In this series, I visit out of the way automotive venues which provide a sanctuary for the petrolhead, a feast for all the senses and which make the shortlist for “My Car Heaven on Earth”.
Set in open countryside on a narrow back road, a couple of miles north of the picturesque Cotswold village of Bibury, sits a handful of buildings now known as The Classic Motor Hub.
Historically part of RAF Bibury, a Second World War fighter airfield, one of the showroom areas is in a curved blister hangar once home to Hawker Hurricanes. The main buildings; a series of showroom garages, workshops and offices form a journey of automotive discovery beginning (or ending depending on which door you see first) at a small shop and café. Throughout the site there are artworks, posters, signs and other automobilia creating a nostalgic, visual setting for the cars in stock and on display.
Fundamentally, The Classic Motor Hub is a car sales and storage business – and would-be buyers usually make an appointment so that the relevant car can be extricated from the showroom and prepped. On the day I visited, a recreation of a Fox and Nicholl 1934 M45 Lagonda Le Mans racer sat outside the blister hangar ready for an international client to take for a spin in the autumn sunshine.
There are cars on sale to suit most enthusiast’s wallets ranging from a late ‘90s Mercedes SL320 to ex-Works Aston Martin Le Mans racers from the ‘20s and ‘30s. The stock spans almost a century of motoring, from a 1909 Benz Sporting Tourer to a 2007 Bentley Continental Flying Spur. The sheer variety on offer means it is pretty much guaranteed there will be something to catch your eye and – with the heady aromatic cocktail of petrol, engine oil and leather – your nose too.
Catching my eye were the “his and hers” Ferrari Testarossas in red or yellow (mine would be the latter) and the Moonbeam Aston Martin V8 sat in front. Also, slightly quirkier but amazing value, a Michelotti-styled Lancia Flavia convertible recently restored by nearby marque specialists Thornley Kelham.
A coffee and a browse
Once you’ve finished ogling the hardware and whilst one of the team is making your latte and cutting you some home-made cake, take a few minutes to appreciate the curation effort that’s gone into stocking the Hub shop. All manner of tasteful motor-themed clothing, books, curios and gifts sit alongside branded Hub merchandise. In between sips and mouthfuls, flick through a copy of Motor Mart, the Hub’s own publication. It’s both fun and informative and written in the style of motoring weeklies from yesteryear like The Exchange & Mart and also borrowing heavily in places from the small ads pages of Viz!
Given the large areas of hard standing, a throw-back to its aeronautical past, the site also lends itself to car shows and club meets. The location is well off the beaten track so the Hub began running its own events to create more buzz and get its name out there as a destination. These special days are great events and typically sell out well in advance but the Hub is also open to people just dropping by for a coffee and a browse Tuesday to Friday 9am-5pm and 10am-3pm Saturday.
The Classic Motor Hub is well worth working into a Cotswold driving itinerary or as a destination in itself. I’ve dropped in to the Hub twice now and both times I’ve been given a friendly welcome and directed to wide open showrooms to explore at my pleasure.
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