Sometimes mottos are over-exaggerated. Unecessary claims are made about how grand something is.
Beaulieu has been one of those places that we have wanted to visit for a long time. It has a reputation of being one of the top car museums in the world. We discovered that Beaulieu definitely lives up to its motto…it is much more than a motor museum.
With its Abbey ruins and Chapel house the whole complex lies in one of the pretiest villages in the New Forest area of England. Not only does Bealieu musueum contain cars with calibre, it also importantly tells the social and historical narrative about the impact of the car on our lives.
In our world of high power and efficiency its important to not loose sight of where we have come from.
You shouldn’t dismiss cars for simply being old. What was initially an experiment has changed the way we live and societies function. Beaulieu puts a lot of emphasis on the Automotive pioneers.
One man’s passion has ensured the legacy of Beaulieu will continue for generations to come. John (the second) Lord Monatgue of Beaulie (1866-1929) inspired the foundations of this brilliant musuem. His son, the third Lord Montagu opened the collection as a tribute to his father, a pioneer of motoring in the UK.
Established in 1952, it serves as a memorial to the achievements on the behalf of motorists and the once prosperous and innovative British motor industry.
When first opened by the 3rd Baron Montagu Of Beaulieu the museum had only five cars. The number of exhibits expanded rapidly, was relocated and by 1964 over half a million car-lovers were visiting every year.
The best of British, exotics and classics are all displayed here and its all thanks to one man’s vision.
The 1920’s-1930’s street scene was period correct adorned with signage and superb details.
This 1899 Daimler 12hp was bought new by Lord Montagu’s father: it was the first car to enter the House Of Commons Yard at Parliament in London and the first British entry into a overseas race (the arduous Paris-Ostend trial, where it came third in the Tourist class). The 3,053cc, 4-cylinder engine produced a slight top speed of around 30mph.
One of the brightest car stars of the big screen. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from 1968, is one of six versions built for the memorable classic.
Every car at Beaulieu tells its story in an automotive timeline.
Being the national Motor Museum there is a strong emphasis on British vehicles. Here a proper Mini sits alongside a 1960 Triumph Herald saloon.
Coachbuilt elegance of a bygone age.
Intimidating presence of this 1930 Bentley 4 1/2 litre. Noticed something missing? A sign that this Bentley is driven, the screaming supercharger was undergoing a rebuild.
A vintage patina.
One of 168, this 1970 TVR Vixen S3 looked very original. Like so many British marques, what a shame it was that TVR had to shut its doors on manufacturing a couple of years ago.
Bikes also featured prominently at Beaulieu
American glamour oozes from this 1935 Auburn 851.
Technically advanced and utterly beautiful, this car was personally tested to exceed 100mph by record driver AB Jenkins.
The supercharged Auburn was all art deco with a unique rear boat tail.
The Bugatti Type 35- A true champion.
Mike Hawthorn won the Ulster Trophy race in this 1936 Riley 1.5 litre TT Sprite.
The chassis was later restored by him in 1959 shortly before his death.
Of the same make, this Falcon epitomises saloon cars of the thirties.
A real gentleman’s cockpit inside this BRM Type 15.
A classic line up of pre-war saloons.
A highlight was seeing some standout F1 machinery in the flesh.
True legends in all their glory.
This 2006 McLaren MP4-21 was the first of the V8 2.4 litre F1 machines. It was displayed in 2010 Jenson Button livery.
The functional cockpit of a 1994 McLaren Peugeot MP4/9. This is chassis number 4 which competed in all but three of the sixteen races that year. Its best results were second places for Martin Brundle in Monaco and Mikka Häkkinen in Belgium. .
Added to the collection in 1985, this is one of 12 Lotus 49s ever built: only seven remain today. Chassis R3 is the sole surviving car from the 1967 season: it was built-up overnight for Graham Hill on the eve of the British Grand Prix that year.
Between 1967 and 1970 this formidable machine took 12 wins and gave Lotus two drivers’ and constructors’ World Championships.
The 1970 Tyrrell-Ford 001 was Tyrrell Racing’s first self-produced car after splitting from the French Matra chassis. Jackie Stewart, winner in ’69, drove this car 001 in three races towards the conclusion of the 1970 season, however it suffered from mechanical failures in all events.
The 001 used a Ford Cosworth DFV (Double Four Valve) 90-degree V8.
The uncluttered design of this 1996 Williams Renault FW18 reminded us of how good no-fuss F1 cars can look.
This car was used as a test car by Damon Hill. It was also the car in which Jacques Villeneuve made his successful debut.
The Jaguar XJR-8 was raised high on a platform and unfortunately was hard to capture. In 1987 the model took on the World Sportscar Championship and smashed its rivals. Raul Boesel won at Silverstone, Brands Hatch, the Nurburgring and Spa claiming the WSC Drivers’ title. Another four of the ten rounds that year were also won by an XJR-8, giving them the Team’s title.
The land speed records display highlighted British success in attempting these daring feets. It all started with the Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Sunbeam 350hp- better known as ‘Bluebird’.The record-breaking car, which uses a traditional reached 146.16mph at Pendine Sands, a seven-mile stretch of beach at Carmarthen Bay, Wales in June 1924. A year later Bluebird hit 150.76mph which made Campbell the first person to break the 150mph barrier on land.
The presence of these speed machines is incredible. True record breakers, they were built with one goal to break the speed barrier.
The 1927 1000hp Sunbeam. With Major Henry Seagrave behind the wheel it was the first care to reach 200mph.
With a bit of marketing over-exaggeration, power was actually closer to 900hp from its two 22.5 litre V12 aero engines.
This golden batmobile captures the imagination of young and old. The Irving Napier Special, better known as the ‘Golden Arrow’ of 1929 is one of the exhibits that really grabs your attention. Power came from a Napier W12 Lion Aero engine used in Submarine Seaplanes. On the 11th March 1929 this mighty machine broke the speed record with a speed of 231.446mph, exceeding the previous record by 24mph.
There is an Aussie connection with the aerodynamic and free-flowing lines of the 1960 Proteus Bluebird CN7. This photogenic beast was the first car to reach in excess of 400mph and the last to be wheel driven. Despite many failed attempts, including a serious crash, Donald Campbell achieved this feet on the 17th May 1964 reaching a mind-bending 403.10mph at Lake Eyre, South Australia.
At Beaulieu, every period in the motoring narrative was covered.
A rally legend if ever there was one. This 1983 Quattro A2 has had great success in rallies in the far east piloted by Stig Blomqvist. Later victories included wins in the Hong Kong to Beijing rallies in 85 and 86.
Ari Vatenen drove this 2-litre, 255bhp RS to victory in the Acropolis, Brazil and 1000 Lakes rallies, plus finished second in the British RAC round. The result was 1981 World Champion.
Recognise this famous livery? Ofcourse it’s JPS.
This is one of 100 1973 Lotus Europa’s in this special edition and iconic livery to celebrate the lotus F1 World Championship success of 1972.
One of our favourite modern classics. This ’86 RS Cosworth was standard in appearance but has a BRB racing fettled engine capable of 280bhp. The RS’s initial run was 5000 to comply with group A Homologation, 6021 were actually produced.
Size does matter with this eye catching top fuel dragster.
1964 Peel P50. Check out our past content for more on the Peel Story.
There’s something about an original Land Rover- undeniable nobility and purposefulness. Being the forth pre-production example built this Landy is one of the oldest surviving in the world.
This makes your realise the impact of the war on everyday life including motorists.
Now highly sought-after, 204,279 wood-framed Moris Minor Travellers were built by Austin-Morris in Oxford.
Yes…it is true. Beaulieu is much more than a Motor Museum.
Please stay tuned to Driven threads- shortly we will be bringing you coverage of the Spring Autojumble from the grounds of Beaulieu.
With ever rotating displays…we just might need to pay Beaulieu another visit.
We hope you have enjoyed our coverage of Bealieu Motor Museum. Thanks so much for reading.