Special exhibits can offer insight into the automotive industry, and one of the newest can be viewed at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon. Motor Mouths paints a diverse picture of the motor landscape, covering high-tech manufacturing plants and heritage vehicles. Created by photographer Richard Jones, the audiovisual project focuses on Morgan, Vauxhall and Bentley. There are over 200,000 images on display, with portraits being cut into several layers to create a 3D effect, also known as the parallax effect.
The installation features hand-built, wooden-framed Morgan cars and the impact of factory closure at Longbridge. The Vauxhall factory is also featured prominently. The plant produces 37.5 vehicles per hour, with a car taking six hours to construct once the steel is pressed. Dave Owens, a robot operator and mechanic in the body shop at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant said “we are all robots; we are all creatures of habit. I do what the robots do: I park in the same place, come through the door at the same time, change in the same gear every day…I follow a pattern. The only thing is, we have to teach the robots the pattern to take.”
The Bentley Motors Plant in Crewe is also a prominent fixture. In 2017, the plant produced a record 11,023 cars. Motor Mouths features photographs of the Bentayga model that took 40 hours to build and cost £165,000. Phil Ward, who works in the wood shop said “Bentley is bringing the new robots and that sort of stuff – but even these robots can’t do what we can do. The cars still have to be made by hand on the bench by us.”
The average Morgan car costs about £60,000 and the company have recently brought out an electric version. Even though Morgan is based on traditional wooden frames, the organisation keeps up with the latest technology.
In order for the Motor Mouths exhibit to come together, outside help was required. The Factory Young People’s Centre in Birmingham helped film sections of the project, while musician Phil Reeve created a piano-based soundtrack for the gallery. The soundtrack features factory sounds and interviews.