American cars feature at the annual IW Car Extravaganza


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A £2million crowdfunding campaign is set to be launched on Monday to help establish an American car museum on the Isle of Wight.

The sizeable attraction will feature a diverse range of cars against a backdrop of memorabilia and art. Other attractions will include a 100 seater cinema offering back-to-back screenings of car themed films and television shows, a 1950s style diner, a children’s play area and a stretch of road where it will be possible to see the exhibits in action and even take a ride.

The museum – which has been named Route IOW in homage to iconic Route 66 – is the brainchild of writer and entrepreneur Christian Carter-Stephenson. With a £2 million target, the campaign is ambitious to say the least.

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Speaking to Island Echo about the plans, Chris has said that he will be investing some of his own capital in the project but that a large percentage of the startup costs are set to come from the crowdfunding.

“The plan is to develop the museum in 3 phases, so even if the full amount is not realised, as long as we have enough to complete phase 1, we will be in a position to open for business and hopefully make up the shortfall with the resulting revenue.

“I am also very open to seeking alternative sources of funding, e.g. entering into a partnership with a venture capital investor or applying for a lottery grant, as I think it’s a project that is worth pursuing. Another option would be to simplify the museum’s design to allow us to move forward with a smaller amount of money”.

When asked ‘why American cars’, Chris said:

“We can’t compete with the likes of Beaulieu or the Haynes Motor Museum in terms of size, but what we can do is fill a niche in the market, which should give us an appeal far beyond the local area. The recent success of Ford’s UK Mustang release, the growing number of American cars being imported into the country and the popularity of these vehicles at car shows are all evidence that there is call for a museum of this nature”.

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It has not yet been decided exactly where on the Isle of Wight the museum will be situated, but Stephenson is keen to work with the Isle of Wight Council to minimise any environmental impact and any disruption to local residences and businesses. He says that the council have made reference to a number of sites earmarked for growing the island economy and it is hoped one of these might prove to be suitable.

Route IOW is tentatively scheduled to open in April 2021. The crowdfunding campaign is launching on the Indiegogo platform on 4th March 2019.

UPDATE – The crowdfunding campaign has begun and can be found at

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