Like everyone, the British Motor Museum has had an extraordinary and difficult year, not least when, owing to lockdown, it had to close its major exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Range Rover when it had been open for just two days.
It was decided to extend the run of that display until 28 September so visitors could enjoy it when the Museum reopened after three months,
The Museum also launched a new, online exhibition, celebrating one of Britain’s best-selling small cars – Metro at 40. The exhibition, which went live on 9 September, is free to view from the Museum’s website and gives everyone the chance to celebrate this iconic car’s special birthday. It is packed with all things Metro from the Archive, including facts, photos and film clips. Visitors can also read about many fond memories of the small hatchback which have been submitted to the Museum by Metro owners.
In October 2020 the Museum opened a new exhibition from the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust (JDHT). When Jaguar Bought Daimler tells the story of when Jaguar bought the Daimler Company from BSA in 1960.
The Museum remained very active online throughout this year, with its #historybeginsathome social media posts and a lively blog.
In spite of the considerable challenges we have all faced this year, the National Motor Museum has been very busy, staging some of its most popular events and introducing some new attractions.
Visitors are able to relive the joy and excitement of their favourite childhood toy cars at Motoring in Miniature - a fun-filled family exhibition showcasing more than 800 toy cars and pedal cars from the 1920s to the 1990s.
Also new for 2020, visitors in August were invited to drive into the Beaulieu visitor attraction, park-up within the museum grounds and enjoy a Park and Picnic evening in the parkland with live music and exclusive access to the Beaulieu attraction including the National Motor Museum and new adventure play area, Little Beaulieu.
In October 2020 it was announced that the Museum's workshop is, for the first time, opening its doors to historic vehicles owned by enthusiasts, as its engineers draw upon decades of experience to expertly maintain customers’ cherished cars.
The Museum managed to stage a very successful series of 13 of the ever-popular ‘Simply’ events and its Motoring Picture Library became even more accessible, with a new website.
In 2020, for the first time in its 72-year history, a selection of cars from Vauxhall Heritage’s famous collection went on public display, telling the incredible story of Vauxhall Motors' rise from a niche sporting car manufacturer to one of the UK’s best-known automotive brands.
‘Vauxhall – Made in Luton’ opened on September 5 at Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton - a stone’s-throw from where almost all the exhibits were originally manufactured.
The main exhibition includes ten of Vauxhall’s most significant Luton-built cars from the last 115 years, book-ended by the very first model to be produced at the famous Kimpton Road factory – a 1905 7/9hp – and the last passenger car to roll off the line – a 2002 Vectra - before the plant started to produce LCVs exclusively.
As well as the main exhibition cars, which will be on display until Easter 2021, each month ‘Vauxhall – Made in Luton’ features a different ‘hero’ car, starting with the chrome- and fin-laden 1959 PA Velox, which brought a welcome slice of colourful Americana to austere Fifties Britain.
Other ‘heroes’ include the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton, Firenza HPF ‘Droopsnoot’, and OE-Type 30-98, Britain’s first 100mph car.
HERO’s first post-lockdown event ran in August 2020 and pioneered the return of rallying after a break of five months.
A Novice Trial was the prime focus of HERO’s mission to encourage newcomers and younger competitors to sample classic rallying. Over three days, participants moved from classroom to the roads of Wales and Shropshire to put the lessons from top rallyists Seren and Elise Whyte into practice, with a competitive rally on the final day, which saw the top three podium places split by just five seconds, with the youngest podium sitter aged 14!
The Hero Novice Trial was one of the first such events to run under Motorsport UK and Government COVID rulings, which required innovative thinking about how the event was organized and operated. Importantly, most of the novice crews enjoyed the event so much that they then moved forward to tackle further HERO events including the Summer Trial.
The HSCC’s Legends of Brands Hatch Super Prix, on the Grand Prix circuit, ran on the second weekend after the permitted return of racing at the start of July.
More than any other, this was the event that showed that major historic race meetings could run to the new normal of COVID rules.
The Club undertook a massive workload to implement new working practices and drew a very strong entry for two excellent days of racing.
MotorSport Vision secured spectator access and went to enormous lengths to ensure visitorsafety in the era of COVID, and the event was the perfect fillip for those starved of historic racing since the end of 2019.
The entire HSCC team, including the marshals, pulled together to make the event a success, even though barely a month earlier running such an event had still seemed an insurmountable challenge.
Re-scheduled from early June to mid-August, the newly titled Thruxton Historic attracted excellent grids to race at one of the country’s fastest and most challenging circuits.
For many of the competitors, it was their first race meeting of 2020 and a great, yet socially distanced atmosphere was evident in the paddock.
The dedicated circuit management team and the event promotors went to tremendous efforts to ensure the smooth running of the event under the close scrutiny of local COVID authorities.
Significantly, the race meeting was open to a limited number of spectators who loved the chance to see a fine array of historic cars in action.
In April 2020, as the UK’s historic motoring enthusiasts watched classic events all over the country being cancelled due to lockdown, automotive photographer, writer and classic car owner Nick Chivers came up with an idea.
Classics for Carers was an entirely charitable event in support of NHS carers, colleagues and volunteers. The ‘stay-at-home motoring event’ saw prized vehicles taking pride of place on driveways across the UK on Sunday, May 3. They could then be enjoyed by local communities, as residents headed out for their permitted daily exercise, and exhibitors were encouraged to share their motors on social media, for people to enjoy further afield.
Nick’s original aim was to raise around £1,500 for the NHS charities. Between this and a much-demanded second event in June, he actually raised £17,500. And he raised more than funds – he raised spirits. Despondent classic vehicle owners delighted in the event, rally plates and event posters were displayed with pride, owners took up collections on the day from people admiring their cars and motorcycles and, with social media posts being uploaded from those taking part, there was a real sense of community.
As the first major automotive event to run since February, the rescheduled London Concours in August was taking a step into the unchartered. With the additional complications of brand-new restrictions, the event organisers' task of curating a world-class selection of vehicles in one of London's most beautiful hidden locations had become infinitely more difficult.
So, even for those involved in the organising, it was a pleasant surprise to see a London Concours event bound in the same enthusiasm, passion and pageantry as ever. From a line-up of eight Ferrari Dinos, to a class dedicated to vintage Hot Rods, London Concours felt like a real celebration. A celebration of motoring, but also a celebration of respite from the shackles of lockdown.
Aside from the roaring V8s of the Hot Rods, visitors were most drawn to the spectacular collection of Lancias gathered by the organisers, including four rallying Lancia 039s, a Stratos, a Delta Integrale and wonderfully restored roadgoing examples of the Flaminia Super Sport Zagato, Augusta March Special and more.
Designed to lift spirits and support the classic car community during the COVID-19 pandemic, REVS Limiter was a brand-new, online-only virtual car show that took place over the weekend of 16-17 May 2020.
To join in, enthusiasts simply went to the event’s Facebook page where, between 10am and 4pm each day over that weekend, they could watch videos from a range of expert guests including McLaren F1 and Lotus Elan designer Peter Stevens, Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars presenter Paul Cowland, and journalists Steve Cropley and Matt Prior from Autocar, as well as Classic & Sports Car Editor in Chief Alastair Clements.
Plus, everyone was invited to upload photos of their treasured classics to share the story of their passion.
The event was organised by motoring enthusiast, artist and Chaplain at Bicester Heritage, Adam Gompertz, to help people’s mental health when they were deprived of attending the car shows they so enjoy.
What do you do as a small quarterly print magazine during the early stages of lockdown when Britain’s best-loved racing driver passes away just a week before print deadline?
Magneto, with just two full-time staff and less than 18 months in business, had a secret weapon: Mr Doug Nye, arguably the greatest living motor racing historian, close friend of Sir Stirling and freelance contributor to Magneto magazine.
However, Doug was upset at the loss of his friend and understandably worried that it would seem as though he were taking advantage of that friendship – so initially he felt unable to write a feature. Some days later Doug, still grieving for his friend, decided he would after all be willing to write about what made Sir Stirling so special, and why they had become such great friends.
It wouldn’t be an obituary or a history of Sir Stirling’s achievements; Doug wanted to write a piece straight from the heart, and that’s what he did, recalling special moments – including peeing over the edge of a ravine alongside Sir Stirling – and many poignant and often funny anecdotes.
MG founder Cecil Kimber’s dismissal in 1941 created shockwaves in the close-knit British motor industry. What is perhaps less known, is that it was part of a pattern of behaviour by the man whose name is behind the MG marque – William Morris, Lord Nuffield...
Over the years Jon Pressnell has written many articles on MG, and this article is part of the build-up to the biography of Cecil Kimber on which he is currently working.
He is arguably the greatest authority of all on the characters of this extraordinary era, and he has a way of explaining and humanising these people in ways no-one else could. And helping us understand the huge consequences of their actions.
This piece draws on his extensive research – over 30 years – on the British motor industry, and more particularly on Morris-BMC-BL.
As a journalist and historian, he tries not only to bring fresh research to the table, but also to make history a living thing, a story about people, and – above all – an enjoyable adventure for the reader.
In Gary Pusey's own words this is ‘a story that was relatively unknown that involved vision, self-sacrifice and quite a bit of bravery, that is also a heart-warming and very human story with a lasting legacy.'
Gary became aware of this fascinating story earlier this year, and quickly realised that it was largely unknown in the UK – no-one he spoke to in the Land Rover community had heard of Ted Reilly or Jezebel the Land Rover.
Researching online, Gary eventually found a reference to Jezebel on social media, and this led him to a friend of the Reilly family, who told him about the plan to drive a resurrected Jezebel from Eswatini to Solihull to raise funds for wildlife conservation.
That friend introduced Gary to Ted Reilly, his wife Liz and son Mick, and Gary quickly became enthralled and inspired by their pioneering wildlife conservation efforts, and by the extraordinary role played by their humble Land Rover.
In creating Bicester Heritage Dan has made a truly outstanding platform for the promotion of the Heritage movement. The long term commitment and investment required and the creation of physical infrastructure are pillars of strength for the Classic car movement. The attention to detail in sustaining the facilities is outstanding.
This year he masterminded the construction of The Command Works, a £10m extension to Bicester Heritage's former WW2 RAF Base which comprises eight new buildings creating over 77,000 ft2 of new mixed-use business and employment space. The new build facilities are impressively designed to blend in to the historic nature of the site but allow continuing expansion of the centre. This has brought its rewards with Motorsport UK, the Little Car Company and HERO rally and event organisers all establishing their operations centre on site this year.
Bicester Heritage opened its doors to enthusiasts and hosted family-friendly events such as The Sunday Scramble, The Super Scramble and The Classic Car Drive-in Weekend.
The Reverend Adam Gompertz has provided truly spiritual energy to the Heritage movement at a time when physical distancing and lockdown has resulted in far fewer opportunities for enthusiasts to meet in person, with events cancelled or postponed.
The Reverend’s work on social media, his excitement, passion and warmth have added to the colour and texture of the movement at a very difficult time.
It’s fair to say that for the Heritage community the Reverend has become a digital rock on Facebook.
A successful and talented automotive artist he gives earnings from his creative activity to charity.
This year he has lead three virtual events to great acclaim and has partnered with Mission Motorsport and Starter Motor charities.
He has also partnered with Mind to raise the awareness of the impact of COVID-19 on mental health in the community.
Janice Pitchforth has been singularly instrumental in promoting and developing apprenticeships throughout the Heritage industry, as commenced by P&A Wood some years ago. It is a vital part of the work of the BHVC located at Bicester Heritage.
She has worked tirelessly to secure apprenticeship opportunities for people aged from their teens to their 50s. She has then gone a step further to engage with them to such a degree of success that she has been asked to open a second Southern centre for apprenticeship training at Brooklands Museum.
Janice's success with the Heritage Engineering Technical Apprenticeship programme has restored the faith of a disillusioned industry in the potential and commitment of a new generation of engineers.
When the motor industry is recording 90% fewer apprenticeship starts since last year, she has bucked the trend by matching 25 new employees with apprentices since the COVID lockdown in March. Janice’s work is ensuring the Heritage fleet will be supported by skilled, knowledgeable individuals for decades to come. She is also making a positive difference to human lives.
Historic Formula Junior has been around for many years and is one of the most affordable classes of historic single-seater racing, offering an attractive array of front and rear-engined machinery. It has a strong following throughout the UK and Europe.
Despite the abridged season, four strongly-supported races enabled there to be a worthwhile series.
The strength of support for this series is evident in the fact that the first post-lockdown event, at Brands Hatch in July, attracted a remarkable 34 entries – including three from Europe.
This series epitomises the spirit of sports and GT car racing with genuine, period-specification cars from the 1950s and early ‘60s of a type which raced both internationally and in national events of the period.
Very high-quality grids with excellent driving standards, result in spectacular yet clean racing throughout the field. A race series run by drivers for drivers it is now in its fourteenth successful season.
Grids, which are by invitation only, usually comprise more than 30 cars and range from sports-racing cars of the 1950s such as Lola Mk 1s and Lotus Elevens to E-type Jaguars and Shelby Cobras and Mustangs of the mid-60s.
Historic Touring Car racing covers a wide spectrum, but the focus has tended to be on the cars from the mid-1960s onwards.
The HRDC 'Jack Sears Trophy' (named in honour of the man who won the British Touring Car title in both '50s and ‘60s genres) caters for Touring Cars from the earliest days of the BRSCC (later RAC) Saloon Car Championship which are rarely, if ever, seen elsewhere and offers both competitors and spectators something completely different.
The stability of this format has been put to the test in this year of COVID-19 - and the series has consistently topped the bill in grid numbers in all the race meetings that it has attended.
This is almost certainly the oldest working heavy commercial De Dion-Bouton in the world and, until Nick Pellett restored it, it hadn’t run for nearly 100 years since being abandoned in France after the Great War, where it had seen action with the French military on the Western Front.
How do you restore a vehicle when there are no published books specialising in De Dion Bouton commercial vehicles and, thanks to two World Wars, there are no surviving factory records?
The answer is research – which started well before Nick acquired the lorry itself. Over a period of several years he visited the French National Archives in Fontainebleau, to record the surviving records held in multiple cardboard boxes of all models produced and their specifications. He also acquired a pass for the municipal archive in Puteaux where the De Dion-Bouton factory had been based, which held documents salvaged by former employees.
He secured an extraordinary pictorial snapshot of what was De Dion-Bouton's most used lorry chassis, the backbone of its production before and during WW1, where it was ordered in numbers by the French Military.
In 2016 he found the unrestored 1911 rolling chassis for sale and later that year began a three-year restoration that, in Nick's words 'Nearly did me in."
The restored lorry’s first public outing apart from proving runs was on Remembrance Sunday 10th November 2019, an event recorded in Mark Dixon’s feature in Octane magazine (pictured above).
Prodrive owner David Richards won the 1981 World Rally Championship alongside Ari Vatanen in a Ford Escort Mk2. DKP 191T is the car they took to victory in the Acropolis, 1000 Lakes and San Remo rallies in that Championship-winning year
After many years David Richards was able to track DKP 191T down. It was in need of a major restoration, and Escort specialists Viking Motorsport, run by 2003 World Championship Rally-winning Co-Driver Phil Mills, were tasked with the rebuild.
The car had originally been built by David Sutton Cars, who ran the Ford rally team at that time. To make this restoration even more special, John O'Connor who actually built the car in 1980, now works for Viking, and was able to restore a car he built 40 years ago.
Phil Mills said: “Finding some of the original missing parts was a challenge but we found just about everything in the end - which was almost as big a challenge as fitting them in there!
"The car was restored to as close to original as we could and we even got the signwriting done by hand as it was in its day... no laser stickers then!
The end result is what I believe to be a stunning refurbishment and possibly the best original car out there now."
The car was recently delivered to Prodrive and exceeded all expectations.
Chassis 860001 was completed on 19 July 1948 and was the first-ever official production Land Rover. Original plans to gift the vehicle to King George VI were shelved and the 80” then spent the next18 months in the Lode Lane factory site before being registered as JUE 477.
By 1970 it had changed hands several times, eventually being bought by a local farmer and miner in Northumberland. Mechanical issues meant that for decades it was left exposed to the elements on a Northumbrian hillside before being put into storage in a tumbledown barn in 1998.
In 2017, Julian Shoolheifer was tasked by the owner's family with finding a new custodian for JUE 477. This achieved he was subsequently given the job of carrying out a sympathetic but thorough restoration, preserving as much of its history and originality as was physically and safely possible.
Four months and over 1,000 man hours later, the original chassis - which many had condemned as being beyond repair - was ready to form the foundation of JUE 477 once again.
The original engine, gearbox and transfer box were extensively rebuilt in order to provide a reliable drivetrain and thousands of ancillaries, components, nuts and bolts were all removed, cleaned and overhauled and refitted.
The twisted and torn bodywork was not even washed and, using ancient and modern techniques and as little heat as possible, was returned to a recognisable form. In September 2020 JUE 477 won the Best 1940s Vehicle at the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace, London.
Liam Howel has made a great contribution to the success of the Jim Clark Trust and Jim Clark Motorsport Museum over the last 18 months.
He first became involved with the Trust during his third year at university, when he was a volunteer working on fundraising duties and social media posts. When he graduated in 2019 he was asked to join the Trust as Digital & Marketing Executive.
This saw him take charge of social media, where he has attempted to target and harness interest from a younger audience. He has also been at the core of designing the Trust’s updated website and online shop.
Liam has recently taken up the role of Secretary of the Trust.
Jack Bond already has sixteen years of Vintage Sports Car Club membership under his belt and is committed to building his career in vintage motorsport. At age 14 he was campaigning his family’s 1926 Bullnose Morris before progressing to a self-prepared 1914 Vauxhall A/D type. He now has a competitive drive in a 1930 Alvis Silver Eagle Special with some other interesting projects/cars potentially in the pipeline.
He initially started working at Tip Top Engineering on a voluntary basis in order to gain experience but is now a permanent member of staff. He has other strings to his bow, however – he recently cast, machined and sold a run of Morris cylinder heads. When making parts he uses traditional methods like pattern making and casting where possible and viable but makes use of modern technologies such as CAD, CNC machining, spark eroding and water cutting where better suited.
Harry Ruffell-Hazell joined CMC in Bridgnorth as an apprentice in 2017. After leaving college he was looking for a position that would allow him to combine engineering with his love of cars, and after seeing a line-up of restored classics outside CMC on the Stanhope Business Park not far from where he lived, he handed them his CV. The company was impressed, even more so when he was interviewed.
He was taken on as an apprentice and was thrown in at the deep end, joining an apprentice team working on a 1954 Lancia Aurelia. It wasn’t long before he was made team leader on the project.
“Always with a smile on his face, eager to learn, hands on, and now producing high quality work of his own to an impressive standard, Harry has a great future ahead of him and we are proud to call him a CMC apprentice.”
Nigel Woodward, Managing Director, Classic Motor Cars Ltd