Category archives: Museums

Deadline nears for California museum’s trip to Cuba

Havana street scene| California Automobile Museum
Havana street scene| California Automobile Museum

Friday, November 15 is the deadline to register for the California Automobile Museum’s cars and culture trip to Cuba. The 9-day, 8-night “Cuba’s Classic Cars” is scheduled for March 27 through April 4, 2015, and will include the museum’s executive director, Karen McClaflin.

“It is estimated that Cuba has approximately 60,000 classic American cars that are still in almost-perfect working condition,” the museum said in its most recent update. “You will meet with the owners of these amazing cars and exchange ideas to understand the level of ingenuity required to maintain these automotive treasures.

“Cuba is the only place in the world where you will be able to see this amazing array of vintage automotive gems, as they are part of the national heritage or Patrimonio Nacional, and cannot leave the island.”

In addition to meeting with various car clubs, the tour will include the Museo de Autos Antiguos, a cruise in classic cars down El Malecon, as well as visits to the national art school, Portages cigar factory, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Chocolate, the Hemingway Museum, Bellamar caves, Morro Castle and other locations.

Cost, which includes transportation from Miami to Havana, is $5,050 for double occupancy or $5,550 for a single. For details, visit the museum website.

Corvette museum reveals Skydome repair plan details, timetable


Repairs begin mid-November, should be finished next July | National Corvette Museum
Repairs begin mid-November, should be finished next July | National Corvette Museum

Officials of the National Corvette Museum met Wednesday with contractor staff and engineers to review “the plan, process and timeline for remediating the sinkhole and repairing the Skydome building,” the museum said in a news release. Continue reading

With Petersen closed for reconstruction, groups of its cars will be parking at the Reagan Library

Ordered the day after Pearl Harbor attack, this '42 Lincoln served Roosevelt and Truman | Larry Edsall photos
Ordered the day after Pearl Harbor attack, this ’42 Lincoln served Roosevelt and Truman | Larry Edsall photos

Hollywood, History and Heads of State are the themes for three displays of cars that opening soon at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. The cars will be coming from nearby Los Angeles, where most of the Petersen Automotive Museum will be closed during a massive renovation project.

“This partnership with The Petersen Museum is a wonderful way to showcase their extraordinary collection in Ventura County while their museum is closed for renovation,” John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, said in a news release.

“Whether you’re an enthusiast of the movies, history or just beautiful cars, this exhibit is a must-see.”
“This is a fairly rare collaboration between two world-class museums,” added Terry Karges, executive director of the Petersen. “The ‘Amazing Automobiles’ exhibit allows Reagan Library visitors to see several significant cars from the Petersen collection, and the Heads of States cars will be appropriately displayed near Air Force One.”

The gold-plated DeLorean
The gold-plated DeLorean

“Amazing Automobiles” is the overall name of the various displays.

The Head of State gallery will be on display from November 17 through October 2015 and will include:

  •  Pope John Paul II’s 1998 Cadillac Papal Parade Phaeton
  • the 1942 Lincoln Limousine (ordered the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and used by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman)
  • the 1938 Packard Super 8 Parade Phaeton used by Juan and Evita Peron, President and First Lady of Argentina

Running January 31 through May 1, 2015, the Historic Cars gallery will include:

  • 1981 gold-plated DeLorean DMC-12
  • 1952 Ferrari 212/215 Inter Spyder
  • 1913 Mercer Raceabout
  • 1939 Bugatti 57C Atalante

Being shown at the Reagan from October 28 through May 1 will be a Hollywood gallery including:

The King of Cool's Jaguar
The King of Cool’s Jaguar
  • 1956 XKSS owned by Steve McQueen (one of only 16 built)
  • a 1971 DeTomaso Pantera owned by Elvis Presley (which still has the three bullet holes from when he shot the car)
  • the Batmobile driven by Michael Keaton in “Batman” (1989) and “Batman Returns” (1991)
  • • a 1946 custom “Grease Lightning” Ford used by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in “Grease” (1978)
  • • a 1966 Ford Thunderbird driven by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in “Thelma and Louise” (1991)
  • • a 2001 custom Honda Roadster driven by Devon Aoki in “2 Fast, 2 Furious” (2003)

The Reagan Library is located at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley, California. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, although the facility is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day.
For additional information, visit the museum website.


Simeone museum will exercise NASCAR race cars

'Mystery Motor' '63 Chevrolet | RK Motors Charlotte photo
‘Mystery Motor’ ’63 Chevrolet | Michael Furman photo for Simeone Museum

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum not only displays some of the world’s most amazing vehicles, but from time to time takes them outside so they can demonstrate their aural and dynamic capabilities.

The next such demonstration day is October 11, when NASCAR Racing Legends will be exercised between noon and 2 p.m.

The star car figures to be the famed “Mystery Motor” 1963 Chevrolet Impala SS that Junior Johnson drove to a speed record at Daytona and to seven victories that season wearing the No. 3 and Holly Farms sponsorship colors.

Chevrolet withdrew from official factory participation in motorsports for the 1963 season, but not before delivering some of its newly developed “Mystery Motor” engines to several NASCAR teams. The engines (RPO Z33 Mk II 427) featured cylinder heads with valves canted in two planes. The engines were so strong they were banned for the 1964 season. The No. 3 went from the race track to storage in a barn.

1938 Ford replica racer | Michael Furman photo for Simeone Museum
1938 Ford replica racer | Michael Furman photo for Simeone Museum

It reportedly has undergone no modifications since, except for a replacement alternator and a new carburetor, needed after the original Holley carb was stolen.

The car is owned by RK Motors Charlotte and is on a brief loan to the Simeone. NASCAR Racing Legends Day is the only time will be “exercised” while in Philadelphia.

Joining the No. 3 car in demonstration runs will be a 1986 Buick Regal raced by Larry Pearson with Chattanooga Chew sponsorship, a replica of the 1938 Ford raced by Louis Smith, a 1953 Hudson Hornet that competed successfully in hill climbs and became known as the “Satan of Morimar,” and a 1970 Plymouth Superbird.

For additional information, visit the museum’s events webpage.

Lunch-time at LeMay will explore ‘If Cars Could Talk’

On November 4, Doug McDonell will discuss automotive ornamentation | LeMay museum photos
On November 4, Doug McDonell will discuss automotive ornamentation | LeMay museum photos

LeMay – America’s Car Museum launches its adult brown-bag lunch series Tuesday. The theme for the first-two lectures in the first-Tuesday series is “If Cars Could Talk.”

Talking in behalf of cars this week is Scott Keller, the museum’s chief curator, whose presentation is titled: Cars as Metal Art, Part 1: Automotive Body Sculpting.

Scott Keller talks Tuesday about automotive sculpture
Scott Keller talks Tuesday about automotive sculpture

On November 4, Doug McDonnell, one of the museums educator docents, follows up with Part 2: Automotive Ornamentation.

The speaker December 2 will be Gerald Greenfield, head judge for the Pacific Northwest Concours d’Elegance.

The lunch-time lectures run from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Visitors can bring a brown-bag lunch from home, buy lunch at the museum’s Classic Cafe, or just sit and listen.

In conjunction with McDonnell’s presentation and Metal-Urge, a community event to encourage the metal arts, the museum’s Family Zone is staging a hood ornament design contest in October and November, with prizes for the best ornaments.

The LeMay is located in Tacoma, Washington.


Dutch museum holding online auction of pre-war Fords

This 1928 Model A roadster at the museum is being auctioned online| BVA Auctions
This 1928 Model A roadster at the museum is being auctioned online| BVA Auctions

Here’s a car-guy fact that’s probably flown under your radar: In the town of Hillegom, Netherlands, resides the world’s largest private collection of Ford vehicles. The Den Hartogh Ford Museum, started in 1956 by obsessed Dutch collector Piet den Hartogh, holds more than 200 Ford and Lincoln vehicles ranging from 1903 to 1948 models.

Continue reading

Museum showcases Alaska’s extreme challenges to early motorists

Alaskan automotive pioneer Robert Sheldon, stuck along the Valdez-Fairbanks trail | Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum photos
Alaskan auto pioneer Robert Sheldon, stuck along the Valdez-Fairbanks trail | Fountainhead Museum photos

‘Extreme Motoring: Alaska’s First Automobiles and Their Dauntless Drivers” is the title of a new exhibit that runs through March 30, 2015, at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Fairbanks.

The exhibit is designed to take museum visitors back to the days of the Last Frontier following the Alaskan gold rush. The first motorcars arrived in Alaska on steamships in the early 1900s. Most of their owners had never driven before, the museum notes in its news release. Accidents were “frequent” and “more than a few terrified passengers demanded to be let out of the evil ‘devil wagons’ after only a few miles.”

Cars on display in the exhibit include Alaska’s first horseless carriage, which the museum notes was built by “a young man who had never seen one before,” a 1906 Pope-Toledo, a 1907 White Steamer, 1909 Cadillac, 1910 Chalmers-Detroit and a Fordson Snow Motor. Most of them are maintained in running condition.

1907 White steam car is just like the third car to reach Fairbanks
1907 White steam car is just like the third car to reach Fairbanks

In addition to the historic vehicles, the exhibit shares the stories of the territory’s first motorists and the challenge they faced before there were highways, bridges or snow plows.

“An absence of repair shows required a high level of ingenuity and resourcefulness by these bold men,” the museum’s news release notes.

Photographs and historic artifacts are part of the exhibition.

The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum was founded in 2009 to showcase automotive history before World War II. Its collection includes 85 vehicles, some one-of-a-kind or sole survivors of such obscure marques as Argonne, Compound and Heine-Velox.

The museum also houses one of the largest historic fashion collections in the western U.S.

The museum is located at the Wedgewood Resort. For more information, visit the museum website.

Porsche reveals secret concepts, prototypes at museum exhibition

Part of the new Porsche secrets display | Porsche AG photos
Part of the new Porsche secrets display | Porsche AG photos

‘Project: Top Secret” is the title of the newest special exhibition at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, where 16 vehicles – most of which have never been shown before – will be on display through January 11, 2015. The vehicles include previously secret concepts, camouflaged prototypes and one-of-a-kind cars created for experimental testing and record runs.

The 16 vehicles were selected to illustrate what Porsche saw as “the spirit of the times or the corporate context of the respective decade.”

For example, in response to the energy crises in 1973, Porsche created the FLA sustainable research project vehicle. Other projects from the same era include the 924, a speed-record project, and the Type 995, an experimental passenger car.

Seven of the cars are from the 1980s, including the 959 aerodynamic prototype, a 928 cabriolet and the previously secret 984 roadster concept.

Also being revealed is the 965, a high-performance sports car concept powered by a rear-mounted, water-cooled V8 engine.

More. of the cars in the new exhibition
More. of the cars in the new exhibition

Projects from the 1990s include a four-door 989 “family sports car,” a prototype built on a 911 Targa chassis that was used to develop the Boxster/Cayman series.

The display also includes a camouflaged Panamera prototype and a rolling chassis of the 918 Spyder hybrid.

The vehicles are among those produced by the more than 4,500 engineers who work at the Porsche Development Center in Weissach.

“Many great ideas never make it to series production for technical or economic reasons,” Porsche said in a news release. “Nonetheless, they are frequently realized as research projects or concept cars.

“A great deal, of course, goes on in secrecy – because one thing is sure: a great idea is always quickly imitated by others. That is why many of the concept cars and experimental vehicles never leave the premises of the Weissach Development Centre.

“After the completion of the project, they are usually scrapped. The most important or exciting projects, though, were put into the stock of the Porsche Museum. Coming directly from there, they are now being shown for the first time to the wider public as part of this special exhibition.”

For more information, visit the Porsche Museum website.


Only at the Gilmore: Disney movie set, wood car tires

Nick Chester, 12, demonstrates the scale of the Disney version of a Rolls-Royce | Larry Edsall photos
Nick Chester, 12, demonstrates the scale of the Disney version of a Rolls-Royce | Larry Edsall photos
Here's the real Rolls
Here’s the real Rolls

As you may have noticed through the series of Eye Candy photo galleries we’ve been presenting, the Gilmore Car Museum is known for its classic cars and its historic barns, but there are at least two other things that make the place unique.

The one for which it is most widely known is for being the only place other than Walt’s own studios to have the real set from a Disney movie.

The set is the gigantic Rolls-Royce rear seat used in the 1967 movie The Gnome-Mobile, which starred Walter Brennan as a lumber baron whose grandchildren convinced him to save a redwood forest because it was the home to the “little people,” a group of gnomes.

The movie, based on a book written in 1936 by Upton Sinclair, also starred Ed Wynn as well as Matthew Garber and Karen Dotrice, who earlier had been the children featured in another Disney movie, Mary Poppins.

Back in the days before computerized special effects, Disney used photographic tricks to make the actors portraying the gnomes appear to be only inches tall. One way was to build a set four times scale, including the back seat of a 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Sedanca De-Ville that also was used in the movie.

After the filming, and despite a strict policy never to let any set leave Disney property, Walt Disney offered the set to Donald Gilmore for his car museum in Michigan, where it now sits next to the Rolls that was used in the movie.

Turns out that Disney and Gilmore were friends. Gilmore had a winter home in Palm Springs, California, where Disney had a house on one side of his and Ronald Reagan had a house on the other side.

In fact, Disney and Gilmore were such good friends that when Disneyland opened in 1955, the drug store on the park’s Main Street, USA was labeled as the Upjohn Pharmacy because Gilmore was chairman of the Upjohn Pharmaceutical company.

It used to be that museum visitors could crawl up and get their picture taken on the oversized Rolls seat. That’s no longer offered — too much wear and tear in a one-of-a-kind feature, but the real car and the gigantic rear seat set are at the museum for viewing, along with a continuously running loop of the actual movie.

Donald Gilmore's wooden wheels
Donald Gilmore’s wooden wheels

The other unique though less highlighted feature at the Gilmore museum are a pair of car tires made from wood.

During World War II, many items were rationed for civilian use, including gasoline and tires. Donald Gilmore was among those seeking alternatives. For example, he had a 1927 Ford Model T converted to electric power. He also had four tires made from wood and installed on his 1940 Cadillac.

As you might expect, that experiment didn’t go so well because the tires simply didn’t provide sufficient traction. Undaunted, however, Gilmore simply put rubber tires back on the car’s rear wheels and continued to drive with the wooden ones in front.

Modern tire engineers will tell you to put your two best tires on the rear wheels (regardless of whether your vehicle has front-, rear- or all-wheel drive) because as your front wheels lose grip for steering, the driver naturally slows to compensate and to keep the car under control. (So why not put the best tires up front? Because only the most attuned of drivers — basically, very experienced auto racers — can recognize the moment when rear tires are about to lose their grip and send the car into a spin.)

A sign next to the wooden tires in the museum notes that Gilmore’s staff liked it when he drove on the wooden tires. Why?

“Because they could hear him coming from a mile away!”

Matchbox toy show at Antique Automobile Club Museum

A little antique car that was part of Matchbox’s Models of YesterYear series | Diecast Toy Exchange
An antique car from Models of YesterYear series | Diecast Toy Exchange

The Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, hosts its fourth annual Matchbox Collectors show on September 21, featuring the tiny die-cast cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors and other fun vehicles produced in England long before there were Hot Wheels.

Matchbox toys by Lesney started the trend of miniature toy cars in 1953 with the production of inexpensive but high-quality vehicles small enough to fit into a matchbox. They were even packaged in little cardboard boxes and were cheap enough so that kids could buy and collect them. Matchbox vehicles today are grown-up collector items.

The show at the museum is presented by the Diecast Toy Exchange and features some rare and valuable pieces, such as a 1960s-era mint-green Pontiac and matching camper trailer. It’s a one-of-a-kind set valued at $10,000 because it was a color-trial sample and never produced for sale.

A classic motorcycle with sidecar | Diecast Toy Exchange
A classic motorcycle with sidecar | Diecast Toy Exchange

Vendors at the show will sell a wide variety of more-affordable Matchbox toys from the 1950s through the present day. A pair of limited-edition toys produced specially for the show will be for sale while supplies last: A 60-piece series of 1992 Dodge Vipers that celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Dodge brand (priced at $12 each) and 40 models of Convoy Trucks (at $30 apiece).

The AACA will offer reduced-price tickets to the museum during the show. Visitors also can take a look at the museum’s full-size collection of vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles going back to the 1890s. Two special exhibits are taking place: Indian Nation: Indian Motorcycles in America and the Mark Watts Reflections art exhibit.

There also is the opportunity for a sneak peak at the upcoming 100 Years of Dodge exhibit, which opens September 26.

For more information about events at the AACA Museum, see

The specially made Convoy Truck commemorating the Hershey show | Diecast Toy Exchange
The specially made Convoy Truck commemorating the Hershey show | Diecast Toy Exchange