Weekend at Beaulieu:- The Museum. Part 1- Cars.

DSC_6865 I’ve just spent the past weekend in the company of a great many bearded men from all over Europe (and beyond) who had flocked to Southern England for a world-famous motoring event. It’s called the Beaulieu Autojumble, and you may have heard of it. It’s a mecca for those vintage car enthusiasts who have been searching in vain for Darracq doors or a Delahaye differential. Let’s start by introducing the home of this annual pilgrimage; Great Britain’s foremost car museum. Welcome to Beaulieu. Some education, courtesy of Wikipedia: “The museum was founded in 1952 by Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, as a tribute to his father, who was one of the great pioneers of motoring in the United Kingdom, being the first person to drive a motor car into the yard of the Houses Of Parliament, and having introduced King Edward VII (then the Prince Of Waes) to motoring during the 1890s.” So now you know. From the front door to the exit, the museum takes you on a chronological tour of motoring through the ages; with every era represented and several extremely rare (if not actually unique) machines appearing on the way. I think the best thing to do here is to go ahead with a photo-bombing of the exhibits that particularly caught my eye. DSC_6851 Royal Enfield quadricycle. For best effect, the passengers (at the front) should be carrying Royal Enfield rifles. I’d love to see Enfield return to the four-wheeler market 120 years on. Wouldn’t that  be fun? DSC_6859 Pennington Autocar. This is a properly mental conveyance. Dating from 1896, this was envisaged as a four seater (the rearmost seat is set aside for the driver, except driver feels like the wrong word) even though the advertising apparently boasted that up to nine people could be accommodated. Madness. DSC_6873 Vauxhall Prince Henry. There was a time when Vauxhall, a company who lost their individuality eons ago when GM took the helm, built handsome, dashing sports car. The Prince Henry was a wonderful looking machine with, for the day, a serious turn of speed. DSC_6866 We all know the. Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. This 1909 example was restored after at some point being converted into a breakdown recovery truck, or wrecker as colonial types refer to them. DSC_6871 The Bugatti Type 15, the second oldest Bugatti surviving…. In The World. DSC_6870 Check out the Ettore Bugatti rocker cover. DSC_6884 Mercedes 36/220 1928, once owned by Peter Ustinov, and exactly the kind of raffish, caddish kind of machine that you’d expect him to roll in. DSC_6874 Cord 810 Westchester Sedan. A notable classic, with its front-wheel-drive, awesome concealed-headlamps and coffin-nosed styling by Buehrig. This particular example is renown the world over for being slightly out of focus. DSC_6881 Austin A90. We in England built these things for you guys west of the Atlantic, and did we get a thank you? Honestly. It was way ahead of its time compared to other Austin products, yet turned out to be a bit of a developmental blind alley, with Austin going back to making unassuming little sedans for meek housewives before long, and letting Healey and MG deal with any future hairy-chested requirements for glamour and excitement. DSC_6880 Speaking of glamour and excitement, here’s the Manx-built Peel P50, reintroduced to the global psyche fairly recently by Jeremy Clarkson. As we saw its diminutive stature makes it the ideal car for urban indoor exploration. And Reliant Regal Mk1. This was probably the most elegant of all the Reliant three-wheelers, though I use the term “elegant” with infinite looseness. DSC_6895 Every time I see a Bugatti Type 35, which is infrequently (my area seems far more densely packed with Maseratis these days) I am reminded of just how perfect the proportions seem. Racing cars don’t tend to be specifically designed for beauty, but they often end up just looking right, in the same way as certain fighter jets do. The 35 looks so poised and eager. The 1912 Sunbeam Coupe De L’Auto parked next to it is pretty special, too. DSC_6893 Rally Escort and Quattro. The legacy of the RS Escorts, the cars that many rally drivers cut their teeth on, is enough that every single two-door Escort from the seventies now seems to be worth absolutely ludicrous amounts of money. The majority of them were quietly disposed of when they disintegrated during the early ’90s, and today even the lowliest 1100cc survivor is worth mega coin as the basis of some kind of rally replica. Crazy. DSC_6887 Novelty Outspan orange car, based on Mini subframes and mechanical components, interior trimmed in orange vinyl (of course), Apparently these things (there were several built) had an alarming tendency to roll over on heavy braking, which isn’t really very surprising, come to think of it. DSC_6899 The legendary BRM 1.5 litre V16 racer, supercharged and throwing out 500 of the most frantic horses imaginable. Supercharged, natch, and blessed with an exhaust crackle that can be heard from the moon. DSC_6924 Jensen, Jag, Jag… the “J” section of the display held particular allure.  I’m quite fond of the white and oxblood combo on the E-type. And just look at that machine-turned alloy on the dashboard. Scrummy. DSC_6900 Bugatti Veyron. Last and, in this company, least. More to come from Beaulieu soon. Next up: The Bikes. (All images, including the blurry and ill-composed ones, copyright 2014 Chris Haining / Hooniverse)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here