It has been 30 years since the British Motor Museum first opened its doors to the public at its site in Gaydon! On 1 May 1993, visitors got their first look at the world’s largest collections of historic British cars inside the impressive brand-new building.
The origins of the Museum’s collections date back to 1975 when Leyland Historic Vehicles was founded to look after vehicles which had been kept for historic or publicity purposes by a number of the individual companies that made up British Leyland Motor Corporation. By 1983, the archive and vehicle collections had grown to the point where it was decided to establish an independent charitable trust to safeguard them, and the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust (BMIHT) was born. The collections rapidly outgrew the Museum at Syon Park, London and the headquarters at Studley Castle. With the help of an £8m investment from Rover Group, a new home was found in Gaydon, Warwickshire – bringing a brand-new visitor attraction to the area.
The building was designed not only to house the cars and extensive motoring archive but also to offer educational and purpose-built conference facilities to ensure its long-term sustainability. The purpose was, and still is, to collect, conserve and share the story of Britain’s motor industry from its inception to the current day, for today’s generation and into the future.
Thirty years on, the British Motor Museum has gone from strength to strength. The collections have Designated Status, recognising their national and international significance. The number of cars on display exceeds 400, with vehicles from the Jaguar Heritage and Vauxhall Heritage collections adding to those belonging to the Trust. The Mezzanine floor, opened by HRH Princess Anne, was added in 2007, followed just 8 years later by a whole new building - the Collections Centre – where the reserve collection is now accessible to the public.
It doesn’t stop there. The Museum has a number of aspirational plans for development over the next few years, from the addition of a hotel to a glass ‘wrap’ around the front of the building, and from an EV super hub to an apprentice academy.
Managing Director Jeff Coope said: “The history of Britain’s motoring industry is the heart and soul of the Museum, and our vision is ultimately to become the global focal point of all Britain’s automotive history and culture. The next 30 years are sure to bring as much, if not more change than the last 30 and we are really excited to be along for the ride.”
The Museum will be marking its anniversary later in the year with a week-long 30th Anniversary Celebration from 14-20 August.