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Le Mans Car Museum

by  Peter Radcliffe



In a small Shropshire village there is one of the finest museums of Le Mans cars to be found anywhere in the world. Whilst Donington Park is mainly single seaters this museum is devoted to Le Mans cars, in fact at my recent visit the only exceptions were an ERA and a couple of transporters. The collection is even more specialised in that it covers the "golden years" 1949-1965. All the cars are from this period except the quite beautiful 1938 Alfa 2900B in which Raymond Sommer and Clemente Biondetti so nearly won.

The museum contains 14 winners from the 49-65 period, only the 58, 63 and 65 winners are missing. Not all the cars featured were successful; in fact some were very notable non-finishers. The most recent addition to the collection was the Talbot Lago driven single handedly by Pierre Levegh in 1952, from almost hero of France he became despised after breaking down in the final hour whilst in the lead. The next car in the museum will be the even less successful Talbot Maserati of Bruce Halford and Franco Bordoni, which broke a halfshaft leaving the start line, perhaps the most beautiful and least successful Le Mans car ever. All however convey the feel of Le Mans of that period, The small cars that featured in the Index Of Performance, DB and Lotus XI, oddities such as the Rover BRM. The American muscle cars from Cunningham and aerodynamic creations such as the Maserati Tipo 61 from 1960 and the 1957 Costin bodied 450S and the Bristol 450's. The cross over period from the pre-war cycle wing cars to the post war all enveloping cars is covered by the Alfa 2900B and Embiricos Bentley both built in 1938 as the first of the new and the 1950 Talbot Lago and Allard as the last of the old. The end of the period saw the beginning of the rear engine domination and the collection features 1958 Porsche RSK and the Lola MKVI which was the forerunner of the Ford GT40.


The Museum as can be seen from the pictures is at present somewhat bare as it was only completed this Christmas, until that date the collection had been stored in several different locations. The first posters and other regalia can be seen on the walls but more are in preparation. Perhaps further wings will have to be added as the collection grows but at present there is space for perhaps another ten cars. New subjects are constantly being sought, after the Talbot Maserati it is planned to add the Tony Rolt-Duncan Hamilton D type Jaguar of 1954 to the collection.


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The Curator

The curator and creator of this collection is Tim Dyke. Tim retired from the rat race of accountancy to form MPH models. He produces a limited edition of at first 20 but now 25 exquisite models. The first 20 of the series were gradually more modified kits from Starter or Provence Moulage.

In this first group 20 or 25 kits were each altered and corrected individually but as the modifications became more extreme and numerous one kit served 

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Mr. Tim Dyke

as a (sub-master) and new masters were produced. The first D Type Jaguar the 1957 Winner had 7 modifications or special features; the Allard J2 had 271. The Elva BMW and Embiricos Bentley were mastered from scratch. The modifications can be very major; the Aston Martin 215 involved a lengthening of the body in front of the screen by nearly 0.5-cm. The 1952 Talbot required the cockpit moving back and the positions of the wheel arches moving as well as changes to the wing shapes and nose profile. The Talbot Maserati has been lengthened and deepened from the original donor and by the time modifications have been completed it would often be impossible to recognise the projects origins. 


Tim is fanatical about his research and has been of assistance at times when the real car has been restored.

The restored Rover BRM was painted the wrong green and reupholstered in the wrong colour! The 1964 Iso Grifo A3c has about 1100 exposed rivets, the restorer of an original car bought a model to see where they all went! The detail is extraordinary, The photoetch pedals on the AC Cobra are engraved with the AC logo, The Chassis plate on the dash of the 450S Maserati could be read if you have sufficient magnification and the gate on the preselector gear changes of the Talbot Lagos is engraved with MA (marche arriere) PM (pointe mort) and 1, 2,3 and 4.


Even the publicity pictures are works of art, initially the editor of a well known International classic car magazine initially refused to publish the picture of the Rover BRM model as he said he would not publish a picture of the real car in the model section. To create the photograph the model is placed exactly in front of the picture of the real car, the only difference is that the grey haired official in the blue jacket is in the original position obscuring the number 31 as he was on the same side of the car as the photographer!Tim is a true English eccentric gentleman whose creations are greatly treasured and usually an issue is sold completely to his regular customers. If however you would like to join the waiting list for a future model please contact me and I will pass your interest on to Tim. Computers and E-mail have no place for a man still rooted in the past!


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Index of pictures
1 & 2 Newly finished Ferrari 330 TRI Lm winner 1962 17 Embiricos Bentley 1949
3 Porsche 718 RSK 1958 18 Mercedes SLR 1955
4 Cunningham C4RK 1953 19 Mercedes SLR 1955
5 Lola MKVI 1963 20 Iso Grifo 1964
6 The new Museum 21 Maserati 450s 1957
7 The Museum 22 Maserati 450S Costin Coupe 1957
8 Jaguar C Type 1952 24 Talbot Mods
9 Talbot Lago 1952 25 Talbot Mods
10 Ferrari 330TRI 1962 26 Talbot Mods
11 ERA 27 Talbot Fuel filler
12 Rover BRM 1965 28 Talbot photoetch with preselector quadrant
13 Alfa TZ2 1965 29 Talbot Dash
14 Museum 30 Talbot dash
15 AC Ace Bristol 1959 31 The Rover BRM picture
16 Alfa 2900B 1939