is then valid for a full 12 months. So with the ability to return at no additional entrance cost, I really must make sure (Covid restrictions notwithstanding, of course) that I take full advantage of this. There’s always lots to see and learn from every visit to this fantastic collection.

More details on the museum’s own website:

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