Classic Motoring Photographs

What a lot we owe Bill Brunell. A professional photographer in the glass plate era of the 1920s and 1930s, he left a unique record of crisp, beautifully detailed pictures of a motoring age long gone. The Motoring Picture Library has added 5,000 images from the National Motor Museum’s Bill Brunell Photographic Collection to its website

The model with her head through the sunroof of the Singer 8 Junior is most likely Brunell’s daughter, Kitty, who features in many of the photographs, and drove in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1928 with her father in his Singer Junior. They started from John o’Groats but retired. She competed in 1929 driving a Talbot 14/45 for which she designed the body. It became known as the Sportsman’s Coupe and Talbot was so impressed that it built another car for her for 1930, known as ‘Kitty II’. She married veteran competitor Ken Hutchinson.

Bill Brunell was co-driver to the Hon Victor Bruce in 1926 when they became the first Englishmen to win the Monte Carlo Rally and worked for the Ministry of Information and secret intelligence in the First World War.
Motoring Picture Library Manager, Jon Day said: “Brunell’s photography is an evocative reminder of the golden age of British motoring, capturing perfectly the mood and spirit of the era. From street and social scenes to events, trials and rallies throughout Great Britain and Europe, Brunell’s images are an important historical record with artistic merit in their own right.It has taken NMM staff and volunteers over three years to digitise the glass plate negatives. The originals have subsequently been re-packaged and archived.The Beaulieu Motoring Picture Library with an archive of over a million images, is one of the most comprehensive sources of motoring photographs in the world. It supplies pictures to enthusiasts and commercially to publishing, broadcasting and advertising.

The works racing Austin Seven team (above) of Bert Hadley and Charles Goodacre at Brooklands with Kay Petre in car nearest Brunell’s camera.