Motor museums UK: the best days out for car and motorcycle enthusiasts

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From immersive F1 exhibitions to classic cars, bikes and buses, we round up the best motor museums the UK has to offer

Motor museums provide a great way for fans of cars and motorcycles to spend a few hours – and there are lots to explore here in the UK.

To help you plan a day out, we've listed some of the best motor museums the country has to offer, along with any events they've planned for the coming months. All of the museums listed are closed at the moment due to the lockdown but, where possible, we have included their anticipated opening dates.

Silverstone F1

Photo: Getty Images

Silverstone Experience

Towcester, Northants NN12 8TN (find on Google Maps)

Anticipated re-opening date: 20 May 2021 

Housed within the circuit’s only remaining Second World War Wellington Bomber hangar, this motor museum tells the fascinating story of human endeavour, sporting rivalry and engineering innovation that characterises British motor-racing. At the end of your visit, you’ll get the chance to feel what it’s like to speed round the Silverstone track alongside your motor-racing heroes.

British Motor Museum

Gaydon, Warwickshire CV35 0BJ (find on Google Maps)

Anticipated re-opening date: 17 May 2021

The British Motor Museum houses the world’s largest collection of historic British cars, with nearly 300 classic, vintage and veteran vehicles. This family-friendly motor museum sets out the fascinating story of Britain’s motor industry, with information on the designers, factories, workers, cars, publicity and drivers involved in all the important cars in British motoring history.

Younger visitors can learn from themed trails, touchscreen exhibits and an interactive zone showing how a car works, while everyone will love the costumed guided tours. There’s also a café and a play area. While you wait for the museum to reopen, why not enjoy one of its virtual tours.

Forthcoming events at the British Motor Museum include: 

• Virtual talk: Longbridge Car Factory and the Community (29 May)

• Virtual talk: Canley Car Factory and the Community (6 April)

• National Metro & Mini Show (6 June)

• Ford Nationals (27 June)

• Mogfest (10 July)

To see the British Motor Museum's full list of 2021 events, click here.

National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

New Forest, Hants SO42 7ZN (find on Google Maps)

Anticipated re-opening date: 29 March 2021

From the earliest motor carriages to the adrenaline-fuelled world of F1 racing, Beaulieu’s motor museum has a huge range of vehicles. There are 285 in total, with the oldest dating back to 1875. It boasts some great exhibits, too. You’ll be able to see a 1930s garage and explore what actually goes on beneath the bonnet of your car – thanks to the help of the Beaulieu crash test dummy. 

Forthcoming events at the National Motor Museum include: 

• Simply Electric (23 May)

• Simply Porsche (6 June)

• Mini Cooper Register Rally (13 June)

• Simply VW (19 June)

• Hot Rod and Custom Show (20 June)

To see the National Motor Museum's full list of 2021 events, click here.

UK car shows 2018: classic Jaguar

Haynes Motor Museum

Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7LH (find on Google Maps)

Anticipated re-opening date: 17 May 2021

Haynes Motor Museum is the fruit of one generous man and his lifelong passion for motors. Haynes manuals creator John Haynes launched the museum with 30 cars from his own private collection. He continued to donate cars and financial support for the rest of his life until he died in February 2019.

The museum now displays over 400 amazing cars and bikes from the dawn of motoring in the late 1800s through nostalgic classics of the 1950s and 1960s and glorious Rolls-Royces to world-renowned super cars like the Jaguar XJ220. Trails, quizzes, tours and lots of events will keep all ages of car enthusiast entertained.

Forthcoming events at Haynes Motor Museum include: 

• Haynes Breakfast Club – Future Classics (2 May, 6 June, 4 July)

• Haynes Breakfast Club – Vintage and Classics (9 May, 13 June, 11 July)

To see Haynes Motor Museum's full list of 2021 events, click here.

Coventry Transport Museum

Hales Street, Coventry CV1 1JD (find on Google Maps)

As yet no planned re-opening date.

Coventry Transport Museum houses the largest publicly owned collection of British vehicles in the world, and tells the story of Coventry through the rise and fall of its biggest industry. There are motor cars, commercial vehicles, cycles and motorcycles to see, and some quite novel exhibits to explore – like the development of the taxi.

You can even see what it would feel like to break the World Land Speed Record on their thrilling 4D Land Speed Record Simulator!

Forthcoming events at Coventry Transport Museum include: 

• Virtual exhibition: Gearing Up – Behind the Frame (until 13 June)

• Virtual exhibition: Gearing Up – From Saddle to Spoke (until 13 June)

To keep an eye on other events at Coventry Transport Museum, click here.

Brooklands Museum

Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0SL (find on Google Maps)

As yet no planned re-opening date.

Home to the first purpose-built racing circuit, you could say that Brooklands is where British motorsport began. Now it displays giant racing cars like the 24-litre Napier-Railton, as well as motorcycles, bicycles and more.

There’s no escaping the huge flying and aviation industry connections of the site, either. Vickers started manufacturing at Brooklands during the First World War, with many other aircraft firms joining throughout the years. More parts for Concorde were built at Brooklands than at any other site, and you can see an example of the world’s first supersonic passenger aircraft here.

Forthcoming events at Brooklands Museum include:

• Virtual talk: Campbell@100 (25 March)

To keep an eye on other events at Brooklands Museum, click here.

UK car shows 2018: classic car racing

Cotswold Motoring Museum

Bourton-on-the-Water, Glos GL54 2BY (find on Google Maps)

Anticipated re-opening date: 17 May 2021

You’ll find lots of nostalgic vehicles at the Cotswold Motoring Museum, from classic cars (Jaguars, Austins, MGs and more) to vintage motorbikes and even a 1970s family caravan, as well as motoring memorabilia and toys.

Individual galleries have their own special pull. There’s a blacksmith’s shop put together to demonstrate the historic move from horses to motoring, and you can visit the Mill Gallery to see great vehicles, quaint caravans, motoring curiosities and nostalgic signs. TV star Brum makes his home here too – he always set out from the museum on his exciting adventures. Plus, Boundless members get 10% off!

National Motorcycle Museum

Bickenhill, Solihull, West Midlands B92 0EJ (find on Google Maps)

As yet no planned re-opening date.

From ABC, Abingdon and Advance to Wooler, Wulf II and Zenith, this is the largest collection of British motorcycles in the world, with over 1000 machines from 170 different manufacturers spanning around three centuries. There are a number of temporary special exhibitions, as well as events including antiques and collectors’ fairs.

Forthcoming events at the National Motorcycle Museum include: 

• NMM 'Live' Open Day (30 October)

To keep an eye on other events at the National Motorcycle Museum, click here

Lakeland Motor Museum

Backbarrow, Ulverston, Cumbria LA12 8TA (find on Google Maps)

Anticipated reopening date: 17 May 2021

Nestled in the scenic Leven Valley in Cumbria, there’s plenty to see at the Lakeland Motor Museum. There are 140 classic cars and motorbikes – all carefully assembled over 50 years. From a Land Army Girl with a 1940s Fordson tractor to a 1920s gangster evocative of America’s prohibition era, much of the collection is exhibited in a social context, too.

And don't miss these other great motor museums

The following motor museums may be smaller, but they still provide a fabulous experience for automotive enthusiasts: 

White classic car front

Photo: Getty Images

Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum

Stockley Lane, Calne, Wiltshire SN11 0NF (find on Google Maps)

British Bubblecar Museum

Clover Farm, Main Road, Langrick, Lincolnshire PE22 7AW (find on Google Maps)

British Commercial Vehicle Museum

King Street, Leyland, Lancashire PR25 2LE (find on Google Maps)

The Bugatti Trust

Prescott Hill, Gotherington, Cheltenham, Gloucester GL52 9RD (find on Google Maps)

History on Wheels Museum

Longclose House, Common Road, Eton Wick, Berkshire SL4 6QY (find on Google Maps)

Llangollen Motor Museum

Pentre Felin, Llangollen LL20 8EE (find on Google Maps)

Moretonhampstead Motor Museum

Court Street, Moretonhampstead, Devon TQ13 8LG (find on Google Maps

Whitewebbs Museum of Transport

Whitewebbs Road, Enfield, Middlesex, EN2 9HW (find on Google Maps)

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