Museum Extension

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The excellent Haynes Motor Museum, about which I wrote last February, held a party in July to celebrate its tenth anniversary and the opening of a £3 million, 17,500 sq ft extension of its collection at Sparkford, in Somerset.

The opening was performed by Murray Walker, before he rushed to off to Silverstone to prepare his commentary on the British GP. The occasion was also a reminder that Haynes Publishing Group has been going for 35 years. Back to the museum, the exhibits have grown from 50 to 300, housed in a most attractive 52,500sq ft building. Visitors now enter via a darkened “street-scene” containing a large and rare 1909 Dayton, a 1904 Oldsmobile, an AX Renault and a 1919 BSA motorcycle, all Presumably cleaned after their journeys, While in the book-shop are a non-standard A7 sports car and A7 saloon. Then it is on to the diverse and immaculate assembly of cars and motorabilia in the museum.

There is also a new Pit Stop cafe, overlooking a Model-J Derham-bodied Duesen berg tourer displaying rotating itself on a massive g turntable. Haynes describe this, one of only eight built and the only one captive outside the USA, as made by “the ultimate motor-car builders, considered in its day the fastest, sleekest, most stylish car money could buy, the only car for the super famous to be seen in.” And money being uppermost in so many minds these days, its value is declared as $1M…

By a coincidence, as I was absorbing this, I unearthed J L Elbert’s book on the Duesenberg, (Motor Classic Bookhouse, California, 1949), a car the author called “The Mightiest American Motor Car”. From this I was able to confirm that the Model-J had a twin-cam hemi-head 32-valve 420cu in motor which developed 265bhp at 4200rpm or 320bhp aided by a centrifugal supercharger running at six times engine speed to give 8Ib/sq in boost at 4000rpm, on the Model Si. In this guise 116mph and 104mph in second gear were claimed. I also recall being intrigued by the fascinating details of a Model-J I wrote up in Motor Sport a very long time ago.

However, not everyone loved the Duesy. Cecil Clutton in The Vintage Motor Car wrote: “Its handling characteristics were said to be disappointing and whether for this or other reasons, it failed to catch on…”. But this is only one of a host of great cars to look at, and perhaps see running on the test track, down at Yeovil…

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