Saturday, March 21, 2020

National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, UK

The National Motor Museum of the UK is situated at Beaulieu, the estate of the Montagu family. Beaulieu is located in the middle of the New Forest National Park, between Southampton and Bournemouth on the south coast of England.  

The estate comprises the manor house, the gardens, a monorail, the Abbey ruins, WW2 museum and the National Motor Museum.

The entry

The exhibition starts with a display of iconic British vehicles. We begin with an 1898 Ariel tricycle

1899 Fiat was an Italian built improvement on the Benz Victoria.

Austin Seven and Ford Popular

Lambretta C, Triumph and Morris.

Triumph motorcycle and Morris Minor

1875 Grenville Steam Car. This is the oldest surviving British built motor vehicle. It is still in operational order.

1897 Daimler Grafton Phaeton.

1895 Knight. John Henry Knight constructed this experimental motor car in 1895. It was originally built as a three wheeler but was improved with the addition of four wheels.

1886 Benz Patentwagen. Karl Benz had been working for years on lightweight petrol stationary engines for industry. He was also interested in bicycles and, with the help of a local bicycle-maker, put together this motorized tricycle. As it was an entirely new construction he was able to patent the vehicle, making this the first official automobile.

The Benz Wagen was powered by one of Karl Benz' petrol engines. It was slightly under one litre capacity and included several novel features, such as magneto ignition. Like a period steam engine, many of the moving parts were exposed so they could be lubricated in motion. Power was transmitted by belt to the final chain drive at the rear axle. One a few of these Type 1s were built before he progressed on towards more advanced and practical four wheeled vehicles.

1896 Pennington Autocar. Motoring simplicity in the veteran age. The frame was built by Humber, which would later become a car manufacturer. Only five of these unusual vehicles were built and this is the only known survivor.

1900 Royal Enfield Quadricycle and 1898 Renault Type A.

1898 Benz Velo. After Karl Benz' wife, Bertha took his Type 3 on a pioneering drive from Mannheim to Pforsheim in 1888, the lessons from that journey were incorporated into the next generation of Benz automobiles, such as the Velo and Victoria. Benz sold the rights to build versions of these models to many companies, from Star in England, to Nesseldorfer (later Tatra) in Austro-Hungary. It was the expansion of know how to other companies that represents the real beginning of the auto revolution.

1898 Renault Type A. Louis Renault, the younger scion of a French industrialist family, began work on a motor car in 1898 for his own personal use. The resulting vehicle featured a front mounted, single cylinder petrol engine and was capable of pottering around about 20 kilometres an hour. It was successful enough that people began asking Renault to build one for them. The family indulged Louis and allowed him more space and resources to continue working on his cars and over several years he produced several dozen more Type As. It was enough to establish Renault as a motoring pioneer within a decade Renault had become an important manufacturer.

There is a running example in Western Australia owned by classic motoring identity, Peter Briggs. The story of that car and its restoration is now available in this book:

1895 Daimler Cannstatt. Karl Benz' rival, Gottlieb Daimler and William Maybach unveiled their first motor vehicle only a few months after Benz' Patentmotorwagen. Unlike Benz, whose motor car was lightweight and constructed around bicycle technology, Daimler and Maybach fitted their engines into a traditional horse driven carriage. They were quite literally 'horseless carriages.'

1901 Columbia Electric. In the US, where electricity was plentiful, the electric motor seemed to offer much better advantages than the complex and temperamental petrol engine. Electric motors were quiet and easy to operate and maintain and, at that time, had comparable performance and range to a petrol motor. Dozens of electric car companies sprang into existence and for the years from 1900 to 1920 almost dominated the market for city cars and runabouts. However, as petrol engines improved over the years, electric cars began to fall behind and eventually disappearing by the mid-1920s.

1903 De Dion Bouton Model Q. In conservative Britain there was strong opposition to the motor vehicle and even high speed rail. The draconian Red Flag Act imposed a speed limit of 4 mph in towns and 2 mph in the country and required a man with a red flag to walk in front of the vehicle to warn pedestrians. Motoring however was very much a past-time of the extremely wealthy and lobbying from these powerful patrons resulted in these restrictions being overturned in 1896. The passing of this 'emancipation' legislation was celebrated with a race from London to Brighton, which has continued to this day.

This car has been in the ownership of the Montagu family since 1913 and was part of their original collection. It has been on display at the museum (originally in the manor house) since 1952.

1903 De Dietrich. By this period 'horseless carriages' have given way to a more traditional 'car' appearance. The luxurious De Dietrich (originally a French company in Alscae, but at this time part of Germany) built vehicles for the very well to do.

And speaking of very well to do - 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 40/50. The Silver Ghost is probably the most famous Rolls-Royce ever built. Production began in 1904, combining the impeccable engineering of Henry Royce, with the name and marketing pizazz of Sir Charles Rolls. The adventurous Rolls would shortly afterwards be killed in a flying accident, but the company went on building a name for outstanding engineering, luxury and a quiet, trouble free engine.

1903 Napier 'Gordon Bennett.' We're only five years from the horseless carriage era Benz and Daimlers and recognizable 'true' car styling has appeared. This 1903 is the oldest race car in Britain, having been built to compete in the Gordon Bennett Trophy. The Gordon Bennett Trophy race was run from 1900 to 1905 and sponsored by an American newspaper owner. The 1903 race was to be held in the UK, but authorities were concerned about the risks this would entail, so the race was moved to Ireland. The car did not perform well, crashing but fortunately without injuring the crew. It would race again in the Isle of Man, but crashed again.

1910 Lancia Corsa. Vincenzo Lancia had worked as a works driver for Fiat before establishing himself as an independent manufacturer. For the first few years he continued the tradition of motor racing and this 1910 Lancia was built solely as a competition car. However, he did not achieve much success so Lancia withdrew from motor racing to concentrate on developing technically advanced and innovative cars, like the Lancia Lambda of 1927.

The National Motoring Museum has an extremely good collection of veteran and vintage era cars. Here we see from left to right - 1910 Bugatti Type 15, 1908 Unic Taxi, 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.

1910 Bugatti Type 15.

1914 Sunbeam 12/16 HP.

1913 Argyll 15/30 HP.

1913 Vauxhall Type C Prince Henry. In the prewar period Vauxhall built prestige cars of exceptional quality. The Prince Henry series represent the pinnacle of this period. After the war, Vauxhall was incorporated into the General Motors Group and the company became a mass manufacturer.

1906 Renault 14/20 HP. These distinctive 'shovel nosed' Renaults were popular as Parisian taxis and gained lasting fame as the taxis who transported French troops to the Battle of the Marne in 1914, thwarting the German Schliffen Plan.

1906 Gobron -Brille Fire Engine. The French Gobron-Brille company was founded in 1898. This car was originally built as a chauffeur driven limousine but in 1910 was converted into a fire engine.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Ian Fleming of James Bond fame wrote the children's story about a magical flying car in 1964 and it was turned it a musical movie in 1968. The car was an entirely a concoction of the movie company although it was obviously built with parts from an Edwardian car. Six cars were built although only one was driveable.

Austin Seven Swallow.

American luxury - 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster.

Auburn's equally stunning stablemate, the 1937 Cord 810. Developed as a 'baby Deusenberg' it was released under the Cord brand. Strikingly original in its styling and filled with advanced features like retractable headlights.

The British post-war revival.

1951 Standard Vanguard. Modeled on the American Hudson, the Vanguard was a successful British car in the immediate post-war era. It sold well in Australia.

1952 Austin A90 Atlantic. The Atlantic was designed by Austin for the American market but without any real understanding of what the American market wanted. The car fell flat in the US so was pushed to the Commonwealth market. Austin went back to the drawing board and using the same engine, developed the Austin-Healey which became an enormous success.

1949 Jowett Javelin. Rather than dust off a pre-war car and updating it, Jowett developed the Javelin as a whole new design. The car was well in advance of contemporary British cars but unfortunately the cost of retooling the factory placed the company under severe financial pressure and the company folded in 1953.

1966 Ford Anglia.

1953 Volkswagen Beetle

1953 Reliant Regal. British budget motoring on three wheels.

Earlier Bond and Reliant cars had been powered by a motorcycle engine but the Regal was powered by a 747cc Austin Seven engine.

The world's smallest and most ridiculous vehicle ever made - the 1964 Peel.

1962 BMW Isetta.

Lambretta Li125

Brush Pony electric milk cart.

Garage scene - on the left a and on the right a 1924 Morris Cowley

1924 Trojan PB Utility. Trojan developed this versatile little budget car in the 1920s, which included a surprising number of innovative features, such as four wheel suspension and a four cylinder two-stroke engine mounted under the front seat.

1947 Reliant Tri-van.

1939 Harrods Electric Delivery Van. The Harrods Department Store purchased Walker Electric vans for its fleet of delivery vans in 1919. In the 1930s these replaced with a fleet of 65 electric vans designed and built in Harrods own workshops.

1938 Morris Eight.

Two iconic Jaguars - the Jaguar E-Type and Jaguar XK150

1914 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Alpine Eagle.

The racing section

View down on the Morgan Aero

1954 M & L Trials vehicle.

1955 Dellow MK II

1927 Morgan Aero and 1932 Fraser Nash Colmore

1956 Austin Healey 100M

1930s racers

1934 Bugatti Type 35 and 1935 Sunbeam 2 litre.

World Speed Record collection.

1920 Sunbeam 350HP 'Blue Bird'

1927 Sunbeam 1000MPH car.

1929 Irving Napier Golden Arrow Special

1960 Bluebird. The first car to break 400 mph.

The motorcycle collection


Left to right, Velocette Le and Ariel Leader

The scooter craze - BSA Sunbeam, Lambretta, Vespa and Durkopp.

1957 Lambretta LD 150. Lambretta came to dominate the scooter market in the UK because Piaggio outsourced production of the Vespa in the UK to Douglas.

Piaggio would immediately regret that decision as Douglas proved unable to produce the Vespa in sufficient numbers, opening the door for the Lambretta.

1957 Durkopp Diana. Like so many contemporary German scooters the Diana was solid, well engineered and capable of long distance touring. However, they were expensive compared to the Vespa and Lambretta and never big sellers outside their domestic market.

1930 Ascot-Pullin Utility Deluxe.

1937 Scott Flying Squirrel. Scott were an innovative company that introduced the motorcycling world to the kick start. Their outstanding bikes were powered by a water cooled two-cylinder two stroke motor.

1931 Ariel Four Square.

1919 Motor Pup. An early motor scooter.

Motorcycles of the 1910s were an eclectic mix. 1920 Wooler

1924 Peters 2 3/4 HP. Interesting cylinder head arrangement.

1913 Bat

Outside the museum a classic commercial vehicle club was having a meet. This is a Scammel heavy hauler.