A Sparkling Museum

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Being in Somerset the other day, I had another look at the Haynes Motor Museum. It is a sparkling place to visit, the cars immaculate, as if just out of factory or showroom. John Haynes, the celebrated publisher, does not see eye-to-eye with showing “as used” exhibits; to effectively portray motoring history, why shouldn’t cars be original and smartly presented?

To visit his collection is to marvel at the great number of interesting and rare cars John has acquired. The last time I was at Sparkford, Yeovil, it was for the opening, by John’s son, of an extension to contain Morris and Ford exhibits and a workshop, the facade of which is a replica of Wm Morris’s Oxford Garage of 1913. Now another extension has gone up, to accomodate additional exhibits. Looking again at the rows of shining, well presented cars, 1 bet some other museums — no names, no pack drill! — must be quite jealous…

It is fun to find a Rover 8 beside a Citroen 5CV, etc, but if you prefer fast stuff, what about the Alpine Rally Allard, the Haynes Racing Group 7VR Tuscan, Elva Courier, Graham Hill’s F1 Lola-Cosworth T370, a wide-tyred Caterham Super-7 that looks ready for road or circuit, the ex-Bira Delahaye 135 or a Replica long-nosed Jaguar D-type? Exotics? Well, you can study at close quarters Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer, De Tomaso Pantera, Maserati Merak SS, Lamborghini Countach, DeLorean, Jensen Interceptor, Bentley S3 or Rolls-Royce Corniche. Rarities? How far would you have to go to see another Teutonically-aggressive Nazi SS straight-eight Horch 780D with typical German drophead body and frames for the Swastikas, or a Jordan Playboy roadster? American autos are a Haynes speciality, the Jordan joined by a Haynes V12, 1913 Empire 31, Stearnes-Knight Model-S, a Moon 642 tourer with lamps like 50p pieces, and the essential Auburn 852 Speedster, fwd Cord 810 and Stanley steam car.

The monsters are there too — Ford Thunderbird, Fairline Skyliner, Edsel and Country Squire Ltd station-wagon, Caddy Eldorado, Corvettes, Stingray, Lincoln Continental. . . At the opposite extreme, a Sinclair C5, the Bubbles and family favourites small to large join the expected vintage and veteran back-up, together with models from Triangs snatched from the kids to full sets of miniatures, against a fine background of Motorabilia. I am hardly a museum fanatic but if cars have to be static, the way John Haynes does it is comparatively harmless; decidedly pleasing, in fact.