National Motor Museum Blog – October 2015

Posted  28.09.2015
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The funeral of Edward, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, the founder of the National Motor Museum, took place on Thursday 10th September. It was fitting that one of his favourite cars, the 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, played an important part in his send-off.

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost

With a special platform fitted above the rear bodywork, Edward, Lord Montagu’s coffin was carried by the car for one last drive. Museum Manager and Chief Engineer Doug Hill drove the car from Palace House, along Beaulieu High Street and through the attraction grounds to Beaulieu Abbey, where the funeral took place. Leading the car was the museum’s 1924 Sunbeam Standard Model 3 motorcycle, with the 1913 Douglas Model R following behind.

This wasn’t the first time that this Silver Ghost had been adapted to suit different roles. When Edward, Lord Montagu acquired the car during the 1950s, its original limousine bodywork was long gone. In its place was a tow truck crane and winch, although it had also been used as a hearse in the past. When it was restored, the current bodywork, built in the elegant style of a Barker Roi des Belges body, was constructed.

Le Mans Legend

A very different yet equally remarkable vehicle is now on loan to the National Motor Museum. The Porsche 917 was a formidable racing car with its powerful flat-twelve engine, achieving great success during the early 1970s. This particular example, bearing chassis number 917-13 and fitted with a 4.9-litre engine, appeared in the cult Steve McQueen film Le Mans. During filming, which took place at the 1970 Le Mans 24-hour event, the car crashed while being driven by David Piper.

For the 1971 race season, the car was rebuilt and then campaigned successfully by the JW Automotive/Gulf racing team, being driven to victory at Daytona, Monza, the Osterreichring and Montlhery. The current owners of the 917 purchased it in 1973 and have kept it as it was during its racing heyday.

While this impressive machine now complements the museum’s collection of race and rally cars, the workshop engineers can start to prepare some of the National Motor Museum’s older exhibits, for the fast-approaching London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

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