The museum at Gaydon, a village 30 km. south of Coventry, has its origins in the tortuous takeovers that characterised the British industry in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. British Leyland Motor Holdings brought together in 1968 the British Motor Corporation (the result of an earlier merger of the Austin and Morris companies) with Leyland, the then highly successful manufacturer of commercial vehicles in Lancashire.
In 1975 the company established the Leyland Historic Vehicles Collection, which by 1979 was a self-funding operation and in 1983 became a charitable trust, the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust. Its vehicles were displayed at Studley, a former agricultural college in Warwickshire and at Syon House, a mansion west of London that is open to the public. In 1993 the collections were brought together in a purpose-designed museum set in 26 ha. of grounds on a former RAF airfield where British Leyland had a test track, and where Aston Martin now has its manufacturing base. The museum proved popular and a substantial re-display took place in 2007. It now holds more than 300 motor cars. Originally the main emphasis of the collection was on marques that had been incorporated into British Leyland, but the re-display gave an opportunity to include cars made by other important but unrelated British manufacturers, such as Ford, Vauxhall, Bentley, Aston Martin and Morgan, as well as the products of Japanese companies with factories in England. The museum offers an archives service to the owners of classic cars. It holds a large collection of pictures, and operates restoration workshops.