A CELEBRATION of the brilliance of British motoring is ready for viewing after a multi-million pound revamp for the home of the nation's heritage motor collection.
Now dubbed the British Motor Museum, the number of vehicles has risen to almost 400 and includes some of the most famous models ever built in Britain.
The original Mini, the first MG and Land Rover Number One - affectionately known as Hue - are all part of the show at the expanded centre next to the Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin factories in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
New to the set up is a £4 million Collections Centre which houses the reserve collections of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust and the Jaguar Heritage Trust which in itself comprises hundreds of vehicles that have never before been on public display.
The historic gathering of all things automotive and British includes cars used by the Queen, land speed record breakers and movie legends such as the FAB 1 futuristic limousine from Thunderbirds.
Other star struck models include the DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future, the Union Jack painted Jaguar XK8 from the Austin Powers' film Goldmember and the high performance Jaguar XKR - complete with machine gun - used in the James Bond movie Die Another Day.
The Mini Cooper S driven to victory in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally by Paddy Hopkirk is part of a gathering of motor racing greats and so is the Le Mans winning Jaguar XJR-9 which grabbed glory in 1988 in the famous 24 hour race with Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace at the wheel.
They sit alongside lesser known creations such as the Leyland-Crompton Electricar from 1972 - a prototype electric vehicle powered by 24 lead acid batteries and capable of reaching 33mph with a range of 40 miles.
One of the oldest vehicles on display is Autocar Number One, an 1896 Wolseley three-wheeler designed by Herbert Austin and first seen at the National Cycle Exhibition staged at Crystal Palace in the December of that year.
To prove the benefits of motorised transport, Austin drove the vehicle - top speed 12mph from a three horsepower one-cylinder engine - on a 250 mile round trip from Birmingham to Rhyl in North Wales.
The museum - formerly the Heritage Motor Centre - has undergone a Â£1.1 million refurbishment which has modernised the exhibition halls to show the vehicles in themed zones with some now on raised plinths above the main display area.
Former Jaguar chairman Bob Dover, who is now chairman of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust which oversees the Gaydon collection, officially opened the new museum at a ribbon-cutting ceremony with South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson, himself a classic car fanatic.
"The British Motor Museum is instrumental in enabling visitors to learn more about the past, present and future of the British motor industry, its technology and its people," said Mr Williamson. "With the exciting improvements and enhancements now made, the museum can now be counted as being amongst the best motor museums in the world."
Such is the layout of the new museum, visitors have the chance to view the exhibits at close quarters while in the Collections Centre they can walk around rows of historic models, lined up in informal fashion.
There can be found historic gems such as the 1932 Wolseley Hornet-Swallow, built in Coventry and not only Jaguar founder's Sir William Lyons first real sports car but also the first to be powered by a six-cylinder engine.
Other rare examples include the very last Mini Cooper, driven off the line at Longbridge in Birmingham in 2000 by Lulu, the last Rover ever produced - a Rover 75 from 2005 - and a tracked Land Rover Defender built for a global expedition in 1997 by explorer Ranulph Fienes.
There is also the chance to view historic vehicles undergoing maintenance in the centre's workshops.
The museum is now open to the public on a daily basis with admission fees of £14 for adults, £9 for children aged five to 16 and concessionary rates of £12. Family tickets for two adults and three children cost £39 while those donating their admission fee via Gift Aid will receive a free annual pass.
Our extensive photo gallery of the new British Motor Museum shows the following:
Union Jack Jaguar XK8 reflected in polished aluminium Jaguar XJR
New Collections Centre
Gavin Williamson and Bob Dover opening museum
Refurbished exhibition hall
British roadsters - Triumph Spitfire (top), MG Midget, Triumph TR6
British Motor Museum sign
Jaguar Hall of Fame poster wall
Land Rover exhibit
1953 Allard P2 Safari
1952 Austin A40 Sports bonnet badge
1930s Austin Magazine posters
1896 Wolseley Autocar Number One
1953 Bentley R-Type Continental
1997 Tracked Land Rover Defender
1982 DeLorean DMC-12
2004 FAB 1 from Thunderbirds
1948 Land Rover Number One - HUE 166
2006 Jaguar XKR from Die Another Day
2002 Jaguar XJR in polished aluminium
1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1
2001 Jaguar XK8 Union Jack finish from Goldmember
1988 Jaguar XJR-9 Le Mans winner
2015 Jaguar XF 2.2D R-Sport
1972 Leyland-Crompton Electricar
1958 Land Rover 88 Royal Review vehicle
1965 MGB GT cutaway
1938 MG EX135 which set 1939 200mph speed record for 1,100cc vehicles
2000 Mini Cooper - final model
1964 Mini Cooper S - Monte Carlo winner
1965 Mini Traveller once owned by Lord Mountbatten
2005 Rover 75 - last Rover built
1932 Wolseley Hornet-Swallow
Collections Centre workshops