“ Address: Beaulieu Enterprises Ltd / John Montagu Building / Beaulieu / Brockenhurst / Hampshire / England / SO42 7ZN / Tel: 01590 612345 „
The World of Top Gear is one of the exhibitions at Beaulieu Motor Museum in Hampshire.
The first exhibition that you arrive at as you walk through the doors is the World of top Gear; it is to the right of the main path by the Monorail station.
The outside exhibit area had some easily recognisable vehicles from the show. I am not the greatest fan of the show but I did recognise some of the cars and my son filled me in on the details. There was Jeremy Clarksons Mercedes Cottage, the Motorhomes, the cars for train tracks and the highlight was the Indestructible Hilux which even I recognised. The other easy to spot exhibits were Reliant Robin Rocket and the Snowbine harvester. Having seen the real space shuttle take off I must admit that the Reliant Robin did make me smile.
The inside area was closed and we were told everything else would open at 10.30 so we came back to the area a bit later. I was a bit disappointed by what I felt was a lack of exhibits but I agreed to come back to see inside the dome. In the meantime we had a look around some of the other exhibits and attractions.
When we got back we headed to the small dome structure and we were told that the show would start in about 10 minutes so we could wait in the corridor. This had boards all along one wall with true and fantasy facts about the show and the presenters which made entertaining reading. There were a few seats along one wall and then I realised that there were a few more cars in a display area. These cars were the ones from the Indian Challenge. Unfortunately, because everyone was waiting to go in and people were sat down in front of the windows you felt a bit awkward standing in front of them to look over them to the exhibits. The only way to see them properly was to come around the queue again when the next show started to have a look at them in comfort.
When the doors opened we want into a small dark room and were told to stand anywhere that we could see a small and large screen. Being more a Richard Hammond size person than a Jeremy Clarkson I stood near the front but actually there was great viewing all around and everybody fitted in easily and I think everyone could see. It was then that I had chance to look around and realised that it was a small mock-up of the Top Gear studio with the Cool Wall, Stig hanging Posters and the Lap times chart. There were also three cars; the Suzuki Ice-Hockey Car, the 24 Hour BMW and the Ski-jump Mini. We were then given a film show made especially for the Beaulieu audience by the presenters. There were lots of clips from the TV show but the whole thing was well done and very tongue-in-cheek and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You were allowed to take photographs inside but unfortunately you didn't get much time, you were pushed in and out quite quickly. We managed to take a quick photo by the Cool wall when my husband realised his car was there (not surprisingly mine wasn't even on the Uncool bit!).
Once we left the show we realised there was an inside exhibition area as well where there were plenty more of the presenters extreme make-over cars. My favourite was the Stretch Fiat Panda which I remembered seeing on the show. The other things I recognised included the Amphibious Cars and the Christmas Specials. This area was quite busy but everyone was very good natured about getting out of the way for photographs so everyone managed to get good pictures.
Outside there was a coin-operated remote-control car track and the Stig Simulator. The simulator was £5 each so even with the 50p voucher that we were given when we entered it would have been quite expensive so we decided to give it a miss.
I ended up being much more impressed with what was on display than I first thought and it was presented in a fun manner that appealed to both adults and children alike. This is only a small part of the Beaulieu Museum which offers a great day out for anyone with even a mild interest in cars.
Harry's a big Top Gear fan, so when it came to finding something to do for his birthday, a visit to Beaulieu's Motor Museum and the Top Gear exhibit there seemed like the perfect thing! We decided not to tell Harry where we going, instead getting him into the car straight after nursery and telling he we were going for his birthday surprise. When we arrived, there wasn't much to point out where we were and Harry was a bit unsure, but he soon spotted a Stig cardboard cutout in the window of the entrance, and he was enthralled! We excitedly went in and headed straight for the Top Gear exhibit, and luckily for us, it was right near the entrance.
As soon as you walk through the Beaulieu entrance, you can see the Top Gear exhibit just down to your right near the monorail ride. You can immediately see the Robin Reliant Rocket that the team made because it's so big, and then the main building (pictured) comes into view. There's also a racing track with some toys cars you can pay to play, cars from the show situated outside, but the main bit has to be the showroom situated alongside the main building. It's this that we chose to go into first because I knew this is where Harry would really want to go.
As you go inside, you're immediately greeted by Jeremy Clarkson's stretch Fiat Punto from the episode where the guys make stretch limousine's from normal cars! It's huge, and being bright red, you can't miss it! Harry was so excited because this is his favourite episode, and he couldn't believe he was seeing these cars for himself! Just next to this was Richard Hammond's stretch MG and opposite was James May's Alfarb (Alfa Romeo and Saab!) limo. It was great to see these cars in real life, and Harry was so happy it made the whole trip worth it!
As well as these cars, there are plenty of others you should recognise too. There is the convertible Renault Megane people carrier set in a dummy car wash (as you may remember from that episode!), and you could also push a button to make the car wash thingys spin around which Harry loved. There were also the bikes that the guys drove through Vietnam in the Vietnam special set in a little fenced off area. Near this were the double decker cars, and it was set up near a television screen showing the episode where the guys raced them so it was good to see that.
Another of Harry's favourites were the amphibious cars. If you watch the show, you'll know there 2 episodes with these as they needed to make 2 each, and there is a mixture of these on display. There is James' initial Herald boat that he made, and from the later episode Jeremy's Toyboata Hilux and Richard's VW Houseboat. Again, Harry loved seeing these, scratches, dents and bumps and all! It was wonderful to see all these cars close up, they are fenced off with signs saying "Please Do Not Touch" as I guess they want to preserve these 1 off cars for years to come.
After we'd spent a fair bit of time in the main exhibit, we decided to go into the building alongside where we could watch a Top Gear video. As you walk in, there are posters down the side wall about all the presenters and various other things, and opposite is another car display, this time behind glass showing the Homemade Police Cars the guys made for another episode, and another selection of cars as well. We had to wait a few minutes for the previous show to finish before we went in but there was plenty to look at so that wasn't a problem. The show ran every 15 minutes so there was many chances to see it.
As you walk in, I was shocked that it was so dark in there. However, it was worth going in to. There was the fastest car board stood there with all the times on it, we did have to have some pictures stood next to it of course! There's also a Stig suit in a cabinet for more picture opportunities! The video started quite quickly but it was a good watch for around 10 minutes. The 3 Top Gear presenters had made a video specifically for the people visiting their exhibit at Beauleiu, and it was a funny 10 minutes, although most of it went over Harry's head, he was happy enough to see clips from the show featuring the cars on display.
After the video, there were a few minutes to visit the other things inside the building. There was the Indestructible Toyota Hilux which was great to see as it really was a wreck! There was the Olympic mini that the guys sent down a ski jump in the Winter Olympics special, the endurance BMW and also the Cool Wall which was fab. The lady in there was very nice and took a picture of us all in front of the Stig and lap times board, which was good of her. It wasn't too busy in there so I guess she had time to do so.
After we were done in there, we moved on to the outside where the infamous Suzuki Liana - famed for its "Star in a Reasonable Priced Car" - is parked. You can get up close with this one which is good, and I found it weirdly small - I expected it to be a lot larger! Next to that is a big picture of the Stig on a wall, its great because you can have lots of pictures next to it to remember your visit. Just around the corner on the back of the exhibit building is another picture of the Top Gear presenters for more photo's, my profile picture is actually Harry standing in front of that!
We were so pleased with the exhibition, especially as that is the main reason we went to the motor museum. We did go around the rest of it, but this was definitely the highlight for Harry, and even know he goes on about what a good day it was. I've made a little photo book of him with all his favourite cars and he loves to sit and look at it when he watches the episodes on the telly which is fantastic for him, he loves telling everyone that he's seen the cars from Top Gear! If you love the show, then you'll love this exhibit and it's definitely worth a visit. We spent an hour in there initially, and even went back just before we left so it isn't just a 5 minute thing at all. It was a fabulous few hours and best of all, Harry loved it and wants to go again!
The Top Gear exhibit is situated at Beaulieu Motor Museum, Southampton. Details of the exhibit can be found here: http://bit.ly/9V6eRI.
It costs £16 for each adult to get into the museum and Harry was free as he is under 5. This is great value for the whole museum, and we managed to get a money off voucher online too so do have a look before you visit.
Thank you for reading.
A fantastic interactive display and show about Top Gear at Beaulieu, in the New Forest.
It may only be a short 10 minute video displayed on big screens but it is well worth visiting. The display of wrecked cars, stigs suits, The lap time list and the 'cool wall' are displayed inside. Even on the journey into the video show are hularious displays of top gear antics.
The cars on display are brilliant! They have the limos from the celebrity awards show episode, The car James May filled with water and drove round the track among many others.
There are three sections of display cars which are totally authentic ruined-by-the-boys cars and great top gear memorabilia on display.
The only down side is that for safety reasons pushchairs are not allowed into the video dome complex so there is a pushchair bay outside guarded by a member of beaulieu's staff.
Wheelchairs are able to go inside though so no worries there.
I throughly recommend visiting it if you are a fan or even just a moderate appreciator like myself