National Motor Museum picks 50 objects that define motoring history

by Antony Ingram
27 April 2022 2 min read
National Motor Museum picks 50 objects that define motoring history
A Crown Staffordshire hand-painted porcelain model of an Edwardian-era car Photos: National Motor Museum Trust

It cannot be easy distilling the entire history of motoring down to fifty objects, but that is exactly what curators at the National Motor Museum are doing to celebrate the museum’s golden anniversary.

A new exhibition, called The Story of Motoring in 50 Objects, will launch at the museum in Beaulieu on 3 July. As you read this the choice is still being whittled down from a 150-item shortlist, but that final half-century will be ready by the time the exhibition opens.

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If you think it sounds exhausting even cutting 100 from their current list, then consider that the 50-item exhibition has been selected from more than 1.7 million items cared for by the National Motor Museum Trust. We’re presuming curators haven’t had to go through every piece, but even so, it sounds like a mighty undertaking.

The final fifty will comprise all manner of motoring artefacts, from film footage, images, documents and books, up to entire cars. Make your guesses now on the latter, though images of those included in the shortlist feature vehicles such as a Land Speed Record-breaking Sunbeam, and a 1903 De Dion Bouton, selected by the museum’s founder, Edward, Lord Montagu, when he opened the museum on 4 July, 1972.

Elsewhere – in the shortlist, at least – you’ll find an early taximeter, petrol pump, and of course the famous Spirit of Ecstasy. It’s a diverse selection, and one of the joys of the exhibition will, we suspect, be discovering items whose importance you’ve not even considered.

Jon Murden, National Motor Museum Trust Chief Executive, says the exhibition will tell the story of motoring in all its diversity. “From illustrating motoring’s technology and progress, its achievement and endeavour, to transforming leisure activities and inspiring art, our final selection will be an exciting and important one to make” he says.

To celebrate the exhibit’s opening, owners of vehicles from the 1970s are being invited to participate in a special display. Further details on how to register your interest will be available shortly.

And if the exhibition for some reason doesn’t appeal, Beaulieu does of course host dozens of other motoring-themed events throughout the year. Next up is the Spring Autojumble on May 14-15 – a taster to the world-famous International Autojumble in September.

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  • Sidney says:

    I was looking forward to reading the list! Then you tell us it’s not ready. Is this modern journalism? Looks like it.

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