Inside the British Motor Museum’s £4m storage unit

Inside the British Motor Museum’s £4m storage unit

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon has always been a ‘must-do’ day out for car enthusiasts in the UK. It was renamed in 2016 (formerly it was known as the Heritage Motor Centre), following an epic £1million refurbishment.

Alongside the refurb, a new building, called the Collection Centre, opened. This is where all the excess cars from the museum – more than 300 of them – are stored, with guided tours open to the public.

The Collections Centre

The Collections Centre is located next to the current museum. It was funded by a £1.4million lottery grant – as well as gifts from Jaguar Land Rover and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Triumph Acclaim

The majority of the cars in the centre are British – with many being significant as the first or last examples of their breed. The Triumph Acclaim pictured here is the last to roll off the production line, while next to it is the first ever Rover 800.

Austin Allegro

This is the last ever Austin Allegro, built in 1982, next to one of the last ever MGBs.

Rover 100

As you may guess from the number plate, this is the last ever Rover 100. It’s signed by every member of staff who worked on it.

Austin Montego

You’ll never guess what’s significant about this Montego…

Austin Metro Notchback

Yes, that really is an Austin Metro saloon, affectionately known as the ‘Notchback’. It was axed fairly early in its development – and the relatively poor sales of the Vauxhall Nova saloon and Volkswagen Derby suggest British Leyland made the right move. For once.

Triplex 10/20 Glassback

This peculiar thing is based on an Austin Princess. Unveiled at the 1978 British Motor Show, it was a showcase for the new Triplex 10/20 toughened glass windscreen.

Triumph SD2

The Triumph SD2 was conceived as an upmarket replacement for the Dolomite, intended to complement the popular SD1. Unfortunately, in true British Leyland fashion, financial difficulties meant the SD2 never made it into production.

Triumph Dolomite Michelotti

What a handsome thing this is… this Triumph Dolomite is a one-off prototype fitted with an experimental Michelotti design body.

Morris Oxford MO

It’s not all peculiar British Leyland prototypes. This 1952 Morris Oxford MO is a particularly tidy example and appeared in an episode of Agatha Christie’s Marple.

Riley Elf

The Riley Elf, pictured here in the foreground, was launched in 1961 as a more luxurious, upmarket version of the Mini. It featured a traditional design and a larger boot, giving it more practicality.

Mini Cord

This 1992 Mini Cord was built in Venezuela with a plastic body. It was made for the South American market, using engines exported from the UK.

Mini Moke

In an attempt to rival Land Rover as a builder of lightweight military vehicles, British Motor Corporation penned the Mini Moke. It wasn’t a success, but was offered as an affordable civilian runaround. This example, along with around 10,000 others, was built in Portugal.

Vanden Plas Princess

As if this car didn’t have an identity crisis already – in a bid to take it upmarket, British Leyland marketed it simply as the Princess, following a short stint being offered as the Austin/Morris/Wolseley 18-22 series. It was meant to compete with the likes of the Ford Granada and Rover SD1 – but an even more upmarket Vanden Plas version, pictured here, never made it to market.


This is one of the last MGBs to be produced at British Leyland’s Abingdon factory, before it was closed down for good in 1980. It’s since been converted into flats.

Austin AR6

The Austin AR6 prototype was a design concept intended to replace the Metro. It was created under the lead of design chief Roy Axe, but later shelved by British Leyland for being ‘too futuristic’.

Metro MGF prototype

This might look like a pretty ropey Metro van – but what if we told you it was mid-engined and rear-wheel drive? The Metro houses the insides of the new-at-the-time MGF, and was used for testing without attracting unwanted attention from spy photographers.

Jaguar E-Type

Made in 1969, this Jaguar E-Type Roadster is one of the first Series Two models to be built at the firm’s Browns Lane plant in Coventry. If you like Jaguars, we’ve got plenty more to come…

Land Rovers

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true British car collection without a line-up of Land Rovers. Highlights here include this 1949 Series I Tickford station wagon.

Royal Land Rover

This 1953 Land Rover Series I, finished in Royal Claret, was the first royal Land Rover. It was used by the Queen for more than 20 years, and joined her on her six-month Commonwealth tour.

Land Rover Defender SVX concept

The Land Rover Defender SVX concept was first revealed at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show. It was the result of engineers being challenged with making the Defender as good off-road as possible – with bespoke wheels and tyres, and a sump guard replacing the front bumper.

First Land Rover Freelander

When the Freelander was first launched in 1997, some weren’t sure if it was the right direction for Land Rover. It was more car-like than anything Land Rover had produced before, and used an electronic hill-descent control system rather than a low-range gearbox. It went on to be a huge success, however, becoming Europe’s best-selling 4×4. This was the first one to be produced, signed by all the workers.


With so many important vehicles on display, the Collections Centre has its own workshop to keep them in shape. Head of collections Tim Bryan told us: “We try to keep our cars well maintained. Obviously we don’t want to fully restore them as we like them to be fairly original.”

Jaguar Heritage Trust

When the Jaguar Heritage Trust lost its Browns Lane museum in Coventry, the Heritage Motor Centre agreed to store its collection. Some of it remains in the museum, but the rest of it now lives on the ground floor of the new Collections Centre.

Jaguar XJR9

There’s a wide variety of important Jaguars in the collection – from this Le Mans-winning XJR9 to the last XJ40 ever built.

Jaguar XK8

This might look like the Jaguar XK8 convertible used in the Austin Powers film Goldmember, but it’s actually a replica. It started off its life as a press car, before being repainted in Union Jack colours.

Race cars

It’s not just rare prototypes on display. These two race cars both have quite a story to tell – the V12 E-Type Series 3 on the left claiming no fewer than five victories in the Class B production car championship of the Sports Car Club of America, while the success of the 1983 XJ-S TWR racing car on the right encouraged the company to enter Le Mans.

Daimler 3½ litre Sportsman

Designed and made by Mulliner in Birmingham, the Daimler Sportsman was based on the second-generation Daimler Regency. It was powered by a ‘high-efficiency’ 3.5-litre engine.

James Bond Jaguar XKR

Of course, James Bond wouldn’t be James Bond without modified British cars. This XKR featured in Die Another Day and was driven by the villain rather than Bond himself. It featured a Gatling gun mounted centrally behind the seats, while further armaments included missiles fired through the front grille, rocket launchers in the doors and mortar bombs in the boot.

1933 SSl 16hp Tourer and 1938 SS Jaguar 100 2½ litre

The 1933 SSl 16hp Tourer pictured here on the left is one of just 13 known survivors – supplied new by Henlys of London. On the right is a 1938 SS Jaguar 100 2½ litre, one of the first cars to carry the Jaguar name.

Queen Mother’s Jaguar Mark VII M saloon

This 1955 Jaguar Mark VII M saloon, pictured on the left, was owned by the Queen’s Mother from new until 1973. During this time it was upgraded by Jaguar a number of times, and it was painted in a special metallic claret.

Jaguar E-Type S2

This 1969 Jaguar E-Type was one of just 776 open two-seaters with right-hand drive built between August 1968 and August 1970 – many more were built as left-hand drive. It was owned by an enthusiast from 1974, who then donated it to the Trust in 2001.

Jaguar XJ220 concept

We end with a corker of a car – the original Jaguar XJ220 concept. It was never intended to be a production car, instead showing off the firm’s abilities. It featured a mid-engined, all-wheel-drive layout, along with a V12 engine – capable, allegedly, of hitting 220mph. Demand was so high that a limited number were put into production, but using a V6 engine and rear-wheel-drive layout.

>NEXT: God would drive an Allegro VDP says Beta Band singer

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