American car collector and philanthropist Peter Mullin has submitted plans for a £150 million car museum in Oxfordshire. Billed as a world class destination for historic vehicle enthusiasts, the Mullin at Great Tew is to feature 200 classic cars across a broad spectrum of tastes.
If the outlying proposal is successful, 100 jobs would be created on the 160 acre brownfield site of Enstone Airfield, including an apprenticeship scheme to service and restore the cars kept in the museum. Found within the Great Tew estate, land around Enstone Airfield, once a wartime RAF airstrip, was used during the last series of The Grand Tour.
Mullin’s track record in the USA is impeccable: at present he serves as chairman of the Petersen and Mullin Automotive Museums in California. The former institution, founded by Hot Rod magazine creator Robert E Petersen, curates a broad spectrum of motoring history from hot rods to modern hypercars; the latter museum, Mullin’s own, is a multi million dollar private collection of French art deco vehicles. His most notable car, a Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, was recently voted the best of its kind in the world.
The museum would join two well-known facilities in Oxfordshire if approved – namely Bicester Heritage and the British Motor Museum. Fully developed, the museum would also be served by an exercise road for its 200 exhibits, 25 of which are to be comprised from Peter Mullin’s personal collection and other museums, including that of The Petersen and holiday lodge owners, 28 of which are planned for the site.
The Mullin hopes to attract car collectors and encourage them to display their wares inside the museum. The lodges are key to the project: their sale will generate £12.7 million towards The Mullin’s budget.
Bentley Motors is also on board; the Mullin has a Show Lane planned for the firm’s events and product launches, along with workshops and a Bentley Pavilion for new car customers.
Spread across four floors totalling 60,000 feet, visitors could expect to see a broad range of cars on display, from vintage machines to classic and modern vehicles. If made operational, the museum plans to demonstrate its collection on a daily basis giving passenger rides; said exercise road would track through developed parkland. An underground storage area would create another 50,000 square foot of space.
The Mullin also wants to establish itself as a learning hub. “Great emphasis will also be placed on interactivity and the very latest virtual reality technology to bring the exhibits to life. The Mullin will collaborate and partner with leading universities, and learning and entertainment organisations such as Pixar, Microsoft and Disney,” a project spokesperson confirmed. Interactivity plays a large role in guiding visitors at The Petersen Museum in Los Angeles; with the proposed close links being touted, there’s no reason why a similar system couldn’t be implemented in the UK.
Having existed on the drawing board for two years, the Mullin at Great Tew has had to overcome objections from local residents concerned about noise, redevelopment and extra traffic.
“The argument was made for affordable housing to be built on the land but the impact created from such a development would be massive compared to the museum,” the project spokesperson continued. Early on, project leaders also decided on a pre-booked, 3 hour slot system for museum guests – which went some way to earning local approval.
The Mullin’s leaders also calmed fears that it would be built on sensitive land. ‘Nothing is being built on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or on greenfield,’ a statement read. ‘In fact, the museum, exercise road, and Bentley pavilion will all be located within the existing Vision Motor Sport commercial site. And the majority of the holiday lodges will sit within farmland that was once inside the perimeter fence of the original Second World War RAF base,’ it concluded.
With ‘Motorsport Valley’ in the vicinity of the proposed museum site, The Mullin would be close to Formula 1 and top-level motorsport businesses, along with a large concentration of the British car industry – Aston Martin, MINI and Jaguar Land Rover. ‘The Mullin would be most innovative and progressive development of its type in the UK for decades’, its developers assert.
If all goes to plan, The Mullin at Great Tew would open its doors to guests in late 2020 or early 2021. Fingers crossed…