Although each of the cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles in the National Motor Museum has its own remarkable story to tell, one of the stars of this varied collection is undoubtedly the Lotus 49.
Campaigned by Graham Hill during the 1967 Formula 1 season, this is the sole surviving Lotus team car from that year. At its peak, this nimble machine could better 180mph, thanks to its 408bhp V8 engine.
However, in common with other Lotus racing cars of the period, this example was being let down by its uncooperative gearbox, which wouldn’t always select the correct gear. Once removed from the car, the transmission was handed to motorsport engineers Hall & Hall of Lincolnshire for a painstaking rebuild. With this completed, the car and its transmission could finally be reunited.
The aim of the National Motor Museum workshop engineers is to keep the museum's vehicles in tip-top mechanical condition, as they would have been during their heyday. So, before the Lotus could be put back on display, it was taken to Blyton Park race circuit in Lincolnshire for test runs, to ensure that the gear-selection woes really were a thing of the past. Although these runs proved that the transmission was once again in full working order, a developing mid-range engine misfire suggested that the ignition system now required attention. The work of maintaining a historic vehicle is never finished.
Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Golf GTi project in the workshop is slowly nearing completion. This Mk1 example of the legendary 1980s hot hatch had been restored by its original owner, but only partly reassembled before being handed over to workshop trainee Tim Edgerton.
However, as is often the case with painstaking restoration projects, getting the finishing details ‘just right’ can soak up an extraordinary amount of time. With the engine bay electrics finally pieced back together, the wiring loom is nearly ready for service, leaving only a handful of final tasks to be completed, such as refitting the lamps and grille and finishing off the interior trim.