Knowing about cars is one thing but seeing the cars in the flesh is something else. Fortunately for us motorheads in the UK, we are really spoilt for choice as the country is home to some of the world’s best car museums.
From national motor museums to classic car museums, these attractions display old and new models and with a variety of fun activities the museums are perfect for the whole family to visit.
Here we take you through the top car museums across the UK and we’ll run-down some of the highlights and the locations for each attraction.
Haynes International Motor Museum
The Haynes International Motor Museum is the UK’s largest collection of cars from around the world with a staggering 400 plus cars and motorbikes on show. The bikes and cars date back as far as the late 1800s, through the 1950s and 60s with Ford cars, Bentleys, Rolls Royces and Jaguar supercars all on display.
There are 19 different exhibitions that you can browse through and there are talks, tours and special family activities that you can enjoy during your visit.
A spokesperson from the museum told us that the array of cars on display and these tours will intrigue car enthusiasts.
“The breadth and variety of cars and motorbikes on display is second to none. Starting right at the dawn of motoring with the Benz Patent Motorwagon through to modern day supercars and Formula 1 cars, the Museum’s Collection is a true representation of motoring history. The Collection includes a huge range of international marques as well as the very best of British! The Collections Department and dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer team run regular talks and tours sharing their passion and knowledge of motoring history.”
What’s more, the museum runs a number of special events throughout the year such as the Brotherwood Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Weekend, a festival where people can explore the UK’s leading wheelchair accessible vehicles. Those with mobility problems can discuss their personal needs with expert advisors at the show and they can suggest schemes like Ford Mobility, which offers the best brand-new Ford cars for drivers with disabilities. Our experts at Foray can talk you through everything you need to know about this scheme.
British Motor Museum
Location: Gaydon, Warwickshire
The British Motor Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of historic British cars, over 400 in all, from the very first Land Rover to Lady Penelope’s FAB1.
During your visit, you can experience the sights, sounds and stories of the British motor industry and get ‘under the skin’ with the interactive exhibits. You can take a walk down the 'Time Road' and discover how motoring and family life has changed through the decades as the cars are brought to life by costumed guides or join one of the free guided tours that are available.
Enjoy dedicated zones on Motorsport, Design & Concepts, Jaguar, Land Rover and film cars. Travel through 'Making British Cars' and see how influential the motor industry has been over the years and where it is heading in the future.
Penny Tyler, the Marketing Executive for the British Motor Museum, tells us why you should visit the museum.
“We have a wealth of cars to discover, covering all British marques and models from the 1900's to the present day. You can get up close to the cars, they are not roped off, so you can peer in through the windows and inspect them at close quarters.
“We have enthusiast car shows most weekends throughout the summer, including the Old Ford Rally which sees hundreds of vintage and classic Fords gather for a day of all things, Ford!”
You can also get a ‘behind the scenes’ insight into how the museum stores and preserves its vehicles in the new Collections Centre as well as enjoy the onsite café serving hot and cold meals and snacks, an outdoor play area, and free parking.
Lakeland Motor Museum
Location: Backbarrow, Cumbria
The museum has over 30,000 exhibits on display ranging from pre-1900 through to the modern day including cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedal cars, petrol pumps, petrol globes, automobilia, local history, shop window recreations containing fashions of days gone by, toy shops and more.
The Campbell Bluebird exhibition is a must-visit as it contains full-size replicas of the K4 and K7 boats Malcolm and Donald used in order to break water speed records as well as a replica car used for breaking land speed records.
The Lakeland Museum also runs a discounted combined ticketing system with Windermere Lake Cruises and Lakeside Haverthwaite Railway to make a full day for visitors where you can ride on a steam train and also take a lake cruise to Bowness or Ambleside using the free shuttle bus.
Beaulieu National Motor Museum
Location: Brockenhurst, Hampshire
One of the most famous car museums in the UK is Beaulieu and if you’re a motoring fan you will have undoubtedly heard of this museum before.
Packed full of history, the museum boasts more than 250 historic cars and bikes that take you all the way through the history of British motoring.
Visitors can not only access the museum where all the cars are but can also get entry into the famous Victorian Palace House and the surrounding gardens and grounds at the museum’s location in Brockenhurst.
Some of the most iconic exhibitions at the museum display cars that have broken records and others that have starred in movies. There are also racing cars that have competed in Formula 1 and rallying.
Location: Weybridge, Surrey
Here is where motorsport in the UK all began and the Brooklands Museum is home to the world’s first-ever purpose-built racing circuit.
The museum pays homage to this iconic history and its exhibitions display British engineering and technology throughout the 20th century. Cars on display include the Napier-Railton, an Aston Martin Halford Special and an Alvis Front Wheel Drive to name just a few.
There are exhibitions dedicated to other means of transport with a Concorde exhibit, an air factory, an F1 Simulator, a 4D theatre and a stratosphere chamber too.
On Your Marques Model Car Museum
Location: Alford, Lincolnshire
On Your Marques Model Car Museum is a family-friendly attraction and whilst there aren’t full-size cars here, it is full of model cars that can take you back to your childhood.
There are slot cars and more than 4,500 other models on display at this fascinating museum. One of the highlights of the museum is the 45 metres long Scalextric track where you can get up-close and have some fun on it.
The model vehicles and motor racing memorabilia cover all aspects of the motoring industry such as the world of Formula 1, Rallying, GT Racing, Supercars, Indycar and more.
Image Credit: British Motor Museum, Glen Bowman (flickr.com)