I’ve lived in London or its environs all my life and I must admit I had got to the stage where I thought I’d either heard of, or even visited, every place of interest it had to offer. On Tuesday however, thanks to an email from Amazon with the offer of a discounted entry voucher, my attention was drawn to the London Motor Museum in Hayes.
A minimum amount of research on the Internet revealed that it appeared to be quite small, possibly privately owned, “the only custom car museum in Europe” and had been founded by someone called ‘Elo’. Elo had apparently had a short career in modelling and fashion design before investing in his passion for “collecting remarkable cars which have been lovingly restored with their own individual modifications, making each vehicle truly unique”. I also found out that in October 2007 the museum had relocated to Hayes, where it now houses over 200 vehicles. So today, armed with the aforementioned Amazon voucher for an £18 Family Ticket (a generous 76% discount), I decided to go there by car with three ‘summer holiday children’ in tow.
It is difficult to write chronologically about our day without referring first to a bad point (I should stress here that it’s the only one): it is in a terrible location if you go by car! The museum has a visitors’ car park but it only holds three cars and although we got there very shortly after it opened, all three places had been taken. Most of the surrounding roads have yellow line daytime parking restrictions and those that didn’t had no spaces to park in. After driving a couple of times around the block we eventually found a space in a bay on a main road but I felt that was lucky and we could have spent a lot longer or even found nothing near enough at all. On the plus side, it is very close to Hayes and Harlington railway station and if I go there again (a very real possibility) I will definitely go by public transport.
Once we got inside the facilities are rather basic but the cafeteria and souvenir shop were clean, reasonably priced and very well stocked. There is even a small cinema that one would have guessed would be showing past episodes of Top Gear non-stop but it didn’t seem to have anything at all scheduled for today!
So what do you get when you enter the museum itself?
As promised there are plenty of customised cars like the one above. They range from those built in the 1930s through to the more modern vehicles of today. I am not a petrol-head and have no particular interest in customised cars but I can genuinely say that I found some of them to be works of art.
At no time did the three children with me get bored or want to move onto the next set of vehicles any quicker than I did (a good sign). They did find the ‘no touch rule’ a little frustrating and I’m sure they would have loved to sit in many of the cars on show but having seen how lovingly each car had been cleaned and polished I can understand the staff not wanting sticky fingers on the bodywork, leather upholstery, dashboards and steering wheels.
Apart from the finished articles there was a workshop to visit too where you were invited, from behind a glass screen, to watch some of the museum’s new arrivals being renovated and/or customised.
The exhibits the children undoubtedly found the most enjoyable however were those that related to films and television. There were two Batmobiles including the one from the original 1966 Adam West television series (I have to admit I would have liked a picture of me sitting in that myself!) There was also Starsky and Hutch’s Gran Torino, a DMC Delorean (‘Back to the Future’), and a Lotus Esprit which featured in the 1977 Bond film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. The two below however gained the most interest from my young companions!
So apart from the parking, I’d say it is an all-round good visit for even those who despise Jeremy Clarkson! There’s a quiz that is suitable for adults and children that you can pick up in reception and tests your knowledge (or lack of it!) of cars. There are the usual things to buy to remember your visit by (t-shirts, jackets, baseball caps, and miscellaneous retro presents) and if you shop around you can get heavily discounted entry from Amazon Local (as we did) or Groupon to name just two. Mr Elo was there himself for the duration of our visit. He and his staff made us feel more than welcome.
I’d go there again and I’m 100% certain two of the three children I took (the boys) would too.