Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Cars of the Stars come to former Argyll factory

Argyll factory frontage

Argyll factory frontage

Although the Argyll Factory in Alexandria – a huge facility which was constructed in 1905 to build the Argyll motor car, and then cost a total of £500,000 to build – was closed some years ago, and much of the site razed, the impressive sandstone frontage of the works survives, and was listed in 1971, and went on to become Loch Lomond Factory Outlets, a shopping centre which opened in 1997, where factories opened a number of discount stores selling direct to the public, together with a few more recognised names from the high street.

The car company went into liquidation around 1914, and the factory was later taken over to manufacture torpedoes from 1936 onwards. During the 1960s, the factory took part in a top-secret Cold War project, Project Chevaline. Its work centred on increasing the survivability of nuclear warheads fitted to Polaris ballistic missiles. Completion of work on this final project in 1969 also marked the final the closure of the factory.

Within the lower floor of the building, there was once a small car museum, the Motoring Heritage Centre, but this disappeared some time after 2007, and is yet to return despite a message on its own web site that it was only moving to an alternative location within the facility.

2009 has seen the return of cars to the former Argyll Works, as the space is used to house the overflow from the Cars of the Stars museum based in Keswick. Many famous and well-known cars which have become famous from their appearance in films and on television are housed in the museum, and a trip to Alexandria is certainly a lot more convenient than the haul down to Keswick, in Cumbria. While the trip is relatively straightforward, the museum is easy to find, and Keswick town centre is a nice place to visit too, with some decent food on offer, the round trip does still take some hours, time which could be better spent exploring the museum, and Alexandria is much quicker to reach, and more convenient.

Having visited, albeit some years ago now, the collection is worth the effort of the visit, and the cars are presented in set pieces that place them in the context of their original appearance on either the large or small screen.

I hope it becomes a permanent feature, and does not also vanish after a few years in residence.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Cars of the Stars


Needless to say, my hopes that this would not evaporate did not last for long.

In mid-2011, the attraction closed, with a message on the museum web site stating “…check the website for details of the relocation of the vehicles to a new location shortly…

As of December 2011, the museum web site was redirecting visitors to the website of the Dezer Collection Museum and Pavillion in North Miami, Florida. But no further information was immediately evident.


July 27, 2009 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,


  1. I visited this at the weekend and would recommend it. Didn’t think there were enough direction signs to lead from car park to the stairs that lead to the exhibit and it wasn’t clear if there was disabled access way, but enjoyed seeing all the cars when i finally found the exhibit in the building.

    The soundtrack that accompanies as i walked through was fun too.

    I particularly liked how they displayed the Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino, but wish they had been able to display the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car as if it were flying rather than just on the ground. The batmobile was fantastic.


    Comment by Julie | July 28, 2009

  2. I visited with 3 kids and my partner and we all enjoyed the exhibition.

    It would be great to think that the owner of the collection could be pursuaded to increase the size of the collection if the exhibition is well attended.

    It was good to see the space that used to be the Argyll car museum occupied again and it would be good to think that the collection in lomond galleries might encourage a) more people to visit and b) more traders to re-open outlets in the Galleries.


    Comment by mittecltd | August 1, 2009

  3. I visited the building in the late eighties when it was empty, open and semi derelict. I took lots of photographs and had a good walk round (including on the roof). It was sad to see such an auspicious building having fallen into such disrepair. I marvelled at the tiled corridors, the timber panelled offices and the entrance hall with its great staircase and (crumbling) ornate plasterwork. I’m glad it has been preserved, and hope it survives commercially.


    Comment by Roger bean | May 18, 2010

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