MO­TOR­MAN

New Zealand Classic Car - - MotorMan -

Pi­o­neer mo­torist

While study­ing at Ox­ford just af­ter the war, Mon­tagu drove a Hill­man Minx that was noth­ing like as grand or sport­ing as the cars driven by his con­tem­po­raries. In­deed, at that point, he just wasn’t that in­ter­ested in cars — un­like his father, John Mon­tagu, a pi­o­neer mo­torist who raced an 1899 Daim­ler and was the first Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment to drive a car into the yard of the House of Com­mons.

Ed­ward John Bar­ring­ton Dou­glas-scot­tMon­tagu, the third Baron Mon­tagu of Beaulieu, had lit­tle chance of shar­ing his dad’s en­thu­si­asm for cars, since he was only three when his father died in 1929. In 1951, at the age of 25, he as­sumed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the Beaulieu es­tate, which had been the fam­ily seat for 400 years. The place needed a lot of money spent on it, and its an­nual in­come was min­i­mal. Mon­tagu had been work­ing in a Lon­don ad­ver­tis­ing agency — “to keep the wolf from the door”, to use his own words — but re­al­ized that, to re­main vi­able, the house needed to be opened to the pub­lic.

Lord Mon­tagu re­mem­bered his father’s early mo­tor­ing con­nec­tions and rea­soned that a dis­play of early or spe­cial cars might be an added at­trac­tion for pay­ing vis­i­tors. Thus, to­gether with helpers, he knocked a hole in a wall and winched the fam­ily’s five vet­eran and Ed­war­dian cars into the front hall of Palace House at Beaulieu. Some of the cars were so tall that the tyres had to be let down so they would fit un­der the door jamb. It was a small but im­pres­sive col­lec­tion — a 1903 De Dion Bou­ton, an 1896 Leon Bollee tracer, an 1898 Benz, a 1904 Vaux­hall, and an 1898 Daim­ler.

Dis­play high­lights

With such an in­cred­i­ble ar­ray of ma­chin­ery on dis­play, high­light­ing Beaulieu’s ex­hibits is no easy task. Sir Henry Se­grave’s record­break­ing Golden Ar­row is a chief at­trac­tion — a 930-horse­power car that achieved 231mph at Day­tona Beach in 1929 — while the late Jumbo Goddard’s 1954 D-type Jaguar is the same car that Dun­can Hamil­ton and Tony Rolt drove into se­cond place at Le Mans 61 years ago.

In later years, grants al­lowed the mu­seum to buy re­ally im­por­tant cars, such as the 1903

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