Vehicles brought out of storage as Coventry Transport Museum launches new exhibition
A car owned by Diana, Princess of Wales, that was believed to be a gift from King Charles III and a vehicle that helped to launch a range of Barbie toys can be seen for the first time in years at Coventry Transport Museum.
Thirty vehicles, many of which were made in Coventry, have been brought out of the museum’s storage collection and can now be viewed in a space previously reserved for temporary exhibitions and events within the museum to all visitors to enjoy more of the collection.
The new gallery - Behind the Scenes: Wheels and Workers – which is now open, features a Coventry-made Jaguar XJS that became trapped in Bosnia in the 1990s and was later returned to the UK, painted bright pink and used as a prototype by Mattell to create Barbie’s toy vehicle is included in the display.
Other motor vehicles and cycles made by well-known and well-loved Coventry manufacturers such as Hillman, Standard, Singer, Alvis, Riley, Triumph, Humber and Daimler will also be on display as part of the expansion of the permanent exhibition.
A recently acquired 1949 Lea-Francis Estate, with a wooden body constructed by cycle and motor manufacturers APA Motors in Stoke Row, will also be on display having been in the same family since 1955.
In addition, visitors can now also see a 1980 Austin Mini Metro L that was owned by Diana, Princess of Wales when she was still Lady Diana Spencer and was believed to be a gift from Prince Charles, now King Charles III, after he test drove the vehicle at its launch.
The car, which was made in Longbridge, remained in Lady Diana’s possession until 1981, and is now on display in the main museum.
Marguerite Nugent, Director of Culture at CV Life who operate Coventry Transport Museum, said: “This is a really exciting moment for Coventry Transport Museum and means visitors now have the opportunity to see even more vehicles that are part of the city’s and the wider region’s heritage.
“Museums across the country face the ongoing challenge of trying to show as much of their collection as possible and we are no different, so we are delighted that we are able to bring more vehicles out in this way.
“This is space within the museum that we have previously utilised for temporary events but we’ve decided to use that area to bring out more of our collection for visitors to enjoy which we feel is really important.
“There are some incredible names that will resonate with the people of Coventry as so many people have historic family links to the factories in the city and we have no doubt that it will attract people from across the region.
“Also, the fact that we have the car previously owned by Princess Diana and the striking pink ‘Barbie’ car will also be a draw – especially as the new Barbie film is expected to hit cinemas in 2023.
“It means there are now more than over 300 vehicles, including cars, motorbikes and bicycles, on display in the museum as well as a range of interactive activities for our visitors.”
Coventry Transport Museum is also calling for former workers – and their families – who helped to create the vehicles that have just gone on display to come forward and tell their stories.
The full list of vehicles includes: 1964 Hillman Swallow Prototype, 1949 Coventry Victor Venus, 1929 Daimler 25/85, 1931 Daimler M16/20, 1965 Alvis TE21, 1934 Riley Lynx, 1934 Armstrong Siddeley Long 20 Landaulette, 1964 Morris Traveller Estate, 1935 SS Jaguar 1.5 litre Saloon, 1973 Jaguar XJS, 1910 Humber Landaulette, 1931 Armstrong Siddeley ‘Sunshine Saloon’, 1959 Ferguson R5/2 Prototype, 1937 Standard 10, 1939 Triumph 12, 1956 Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire 234, 1951 Singer SM1500, 1975 Chrysler Centura, 1953 Riley RME, 1970 Invacar 70, 1954 Singer Roadster, 1929 Humber 16/50, 1931 Swift Coupe, 1966 Humber Imperial, 2008 Jaguar XF Electric, 1963 Hillman Super Minx MkII, 1959 Austin Gipsy Fire Tender, 1912 Crouch Carette, 1990 Jaguar XJS ‘Barbie’, 1967 Triumph 1300 and a 1949 Lea-Francis Estate.