The Rootes Archive Centre Trust has moved into its new purpose-built Archive Centre building near Banbury, less than two years after the Building Fund was launched at the 2015 Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show.

The centre houses many precious records from the Rootes and Chrysler UK operation, including a large quantity of material rescued in 2004 from the former Rootes Engineering Department at Humber Road, Coventry.

This includes the complete library of engineering drawings from the early 1960s to the end of the Chrysler era in the early 1980s, including anything from the late Fifties that was modified in the Sixties, so there’s a lot for Minx, Rapier, Gazelle and Humber ranges, plus full sets of drawings relating to Imps, Avengers and the Hunter range.

There are drawings and specifications for all chassis and body items including mechanical, electrical, and interior pieces such as soft trim. Besides historical research, material of this kind is vital for practical purposes connected with preservation; remanufacture of unavailable parts now has a datum point.

In all, the Trust believes the collection runs to at least 150,000 items stored in 47 4 foot x 3 foot metal cabinets, a dozen filing cabinets and 75 ft of 8 ft high racking containing original drawings.

The card index catalogue alone fills 92 drawers, and there’s also a microfiche catalogue of earlier material dating back to 1934.

Since being rescued, the collection has been stored at various temporary locations around Oxfordshire, but has had no permanent home and access has of necessity been restricted. However the new centre, on Wroxton’s Apollo Park, belongs to the Trust and access and storage conditions will be much improved.

The records were moved into the new building at the end of October. Building and kitting out cost £185,000, of which the trust has raised £105,000 through individual and club donations, and secured loans, repayable over five years, for the remaining £80,000.

An official Grand Opening will be taking place on Sunday April 22 2018 – Drive it Day – and all Rootes enthusiasts are welcome; apparently over 100 Rootes cars are expected along with senior members of the Rootes family and numerous ex-employees.

The Trust is also still seeking donations to repay the outstanding loans. To find out more about the Trust and its activities log on to The Rootes Archive Centre Trust