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Heritage Motor Centre
Museum
Location Gaydon, Warwickshire, England
Cars 300
Established 1993
Website Click here
Prices
Adult £11
Senior £9
Child £8

The Heritage Motor Centre is a British motor museum and research centre, located adjacent to the Jaguar Land Rover Gaydon Centre near Gaydon in Warwickshire, England. The centre is open to the public, and houses a collection of important vehicles, celebrating Britain's motoring heritage. It is affiliated to the British Motorcycle Charitable Trust.

History

The collection, now cared for by the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, was developed in the 1970s when a new division of the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) was formed to preserve and manage the company's collection of historic vehicles. In 1979, the company became BL Heritage Limited, adopting a new headquarters at Studley, Warwickshire. Two years later, a museum was opened at the London Transport Museum's former home of Syon Park, west of London, where some 100 vehicles from the collection were put on display.

During the early 1980s, closer ties were made with other British motor manufacturers. In 1983, the collection was granted charitable status, and became the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, and although there were now several manufacturers involved, the collection still carried a large bias towards the former British Leyland companies. Austin-Rover continued as the primary backer of the Trust, and gradually the other companies withdrew their support. Meanwhile, the collection continued to grow.

In the late 1980s, it became evident that larger premises would be required as the collection developed. Several new sites were considered for a purpose built museum. The present location was chosen, on the site of the former RAF Gaydon airfield in South Warwickshire, which was home to the Rover Group's design, technology and testing ground. Plans were drawn up and construction began in 1991 for the new Heritage Motor Centre. Set in 65 acres (260,000 m2) of grounds, the Centre brought together all of the Trust's operations for the first time, providing exhibition and storage space for the collection of over 250 vehicles and archive of over 2 million photographs, business records, brochures and drawings. The site also includes conference facilities.

When Rover Group was taken over by BMW in 1994, the Heritage Motor Centre came under their ownership. Six years later, BMW sold the Rover Group, which meant that the Centre changed hands yet again, this time under the ownership of the Ford Motor Company. This latest change of ownership means that the Trust now had the opportunity to expand its collection to include all of the companies that have formed part of Britain's motor manufacturing history.

Vehicle collection

This is not an exhaustive list — a complete list is provided on the centre's website. Due to space limitations, not all cars are exhibited at all times.
  • The first and last production models of the Land Rover Freelander
  • The first and last production models of the Rover 75
  • The first Mini produced: 621 AOK
  • The last Rover Mini Cooper produced
  • FAB1 from the Thunderbirds movie
  • An Ascari KZ1 show car from 2000
  • The Minis that won the Monte Carlo Rally during the 1960s
  • Various Land Rover, Range Rover, and Rover P5 vehicles used by the British Royal Family and senior politicians
  • An SAS Land Rover
  • The very first Land Rover
  • Various MG Speed Record cars
  • Rover Gas Turbine cars
  • Various Mini based prototypes, such as the Minissima
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom
  • The last Aston Martin DB7
  • Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
  • Sinclair C5
  • The Metro 1.3 HLS as shown at the 1980 Motor Show
  • Ford RS200
  • Metro 6R4 Rally Car
  • Ford Escort Mark I as used in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally
  • Jaguar R1 Formula One racecar from 2000