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The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum Part 1 – With Phil Aynsley

I spent a day and a half taking photos in the Barber Museum back in 2014 and this is the first of a multi part look at this mind-blowing collection. I’ll start with an overview then work my way though the various themed sections within the collection.

One thing I should point out is that an adjoining, very large new building is nearing completion which will add 7,900 sq/m to the existing 13,400 sq/m of museum floor space you see here!

Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley

George Barber originally started in the diary business, but then was bitten by the car racing bug, successfully racing Porsches during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Later, in 1988, he started restoring and collecting classic cars but turned to motorcycles in the early ‘90s and opened his collection to the public in its original location in downtown Birmingham, Alabama in 1995.

The current facility was opened in 2003 near Leeds, Alabama and apart from the museum includes a world-class 3.8km racetrack.

Only a bit over half of the 1400 bike collection was able to be displayed at one time in the museum however – hence the new expansion. The museum is recognised as the world’s largest by the Guinness Book of Records. His collection of Lotuses is also the largest private collection in the world.

Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – the museum display is four floors, with a basement workshop. Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Even with all the space visible not all bikes are able to be displayed – Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley

The museum is laid out over four floors (open to the public) plus a basement workshop. An elevator surrounded by four, floor to ceiling stacks of bikes forms the core, around which spirals a gigantic concrete ramp.

Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – motorcycle tree displays – Image: Phil Aynsley

Elsewhere in the museum are multi-story “trees” of bikes.

Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – American board racers – Image: Phil Aynsley

The early American area also includes a large number of board racers.

Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley

Two views of the main racing bike display. Many of the bikes are shown on a section of “Daytona banking”.

Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley

The museum has a special relationship with Giancarlo Morbidelli and as a result a considerable number of his bikes have their own display area.

Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – the Giancarlo Morbidelli display – Image: Phil Aynsley

One nice touch is that nearly all the bikes are displayed in a very ‘clean’ fashion supported by thin steel cables.

Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – clean displays allow unimpeded views – Image: Phil Aynsley

Small capacity Italian machinery.

Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – Image: Phil Aynsley

Various themed displays. The multi-story windows overlook the racetrack.

Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – stored motorcycles – Image: Phil Aynsley

Part of the collection not on display (although the new building should rectify that!).

Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum - Image: Phil Aynsley
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – the museum includes a collection of Lotus race cars – Image: Phil Aynsley

Some of the many Lotuses in their own area.