The world famous National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in Hampshire will celebrate its golden half century next week. And to celebrate the anniversary, on Sunday 3 July, it will open an exhibition about the story of driving in 50 objects.
On that day, it also invites owners of 1970s classics to join the 50th anniversary celebration on a 1970s Classic Car Drive-In Day. Owners of cars registered in 1972 – when the museum opened – go free.
The Beaulieu Collection was founded by Edward, Lord Montagu, who started it as a tribute to his father John, 2nd Baron Montagu, pioneer of motoring, before opening the museum on July 4, 1972 as the world’s first permanent national motorcycle museum. The present Lord Montagu, Edward’s son, oversees the Jubilee celebrations.
Birthday Celebration: The National Motor Museum in Beaulieu is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an exhibition about the story of driving in 50 objects.
The 50 objects chosen were brought back from over 1.7 million items cared for by the National Motor Museum Trust.
And here’s where Daily Mail readers get an exclusive look at the final roster.
Modern automobiles have their origins in the fragile-looking motorized tricycle developed by Carl Benz in the winters of 1885 and 1886.
In 1888, Benz’s wife Bertha became the world’s first motorist when she took their two sons aboard the Benz Patent-Motorwagen on an 80-mile journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim in Germany. A replica is in the museum today.
Bertha’s journey was slightly less daring than Luigi Barzini’s epic tale of his 10,000-mile adventure in the 1907 Beijing to Paris endurance race.
The book, which was a favorite of museum founder Edward Lord Montagu, is also on display.
Another publication to be featured is Autocar’s 1896 Redletter edition, which celebrates the Emancipation Run from London to Brighton – scrapping the requirement for a man to walk in front of red flagged cars and raise the speed limit. from 4mph to 14mph.
There will also be plenty of cars, such as the 1903 De Dion-Bouton, which cost £200 and reached a whopping 30mph when it arrived at Beaulieu’s estate in 1913. The vehicle has been on display since 1952.
The first issue of the magazine Practical motorist and motorcyclist
Bentley fans will love the ‘Blower’, which has a 4.5 liter supercharged engine and is an example of engineering excellence from the 1920s.
Other objects include a men’s motorcycle jacket, made of wool and fur, from 1910; the 1912 Norton BS ‘Old Miracle’, a 112-record motorcycle; an 1899 Daimler, Britain’s first car manufacturer; the BRM V16, Britain’s first F1 car and a ‘Votes for Women!’ Shell postcard produced in 1908.
Percy Lambert’s racing sides are on display and he was the first man to drive more than 100 miles in an hour – at Brooklands on February 15, 1913. Sadly, he died a year later trying to regain the record after giving it to his fiancée promised would be his last attempt.
And there are plenty of other exhibits dedicated to drivers who have pushed the boundaries.
There will be displays of the exploits of Major Henry Segrave who broke the land speed record at Daytona Beach in 1929 by hitting 231.45 mph in Golden Arrow; Mike Hailwood’s Honda RC162 that drove him to victory in the 1961 Isle of Man TT; and the Bluebird CN7 attempting to hit 403 mph on the salt flats of Lake Eyre in South Australia.
And it’s not just men, either: Surgeon Morna Lloyd Vaughan and her medical student co-driver Charlotte Nash took part in several Monte Carlo rallies in a Triumph Nine Coupe, winning the Coupe des Dames (for best-performing female drivers) and putting the broken legs of crashed competitors.
Other races on display include the 1900-1903 Gordon Bennett Cups in which nations competed, hence the famous British Racing Green.
Design classic: The 1959 Austin Seven (Mini) marks the beginning of Britain’s best-selling car designed by Sir Alec Issigonis
The automotive industry has, of course, always been proud of its technological progress.
One of the first of these was the motorcycle wheel mount in 1899 that allowed cyclists to convert bicycles to 18 mph motorcycles.
Other objects on display at Beaulieu include a Halda taximeter, mandatory in London taxicabs from 1906; Percy Shaw’s cat eyes developed from 1935; a pre-satellite navigation navigator for roads, a series of rolled-up route maps; and a crash test dummy.
Visitors can also watch a silent home movie of Edwardian London showing the transition from horse to mechanical power, as well as a 1907 brochure from the Van, Wagon and Omnibus Company promoting the use of electrical power.
Electricity was surprisingly popular in the early 20th century and was used by Harrods for its vans – one of which can be seen in Beaulieu. Also on display is a 1917 Fordson tractor, one of 135,000 produced during the war years alone.
Perhaps Beaulieu’s best-known export is The Spirit of Ecstasy – created by Charles Sykes in 1911 and believed to be based on John Montagu’s mistress Eleanor Thornton
Perhaps Beaulieu’s most famous export is The Spirit of Ecstasy (above), which was created by Charles Sykes in 1911 and is believed to be based on John Montagu’s secretary and mistress Eleanor Thornton.
There are also plenty of works of art, including a Crown Staffordshire model car; the Pratts branding on American gas pumps that first appeared in Britain in the 1920s; Ron Hickman’s early designs for the 1963 Lotus Europa; and a mascot of a glass car radiator by artist Rene Lalique.
A 1981 Ford Escort RS1800 with the slogan ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’, as a result of its rally success, will be placed side by side with a 1955 Shell TV commercial narrated by John Betjeman.
The Story of Motoring exhibit will also showcase technology — from Victorian road builders clogs to a demo of the 1913 Ford production line; early indicator lights; an AA callsafe cell phone in a 1990s bag; the first issue of the magazine Practical Motorist & Motorcyclist; the affordable DRH car radio and camouflage at Ford’s Dagenham plant, which by 1945 had produced 500,000 army trucks, ambulances and tractors.
The 1959 Austin Seven marks the beginning of Britain’s best-selling car designed by Sir Alec Issigonis – more than ten million were built worldwide.
A 1935 Datsun Type 14 from Japan, inspired by a different Austin, will also be on display as the company was renamed Nissan in the 1980s and its massive factory in Sunderland opened in 1986.
And a British intelligence report examining whether Hitler’s beetle could aid Britain’s post-war recovery could be interesting.
British car bosses thought it had no future, but after being rescued by Major Ivan Hirst, the Beetle became the world’s best-selling car.
Families are critical to the auto industry as practical diversions dominate the market. There’s a family photo from 1923 — when driving was a hobby — of a family stopping for a picnic.
The children in the photo may have read the 1920s book on display that captured the popularity of charabancs — open-topped carriages with rows of benches.
There are carriages that are both royal and practical. A pram carrying a young Prince Charles and Princess Anne around the grounds of Buckingham Palace will be on display alongside the AC 70 three-wheeled carriage that gave independence to people with disabilities from the 1940s.
Fashion and music fans will love the 1979 fishtail parka used by Mods to protect their suits in the late 1970s and today worn by rock star Liam Gallagher.
There’s also a 2013 England football fans car pack including flags – and the obligatory fluffy dice.
- The story of driving in 50 objects at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, Hampshire. For more information visit beaulieu.co.uk or call 01590 612345.
Women in industry overtake men
Key role: Alison Jones (pictured) is senior vice president of circular economy at Stellantis
When it comes to determining future cars and fashion for showrooms, the auto industry is still a man’s world.
But women get into the fast lane and start overtaking.
That’s my take from the latest annual Brit List 2022, which ranks the top 50 most powerful Britons in the global auto industry.
Stuart Rowley, who was appointed to the global position of Chief Transformation and Quality Officer for Ford earlier this year – in addition to his current role as President of Ford of Europe – emerged among the top automotive movers and shakers.
However, there are only eight women in the top 50, with the highest-ranking woman, Alison Jones (pictured) – now in a global role as senior vice president of circular economy for Stellantis – just outside the top ten in 11th place.
There are other welcome signs that top female bosses are rapidly rising in the rankings, as more female executives climb the corporate ladder at all levels. The first Brit List – published in 2012 – contained no women at all.
Gerry McGovern, Jaguar Land Rover’s Chief Creative Officer, is responsible for the appearance of the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.
He also plays a vital role in the reinvention of Jaguar.
Third place is Scottish-born consumer electronics expert Jim Rowan, who shoots straight into the top ten as president and CEO of Swedish Volvo.
Auto Express’ Brit List was chosen by an independent panel of industry experts. And here I must declare an interest. I am one of them.
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