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A great battle developed around 1930 to produce the first hundred pound car. Morris won the race, with the Morris Minor in 1931. To meet the magic hundred pound target, the car was very basic. Sold without bumpers or chrome fittings, this open two-seater had a three-lamp lighting set. Offering an economical 50mpg, the Minor was Morris's challenge to the Austin 7. In 1935, Ford cut the price of its Model Y saloon (the first all-British Ford) to one hundred pounds, making it the first full sized saloon to be sold at that price in the UK.
The £100 Ford and the £100 Morris are both represented in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.
Motor racing came into being very soon after the invention of the car. The first races took place on public roads in France, but this soon became too dangerous. By 1908, racing cars were powered by engines of up to 20 litres, capable of 90mph/144.84kph.
Napier was the first British constructor to build cars especially for motor racing. The company competed in the Gordon Bennett Races, and one of their 1903 entries can be seen in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.
The first Grand Prix was held in 1906 on a circuit near Le Mans in France. During the mid 1920s, power output from competing cars doubled and speeds of 130mph/209.21kph were possible. Great teams of the time were Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Sunbeam, Delage and Bugatti. By the 1930s, Mercedes and Auto Unions from Germany, capable of 200mph/321.87kph, were dominating the sport.
Racing car design was revolutionised in the 1950s and 1960s through successful British teams like Cooper and Lotus. The World Championship began in 1950, and since then drivers have become the focus of public attention. British legends include Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss and Graham Hill. The National Motor Museum’s Lotus 49 was driven by Graham Hill during the 1967 season. This model introduced the legendary Ford-Cosworth DFV (Double Four Valve) engine to Formula One racing.
Grand Prix racing is now an incredibly expensive sport, and changes in regulations present challenges to the car designers. More recent racing is represented at the National Motor Museum by cars such as Damon Hill’s 1996 Williams-Renault FW-18 and the McLaren MP4/13 – Mercedes of 1998.
Rallying as we know it today grew out of the sport of trials and developed rapidly from 1950 onwards. Special stages on loose road surfaces were introduced. Endurance became increasingly important and more specialised vehicles appeared. The fastest production cars were no longer necessarily rally winners.
The Ford Escort was one of the most successful competition cars ever built. It scored its first international rally success in 1968, and remained highly competitive until the early 1980s. In 1981, Ari Vatanen drove an Escort to second place in the Lombard RAC Rally, and clinched the drivers' World Rally Championship. The car he drove can be seen in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. Rallying changed dramatically with the introduction of the four-wheel drive Audi Quattro. Four-wheel drive gave great advantages on forest stages and the Quattro became the first such car to win a World Championship rally.
Spain’s Sebastian Loeb drove the Citroen Xsara WRC to victory in the 2004 World Rally Championship setting a new world record for the number of Championship wins.
To achieve a World Land Speed Record, a car must be driven through a measured mile, turn around, refuel and return along the mile within one hour. The final speed figure is the average of the two runs, as timed by officials.
The first record was set in 1898 by Chasseloup-Laubat, who drove a Jeantaud electric car at 39.24mph/63.15kph. As speeds increased, record attempts outgrew ordinary roads and race tracks, transfering to long beaches and huge desert salt plains. Popular venues included Pendine Sands in South Wales, Daytona Beach in Florida and Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA.
Some of the most famous World Land Speed Record cars can be seen in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. These include the 1920 and 1927 Sunbeams, 1929 Golden Arrow and 1960 Bluebird.
The 1920 350hp Sunbeam introduced a new era of aero-engined record-breaking cars. First raced at Brooklands in 1920, two years later it took Kenelm Lee Guinness to a new World Record of 129.171mph/207.880kph on the same track. Malcolm Campbell later purchased the car and went on to set records of 146.16mph/235.22kph and 150.766mph/242.634kph at Pendine Sands in 1924 and 1925, respectively.
Driven by Major Henry Segrave at Daytona Beach, the 1927 1000hp Sunbeam was the first car to officially exceed 200mph/321.87kph. Two years later Segrave returned to Daytona with the Golden Arrow designed by Captain J.S. Irving to achieve a new record of 231.362mph/372.341kph. During the 1920s and 1930s the record was contested regularly, mainly by Britains and Americans.
Driving the 4100bhp jet-powered Bluebird, Donald Campbell successfully exceeded 400mph/643kph in 1964 at Lake Eyre, South Australia.
Electric, steam and petrol engines have all achieved record speeds, but the 1960s space flight programme introduced rocket power. In 1970, Gary Gabelich, a trained astronaut, drove Blue Flame to a new record of 622.407mph/1001.667kph. Thirteen years later jet power retook the record for Britain when Richard Noble's Thrust 2 achieved 633.468mph/1019.467kph. In 1997 Noble and his team broke the record again, when Andy Green drove Thrust SCC through the sound barrier at 763.035mph/1227.986kph.
People thought about motorcycles long before they became the practical form of transport they are today. A French cartoon of the imaginary steam Velocipedraisiavaporianna appeared in 1818, 50 years before the first steam-powered motorcycle was produced. Gottlieb Daimler's prototype engine was tested in a wooden two-wheeled frame before the seat caught fire.
After Hildebrand and Wolfmuller's first production petrol motorcycle of 1894, various combinations and arrangements of engines, pedals, wheels and seating were tried out. Many were bizarre and relatively unsafe. Some manufacturers produced clip-on trailers to carry unfortunate passengers in just the right place to breathe exhaust fumes. These unsatisfactory variations disappeared in 1902 with the invention of the sidecar by Mills and Fullford. Initially made of light-weight wicker and described as 'the coldest place on earth', weather protection improved after 1910 and motorcycles with sidecars became popular family transport.
From the early days to the mid 1960s, British motorcycles such as the Brough Superior, Norton, Sunbeam and Royal Enfield were class leaders. As car ownership widened, the family transport function of the motorcycle declined. Instead, they became aspirations of Britain’s youth and stimulated the divergence of social groupings like the Mods and Rockers. The former favoured the Italian-made Vespa and Lambretta scooters, whilst the latter preferred the bigger motorcycles of BSA, Norton and Triumph. The American Harley-Davidson still enjoys cult status.
It was also during the 1960s that Japanese motorcycles started to make an impact. The Honda C50 provided cheap and practical personal transport, heralding the start of a Japanese motorcycling revolution.
Throughout motorcycling history, sport has played an important part in development and technical innovation. Tourist Trophy and Grand Prix racing, trials, speedway and sprinting have produced very specialised machines like the Norton International, Ariel HT5 and Rotrax Jap. Many of these machines have influenced road bike design.
A collection of over 100 motorcycles are on permanent display in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.
Early in motoring history, design of road cars and racing cars diverged. Road cars became comfortable and reliable. Racing cars housed large engines in light bodies and comfort was not a priority. Gradually, fast touring cars evolved to fill the gap between these two extremes.
During the 1920s, typical two-seater sports cars were low slung machines with long bonnets and flared wings. They had direct steering and gave a firm ride. From the late 1940s, sports cars generally adopted more streamlined shapes that were internationally acceptable. Popularity waned as American safety legislation destroyed the vital export market, and safety concerns also reduced home sales. Meanwhile, the performance of family saloon cars improved rapidly. As European manufacturers withdrew, Japanese companies invested heavily in production of sports cars for America. Those in Britain who longed for the rakish lines of a classic sports car turned to the developing kit car market. Today, foreign firms like Honda and Mazda still produce value for money sports cars as well as more conventional saloon cars. Specialist companies such as Morgan and Caterham continue the tradition for British built sports cars.
Many examples of sports cars of all ages can be seen in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, from a 1927 Morgan Aero Sports to a 1970 TVR Vixen S3.
Some of the early British car makers produced only a limited number of vehicles. A number flourished in the 1920s, only to be swept away during the world-wide slump of 1929–1934, which made them prey to larger firms or forced them into bankruptcy. A few, like Rover survived to become household names.
Bean built cars during the 1920s. Initially they produced a light car based on an earlier design, but this was never entirely satisfactory. In 1924 they produced a more modern vehicle, the 2385cc Fourteen, an example of which is in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. The competition was introducing new ideas very rapidly, but Bean's attempts at innovation were less successful.
AC produced cars from 1908, always on a comparatively small scale. The company was heavily involved in racing, endurance and record attempts during the 1920s. Despite intermittent financial problems, AC continued to produce interesting sports cars, of which the legendary Cobra of 1963 was perhaps the pinnacle of their achievement. A 1965 AC Shelby 427 Cobra is represented at the National Motor Museum.
Morgan began production of three-wheelers in 1910 and became pre-eminent in the field. Light weight and reasonable power gave these little vehicles good performance and their road holding ability in four-wheel form was excellent. Morgan have survived, with extremely traditional designs, to become one of the few manufacturers who have a waiting list for customers.
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Would you like to see more of our collections available digitally? The Trust is carrying out a survey to find out which Collections you would like to see available in a digital format.
The National Motor Museum features a dedicated caravanning area which includes the miniature Royal Caravan, a 1926 Eccles caravan and a 1964 Commer Auto-Sleeper motor caravan. These vans are displayed alongside a selection of memorabilia from The Caravan Club Collection.
You can also see a variety of Club material by visiting our Caravan Road Rallying online exhibition.
carnival, celebrations etc
The Photographic Collection at the National Motor Museum contains over one million images. It illustrates the history of motoring from the earliest steam cars of the 19th century to new models being launched today. Coverage includes cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles, the motor industry, motor sport, the social history of motoring, pioneers and a wide range of motoring and motor sport personalities. This Collection is currently being catalogued and preserved by a team of volunteers led by the Curator of Photography.
The roots of the Photographic Collection can be traced back to 1962, when Lord Montagu of Beaulieu originally set it up. From 1972 the National Motor Museum Trust continued to expand this remarkable resource, and it continues to grow. The Collection develops through enthusiastic collecting by staff, donations from the public and contemporary images produced by the Trust’s own photographer. It comprises photographic prints, photograph albums, glass and film negatives, lantern slides and transparencies, which are cared for by the Curator of Photography assisted by a team of highly trained volunteers. The original images were created by motor manufacturing companies and private enthusiasts, and include work by both amateur and professional photographers. If you would like to visit the Photographic Collection for research purposes, an appointment can be made through our Motoring Research Service.
The Reading Room provides an environment where researchers can browseÂ display binders ofÂ Photographic Collection prints. Please note that an appointment must be made to view the binders and that the same conditions apply as for visiting the Reference Library.** Link to booking form will appear here**
Images from the National Motor Museum Trust Photographic Collection are also available to commerical and private individuals through our on-line C
For more details contact Jon Day the Motoring Picture Library Manager or visit our dedicated Motoring Picture Library website
The very first leisure touring caravan The Wanderer was designed and commissioned in 1885 by Scottish born doctor and author William Gordon Stables (1837–1910). This horse-drawn Land Yacht was inspired by traditional Romany caravans and built by the Bristol Wagon Works Company.
The Wanderer was seen as quite a novelty on its first 1300 mile trip from Twyford in Berkshire to Inverness in Scotland.
Caravanning soon became popular among the wealthy who owned luxurious horse-drawn caravans and often took servants on tour with them. In 1907 a group of eleven enthusiasts met to form The Caravan Club of Great Britain and Ireland.
In 1919 Eccles became the first company to mass produce smaller, lighter and more affordable caravans. These vans could be towed by the increasingly popular motor car. Caravanning became more popular in Britain.
By the 1960s caravanning had reached its golden age. In this decade the output of new cars more than doubled which also led to the boom in caravan manufacture. In 1957 around 18,000 new caravans were registered in the UK, by the end of the 1960s this number had risen to 53,000.
In particular, the manufacturer Caravans International was unrivalled in its output. In the early 1970s the company produced 35,000 touring caravans a year, a number greater than the total UK output of new vans in 2008.
In the early 20th century few people owned a motor car and travel was often expensive. A day trip to the countryside was rare. The charabanc enabled the working population to travel to a countryside beauty spot or stately home.
Day trippers would often take a packed lunch to enjoy at their country destination and picnic hampers for motorists were introduced. First made popular by Queen Victoria and her family, picnics soon became a favourite of the travelling masses.
By the late 1930s there were numerous express bus services. Speedy travel could now be taken around Britain including destinations like London. Day trips to the capital city enabled visitors to see the sites from the iconic red bus.
In 1958 the first motorway was built. Day trippers could now travel even longer distances in a shorter time by motor car or coach. Gradually more of the UK became accessible for great day out.
Grand tours of Europe were traditionally taken by young aristocratic gentlemen. Motoring pioneer John, 2nd Lord Montagu of Beaulieu (1866-1929), continued this custom by travelling to France, Switzerland, Austria and even India (1922) and the Middle East (1927) by motor car.
European tours were well planned. Suitable petrol and spare parts were hard to find in Europe and had to be carried on tour or pre-ordered before setting off. As motoring became more popular, European travel was made easier by the more ready availability of fuel and spares.
Motoring to Europe was revolutionised by the late 1930s with the introduction of the Dover to Calais cross channel ferry, where cars could be craned onto the ship. In 1953 ‘drive on’ ferry terminals were opened at the same ports, making continental travel even simpler.
In 1994 the opening of the channel tunnel offered an even speedier way to transport cars to Europe.
The roots of motor sport can be traced back to the 1890s. The very first organised motor car races took place on the roads between French towns. These races soon evolved into long distance races between cities such as Paris to Vienna. Technical progression saw cars get faster and faster but there was little provision for safety. As the races passed through towns and villages there were often collisions involving the viewing public.
Due to the danger associated with races on public roads, they have always been illegal on mainland Britain. However, hill climbs and speed events were allowed on closed roads.
In order to promote motor racing and the British motor industry, wealthy industrialist Hugh Locke-King constructed the massive Brooklands circuit on private land in Surrey. Racing began in 1908 and, just like horse-racing events, bookies took bets on the drivers. Protected seating was available for 5,000 with standing room for up to a quarter of a million spectators. However, early race meetings only attracted crowds of around 5,000 earning the slogan ‘The right crowd with no crowding’.
For many years Brooklands was the only motor sport venue in mainland Britain and many enthusiasts flocked to meetings in the Isle of Man and Ireland where road racing was permitted. From 1907 the Isle of Man was the venue for the annual TT motorcycle races, with riders risking their lives on the island’s demanding roads. In 1933 a second purpose built road-racing circuit was finally built at Donington Park near Derby.
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