motoring picture library

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About us

Welcome to the Motoring Picture Library at Beaulieu

Thank you for viewing our website, we greatly appreciate your custom.

Our website contains many thousands of images for you to view and use and has many thousands more scheduled for uploading. But we have nearly one million motoring images not yet digitised, so if you can't find what you are looking for give us a call.

MPL is one of the largest motoring picture collections in the world, with close to 100,000 colour transparencies and nearly one million black and white photographs filed and catalogued with thousands of digital originals. Its subject matter includes cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles; the motor industry, motor sport, the social history of motoring, and a huge range of motoring and motor sport personalities. It also includes spectacular motoring art in the form of sales brochures, posters and paintings.

The Motoring Picture Library based at Beaulieu is a living library, constantly expanding and very much in touch with current motoring news and products - with staff photographers covering motor shows, motor sports events and a wide range of new vehicles, both on location and in the Department's own drive-in professional digital studio. So even if the subject you require isn't in stock, more often than not we can shoot it for you.

The aim of MPL is to offer a fast, efficient and competitive service to every user, whether they be a major publisher or advertising agency, a public service, a broadcaster, or perhaps a car club or even an individual. In every case we are here to make sure you have the best chance of finding what you're looking for.

Picture researchers are welcome to visit in person, by prior appointment only.

Reference Library

From the earliest days of the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, providing research and information services to both professional and amateur enthusiasts has been a key part of the Museum's life. In 1960 the ever growing archive became the original Reference Library; in 1972, with the opening of the new Museum complex, it moved into purpose built accommodation as the BP Library of Motoring; then in 1989 it gained even more space, in the new Trust Centre - the Library has continued to grow into what many believe is now one of the world's finest motoring and transport reference sources, used by people all over the world on a daily basis.


The Reference Library houses many thousands of books covering all aspects of motoring. Many of these are rare and historic publications which are no longer readily available elsewhere and are thus invaluable to authors and researchers alike. As with other aspects of the organisation, the Library is a dynamic institution and new works are constantly being added to the collection.

Magazines and periodicals

Amongst the Library's most treasured possessions is its collection of periodicals. These include a complete run of The Autocar from 1895 to the present day, and almost complete runs of other leading periodicals including Light Car & Cycle Car, The Motor, Car Illustrated, Autosport, Commercial Motor, Motor Cycle, and Motor Cycling.

A master index gives rapid access to the information contained in many of these magazines. Maintaining the index is a major task as the Library continues to receive on a regular basis over 300 titles of all types, including many club magazines and newsletters.

Sales literature and manuals

Another invaluable resource for the researcher and vehicle restorer is the collection of over 50,000 original sales catalogues and press releases covering cars, commercial vehicles and motorcycles, together with around 15,000 instruction books, parts lists, and workshop manuals. As with the other collections held by the Library, these cover the entire history of motoring from the earliest pioneering days right up to the present, and the collection continues to grow as items covering new models are added.

Film & Video Library

Film is a transient medium and already much historic motoring film has been lost forever. Recognising the threat to surviving material, the National Motor Museum established the Film Library in 1979. Its initial aim was the collection and conservation of motion picture film on all aspects of motoring. There are now many thousands of films in the archive, many of which have been preserved for future generations by transferring the images onto stable modern film stock. Collection of film continues and the video holdings are increasing rapidly.

The Library has now installed its own broadcast standard telecine facility for transferring film to video in-house. Customer work is welcomed and clients for this service include the BBC, Ford Motor Company, The Automobile Association and the Metropolitan Police. The machinery is particularly adapted to handle the vagaries of old film and is able to restore colour where time has faded it out. The Film and Video Department also has a High Definition Spirit telecine giving the ability to transfer film to full HD.

Drive-in Digital Studio Hire

MPL has its own fully equipped drive-in studio situated in the grounds of the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. It is available for hire on its own or with our own highly experienced staff photographer and is suitable for still photography, including cars or bikes, and film work.

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