We should have been warned!

Yesterday I visited the London Motor Museum.  I suspected something was amiss when I noticed I was the only one not on the payroll who had walked through the doors of the “museum”.  I paid my ten (!) pounds to the young man who quickly closed whatever internet window he wasn’t supposed to be watching on the computer at his desk, and was eager to see what interesting displays might await me beyond the double red doors.

As I first walked in, I was standing in front of a pair of silver vintage Porsches: a 356 speedster and 917 RSK.

exhibit number 1…

…and 2 for the prosecution

Not a bad start, but they both seemed a tad ratty.

Luckily, I noticed just beyond them sat one of my favorite Ferraris of the 1970s (and in sharing this opinion I’ll be destroying my credibility with my automotively-informed friends to admit that this model qualifies for such a list), the bertone-designed Dino GT4.

bertone sleekness

I moved in to take a closer look and immediately spotted them.  They weren’t just the wrong wheels. Nope. This was the automotive accessorizing equivalent of painting a mustache on Mona.  This was an egregious failure in the automotive aftermarket.

The Dino GT4 was designed by Carrozzeria Bertone, a Turin-based automotive design powerhouse.  When it was launched, this car offered concept-car sleekness in a production 2+2. Lucky dads around the world purchased this vehicle using the “honey, we can fit the kids in the back” justification.  I always admired how well the wheels (presumably also selected in consultation with Nuccio Bertone himself) fit the car.  They were the perfect wheel for this car.  Here’s how they should look:

beautiful dino shoes

What this particular example was sporting instead, were the equivalent of the white alligator-embossed ‘pleather’ loafers worn by a down-on-his-luck pimp.

insipido

I was amazed that someone went to the effort to cast a design so appalling, and that they had the chutzpah to place a prancing horse crest in the center cap. I can only imagine how humiliated the hapless designer of these wheels was to be fired after the product line achieved a whopping 4 units sold (worldwide!) and the other 2,000 units cast had to be scrapped to make room for more “commercially viable” designs.  How fortunate I am to see such a rare wheel in person.  What would Enzo say if he were alive to see what has been done to the car bearing his son’s name ? What’s italian for “Tres guache”?

pacchiano? insapore? insipido?

Glancing at the two Porsches only 5 yards back, I now realized that they weren’t Porsches at all.  The proportions were all wrong. The aluminium skin looked somewhat…heavy. THEY WERE REPLICAS!  Fiberglass facsimiles.  And not particularly good ones at that.  These were budget kit cars and they looked to have been constructed by laid-off Yugo factory workers. They had more glue smudges at the crooked panel edges than on the outside than my 10-year-old-son’s Kindergarden popsicle stick log cabin project.

Just to confirm my suspicions I walked over and looked through the rear vents of the RSK, where the beautiful 1.5 liter 4-cam engine would normally be mounted.  Where I expected to find Stuttgart’s diminutive mechanical masterpiece, there was mounted instead a rusted out VolksWagen powerplant that probably hadn’t been running since “Mork and Mindy” was in its premiere broadcast season.

Someone’s nicked the 4 cam and replaced it with a hamster wheel

I quickly walked through several adjacent rooms as my spirits sank lower and lower.  This wasn’t a museum–It was a fraud being perpetrated on unsuspecting tourists.  I began to appreciate why I was the only one in the museum for the hour or two I was there.

Disgusted with the whole experience and the many hours I had already squandered on this trip, I walked out.  I may have been ensnared by the coyote trap that is the London Motor Museum, but I have chewed off my trapped limb to make my escape.  I was so profoundly disappointed I would gladly consider chewing off the other limbs to ensure it never happens again.

Now back outside the “museum” in the beautiful Spring London sunshine, I could feel my mood beginning to improve.  I was half way back to the Hayes train station when I suddenly realized what a colossal mistake I was about to make.  I have an obligation to my fellow automotive enthusiasts, those obsessed men and women who would squander a beautiful half-day in one of the world’s most beautiful and interesting cities to look at driving machines.  I must protect the others and I would need evidence for those I wished to protect.  I must subject myself to another painful visit to this offensive establishment.   I must go back and take pictures.

3 Comments

  1. Comment by robf:

    Nightmare!!! You should have asked for your money back. You need to go to Beaulieu – home of the National Auto Museum – world class.

  2. Comment by Paul:

    Having recently visited the excellent Malaga Motor Museum, I pressed ‘Buy’ as soon as the London Motor Museum offer appeared in my inbox from one of the voucher sites. However I never got to visit before the voucher expired. Many thanks for ensuring that I’m now relieved that I failed to get there in time.

  3. Comment by admin:

    Paul – you have no idea how fortunate you are. There are so many good automotive museums all over the world–any one of them is better than the London Motor Museum. Thanks for your comment and Happy Motoring!

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