Doune Motor Museum
Doune Motor Museum (spring, 1970 - November 30,1998) was home to the Doune Collection, and was located eight miles northeast of Stirling on the A84, and host to the Doune Motor Racing Hill Climb, which began in 1968.
The museum first opened to the public during the spring of 1970, and was accommodated in the former farm buildings of the Earl of Moray's estate, which had been converted to provide a warm and dry environment in which to preserve and display the collection. The museum followed on the success of the adjacent hill climb course, established only two years earlier, and quickly became very popular amongst enthusiasts.
Closed during the winter season, the museum opened between April 1, and October 31, each year. The site offered free car parking, picnic facilities, toilets, a self-service cafeteria and a tourist shop. Coach parties were welcomed along with individual visitors. The cafeteria usually opened with the museum, but during April and May was only opened at weekends, and in October, only opened on Sundays. Due to the numbers attending, and the site restrictions necessary to allow competitor access to the paddock, staging area and hill climb track, public access to the museum and cafeteria was only available to members of the public who were also attending the hill climb.
Each exhibit featured a descriptive notice, which not only described the generic history, but provided information regarding the unique background of the featured item. The exhibition space was generally immaculate, with many of the exhibits being maintained in running condition where possible. The racing cars in particular were often to be seen in action during hill climb weekends. Always sure to draw a crowd was the 1976 Broadspeed Jaguar, which lacked any serious effort to silence its engine, and could neither be missed nor ignored when it was running.
Together with its own collection, the display was supplemented by a number of privately owned vehicles, which were on loan to the museum. The collection featured the second oldest Rolls-Royce in the world, dating from 1905.
The story of the closure was reported by The Herald:
Motor museum at end of the road
From the archive
11 Jul 1998
SCOTLAND'S leading motor museum, at Doune, west Perthshire, is to close at the end of the season, it was announced yesterday. The museum's board, chaired by Lord Doune, blamed falling admissions for making the facility unviable. The museum, which opened in 1970, has seen visitors numbers drop from nearly 50,000 a year in the 1980s to fewer than 30,000. Director Michael Chapman said Lord Doune was extremely sad about the closure, but the whole board recognised its inevitability. He said: We're not prepared to turn the area into a theme park, which seems to be what people want nowadays. The buildings are in a designated landscape, and I don't think the planners would want that in such an attractive skelp of countryside. These days the public are looking for more interactive displays, and although museums still appeal to car enthusiasts there aren't enough of them to keep us going. We've struggled with this for a number of years. We've consulted with the tourist board, and we've done our best. There will be no last-minute reprieve. Mr Chapman said the board's decision had been precipitated by the approaching retirement of the manager Jack Asher and his wife Jean, who is in charge of catering. He said: We felt it would be unfair to recruit a new couple, uproot them and install them only to close in a year or so's time. The museum is home to around 50 cars, all on loan from private owners, who will now have to find somewhere else to store and maintain their vehicles. It is described as an intensely personal collection of vintage and post-vintage thoroughbreds. Some of its exhibits are as old as motoring itself. The collection ranges from the second oldest Rolls in the world, owned by the Scottish RAC, to a Sinclair C5 - Sir Clive Sinclair's ill-fated electric car. The closure, effective from November, will mean the loss of three full-time jobs and eight seasonal posts, and it's feared it will also hit local businesses.
Just 28 years later, circumstances and visitor numbers were such that the museum was to close its doors on November 30, 1998, and the pictured print was signed by the manager as a gift to the writer, who had been a regular visitor during the life of the museum, as a memento of the last visit on November 29, 1998.
For a number of reasons, this was to become a particularly sad day. Although I may not be particularly memorable, it became clear that the regular shop staff had come to recognise the writer's mother over the years as we were regular visitors, especially to the numerous Classic Car events hosted on the museum site. It was strange for us to be wandering through the displays alone, as the staff remained at what can only be described as a 'respectable' distance to allow a last set of photographs to be taken, and the display descriptions to be read for the last time. As it was November, the cafeteria had long bee closed, so there was no option of a final cup of tea, and the shelves in the shop was all but bare. The last few mementos we picked up were trivial, and as with the last visit to the museum, were on the house. It was hard to look back down the long access road towards the museum, and understand that these visits were over, and would never happen again, having been a regular event for almost thirty years, probably since the museum came into existence, or not long thereafter.
A few of the items are shown here, there used to be more, but they were generally given away as token gifts in earlier years, without realising that there soon wouldn't be any replacements. Other items included the usual bookmarks, erasers, notepads and phone indexes, all with the museum name or logo added.
The shop sold many of the more usual items, tea towels, tartan scarves, assorted preserves and sweets, all based on Scottish themes. Displays of silver jewellery were on show for the more affluent, based on Scottish gemstones and styles, with a few motoring related items included. For the enthusiasts, there was a small selection of motoring booklets, model cars (die-cast), and wall posters featuring cars such as the Lamborghini Countach, which occasionally appeared on loan for display in the museum.
The museum hosted a number of regular events during its open season, and these were always detailed in a small leaflet distributed throughout the year. The leaflet images feature three variations seen over the years 1994, 1995, and 1996. Ironically, the 1995 leaflet commemorated the museum's 25th anniversary.
Events were held in the field adjacent to the museum building, with copious car parking being provided in the adjoining field. This arrangement worked well, but could suffer from the effects of Scotland's weather, particularly at the year's inaugural event in early April (the Autojumble) which was always well attended. Departing on such wet days could be problematic. Entry and exit was provided by a single gate, and after hundreds of cars had been obliged to pass over the same stretch of land in both directions, one was grateful for the help of the marshals (and other volunteers) to negotiate those last few yard of field and make it to the road. The farmer was usually on hand too, complete with tractor and ancient, but efficient, tow-rope.
This list of events from 1993 shows a typical year at Doune.
- Motor Racing Hill Climb
- Radio Controlled Aeroplanes
- Classic Club Gymkhana
- Volkswagen Rally
- MG Owners Club Rally
- Motor Racing Hill Climb
- Steam Rally
- Scottish Ford Day Rally
- Scottish Austin 7 Owners Club Rally
- The Messerschmitt Owners Club Rally
- Citroen Rally
- Motor Cycle Rally
- Alvis Owners Club Rally
- Classic Car Rally
- Motor Racing Hill Climb
The Doune Collection
This was a small booklet purchased in 1987. It has no publication date, and the content comprises black and white images of a few cars from the collection, together with a short descriptive text, and details of the museum's location and facilities.
The opening text reads:
In the summer of 1953 an advertisement appeared in one of the motoring magazines offering a 1934 Type 26 Hispano-Suiza for sale. This sounded exactly what the Earl of Moray (then Lord Doune) was looking for to supplement the rather restricted comforts of the Plus Four Morgan which was his everyday transport. A visit to London followed and the Hispano met his requirements as to condition, appearance and price; exotic cars such as this were not in demand at that time and were inexpensive to buy. The car was purchased and driven back to Doune in Perthshire where it became the first car of what subsequently developed into the Doune Collection.
The Hispano was motored many thousands of miles and several years passed before another purchase was made. In 1961 the Invicta and Abbot Bentley were added; in 1962 the SS 100 Jaguar and a 8 CM Maserati joined the stable for use as Hill Climbing competition cars.
It was never part of Lord Moray's original intention to have a motor museum; however, as the years passed and the number of cars grew, the housing of them and consequent protection from damp became an increasing problem; at the same time motoring enthusiasts were showing an increased interest in the collection. It soon became apparent that the ideal solution would be to house the cars together under one roof, in a heated building where they could be properly looked after, and eventually be out on show to the public. In this way the idea of the museum gradually took shape. The opening of the Doune Hill Climb Course in 1968, and the success which attended this venture, finally secured the position, and in 1969 work started in the farm buildings adjacent to the Hill Climb Course to convert them for display purposes. The museum opened in the spring of 1970.
In the late 1960s several interesting cars were purchased to supplement the collection, but in the main it represents a purely personal choice, and the cars are almost all in running condition or in the process of being restored. Those cars listed in this brochure but not on display are probably licensed for the road and in daily use, being restored, or in the case of the racing cars, away competing at vintage race meetings. However, in recent years the collection has been augmented, and its interest widened, by the loan of several specially selected cars from private owners. These loans are included in the current brochure.
The collection is in no way supposed to present a motoring theme or any particular aspect of motoring development; it is simply an assembly of attractive cars, covering the period 1905 to 1968, each in its own way a part of motoring history.
List of Cars
- Aston Martin Le Mans, 1934
- Aston Martin 2 litre 15/98, 1937
- Aston Martin DB24 Mk3, 1958
- Aston Martin DB4, 1961
- BMW 328, 1938
Cost £300 new when bought for use in Hungary. Imported into Britain in 1939, the import duty was approximately £100.
- Bentley Speed Six 6 1/2 litre, 1929
171 were produced.
- Bentley 8 litre, 1930
Only 100 were built.
- Bentley 3 1/2 litre, 1934
- Bentley 4 1/4 litre, 1934
- Bentley 'R' Type, 1952
- Bugatti type 57C, 1938
Featured a supercharger, fingertip electrical Cotal gearbox, top speed 105 mph. First owner was Canadian millionaire Sir Duncan Orr-Lewis.
- Citroen 5CV, 1923
- Cooper Alta Ray Martin, 1953
- Daimler Conquest Roadster, 1956
- Ford GT 40, 1965
- Ferrari Dino, 1973
- HRG, 1952
- Healy 3000 Mk 1, 1961
- Hispano-Suiza 37.2 h.p., 1924
- Hispano-Suiza Ballot, 1934
- Invicta 4 1/2 litre, 1933
The low chassis variant, only 77 were built.
- Iso Grifo, 1968
- Jaguar SS 100, 1937
- Jaguar XK 120, 1951
- Jaguar 'E' Type, 1974
- Jaguar Broadspeed, 1976
- Lagonda V-12, 1937
- Lanchester Coupe, 1932
- Maserati 6C, 1937
- Maserati 2 1/2 litre A6 GCM/250F, 1954
- Mercedes 300 SL, 1957
- MG 18/80, 1930
- MG J2, 1932
- MG PB, 1935
- MG TD 2, 1953
- Morgan Plus Four, 1951
- Nardi Danese, 1947
- Rally, 1929
- Riley Nine Lincock, 1934
- Rolls-Royce Three-Cylinder, 1905
Second oldest Rolls-Royce in the world, last survivor of only six made by Royce Ltd. The car was almost scrapped on the owner's order after being damaged by a horse in 1920, but this was disobeyed and the car was hidden away instead.
- Rolls-Royce 20/25, 1933
- Rolls-Royce 40/50 Phantom II Continental, 1935
Six cylinders, 7.6 litres, 2.5 tons, 10-14 mpg, chassis £2,000 plus body £1,000.
- Rolls-Royce 25/30, 1937
- Sunbeam 3 litre, 1913
A replica of the earlier French Grand Prix racers. This car was bought new in 1913 for the son of a Galloway family. When he was killed in 1914 or 1915, during the First World War, his mother ordered that the car be buried. It received its first Log Book in 1974, having been recovered after being struck by a plough. The engine was still free, and after restoration, the car went on to take part in hill climbs, including Doune, and other events.
- Volvo P1800S, 1966
- Robinson and Price Motor Bicycle, 1903
- Douglas Racing Motorcycle, 1912
- Sunbeam Solo Motorcycle, 1927
After the museum closed, the events which had been taking place in the fields next to the museum building were forced to find a new venue.
The Callander Classic Weekend was hosted in the area of Ben Ledi Park, a few minutes from the centre of Callander for a few years, then moved to Ayrshire, and Culzean Castle, to become the Culzean Autoclassica. 
From the two reference noted, and from discussions elsewhere, it seems that the later events did not survive past their initial shows, with suggestions that there were disagreements between the organisers and participants. As there is only hearsay regarding these circumstances, with no first-hand knowledge, no more will be repeated in this article, other than to note the accounts of others can be found online.
Although the writer had attended all the events up to the closure of the Doune Museum, it was not possible to continue this attendance to any of the subsequent events, so it is unfortunately not possible to provide any personal insight.
1 ⇑ Motor museum at end of the road - Herald Scotland | Sport | SPL | Aberdeen Retrieved September 30, 2011.
- ScotVOC.co.uk • View topic - Doune Motor Museum Retrieved September 30, 2011. Dead link 2016.
- Popular-Classics :: View topic - Doune Motor Museum Retrieved September 30, 2011.
- Photos from the Callander Classic Retrieved September 30, 2011. Dead link 2016.
The aerial view shows the car park and former museum building, with the hill climb route looping around to the north.
The marker points at the main building which housed the Doune Collection itself.
The larger section added to the centre of the west wall was the restaurant and cafeteria, while the smaller extension off the south west corner was the museum shop.
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