Category archives: Museums

LeMay-America’s Car Museum celebrates VW

 

The simplicity of the Volkswagen beetle, such as this 1968 sedan, has wide appeal. (Photo: Volkswagen)
The simplicity of the Volkswagen beetle, such as this 1968 sedan, has wide appeal. (Photo: Volkswagen)

 

‘Vee Dub: Bohemian Beauties” is the unlikely name for a new exhibit at LeMay-America’s Car Museum that focuses on the little car that could: the classic Volkswagen in all its glory.

Opening Saturday, Jan. 11 with a public unveiling at the Tacoma, Wash., museum, the show features examples from private collectors and the museum’s own collection of Ferdinand Porsche’s simple “people’s car” that took the world by storm.

Volkswagen of America, which is partnering with LeMay in producing the exhibit, has lent three rare and significant VWs:

KdF-Wagen — Only a handful of KdF-Wagens were produced between 1941 and 1945 for use by the German army. The fully restored vehicle contains more than 95 percent of the original KdF parts.

Panel Delivery Type 2 — The panel-delivery variation of the rear-engine sedan was ideal for loading and transporting cargo with its large double cargo doors and low floor. Today, it is an enduring collector’s item.

Wedding Car Beetle — Volkswagen de Mexico built two of these wrought-iron-bodied beetles in recognition of the uniquely artistic effort by a private customizer in Mexico during the 1960s.

“We are excited to collaborate with Volkswagen to celebrate a car brand that has defined a culture of customization and entrepreneurship,” said David Madeira, president and CEO of the museum.

The opening Saturday includes a movie marathon showing three The Love Bug films featuring Herbie, the sentient VW race car.

The Vee Dub show also has a social media element: tell your own unique Volkswagen stories under the hashtag #VWACM. The best stories will be on digital display at the exhibit.

For more information, see Vee Dub: Bohemian Beauties.

Simeone Museum hosts Ford GT40 celebration

This 1966 Ford GT40 was on display at the Simeone Museum’s recent People’s Choice Demo Day. (Photo: Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum)
1966 Ford GT40 on display at the museum’s recent People’s Choice Demo Day. Photo courtesy Simeone Museum

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum presents a celebration of the Ford GT40, the groundbreaking race car that famously beat Ferrari at Le Mans, in a special Racing Legends event at noon on January 11, 2014,  at the Philadelphia-based museum.

Well-known GT40 expert Greg Kolasa will lead a discussion on the development and history of the GT40. Kolasa, who wrote The Definitive Shelby Mustang Guide 1965-1970, is Shelby American Automobile Club historian and registrar.

The GT40, so named because of its roof height in inches, holds a special place in the history of American auto racing. After Enzo Ferrari had imperiously snubbed Ford’s efforts to acquire his automobile business, Ford set out to beat Ferrari at its most-hallowed racing venue, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Led by Carroll Shelby, who had already trounced Ferrari with the Cobra Daytona coupe for a GT class win in 1965, the GT40 team completely dominated the 1966 running of Le Mans with an outright win that saw them cross the finish line in first, second and third places. The GT40s were back the following year, and again won Le Mans for 1967.

GT40s were raced by privateers for years after, and today the GT40 remains one of the most hotly sought-after collector cars for vintage racing.

Both of the Simeone Museum’s GT40s, a Mk. II and a Mk. IV, will be displayed during the January 11 program and, weather permitting, they will be taken out for demonstration runs after the presentation.

For more information about the museum and the GT40 event, see www.simeonemuseum.org. 

Something fishy at the Petersen, where Jaguars are on the prowl

Did you know that the 1928 fishing season was a disaster in Massachusetts and residents blamed the state’s Dept. of Motor Vehicles?

Turns out that in 1928, the DMV added a fish symbol to the state’s auto license plates, but the fish was pointed away from the word “Mass.”

After the anglers’ uproar, the person who designed that 1928 plate was fired and the following year the fish pointed toward the state’s name and the fishing industry prospered.

Such tales are part of the new “License Plates: Unlocking the Code” exhibit that runs through March 30, 2014 at the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Officially, the exhibit celebrates the centennial of the first State of California license plate, but it includes plates from across the country and around the world. (As early as 1909, the Automobile Club of Southern California and the American Automobile Association produced license plates for California drivers, with the state taking over the business in 1914.)

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By the way, did you know that until 1972, each Argentine province had its own unique plate design, and those from the Neuguen region featured a water fall and were hand painted?

“There really is educational value to each plate in this display,” said Jeff Minard, a license plate historian who worked with the museum on the display. “At the same time, time, these unique pieces are displayed as art for everyone to enjoy.”

Also new to the Petersen — opening last weekend and running through February 16, 2014, is a special Jaguar sports car exhibit that showcases a 1937 SS100 formerly owned by entertainer Mel Torme, a 1949 XK120 used in the movie Gangster Squad, a 1956 XKSS formerly owned by Steve McQueen, a 1965 E-Type used in the television show Mad Men, and a 2014 F-type V8 S.

Petersen cars among those sold at Auctions America’s Burbank sale

$5,775 for a very stock-looking 1976 AMC Pacer. $6,325 for a 1995 Hyundai Elantra that once-upon-a-time raced up Pikes Peak. $57,750 for the 1967 Boothill Express, a hot-rodder’s vision for someone’s last ride — and rites. $77,000 for a big beverage can on wheels, the 1970 I-coulda-had-a-V-8 vehicle commissioned by Campbell soup and built by George Barris. And $407,000 for a 1952 Cunningham C-3 coupe (see photo) and the parts needed for its eventual restoration.

Those reportedly were among some of the 64 or so vehicles pulled out of storage at the Petersen Automotive Museum and sold at Auction America’s California auction in Burbank.

The Cunningham coupe was among the top-5 sales at the auction, where 313 of the 389 cars were sold, along with 13 motorcycles and a bunch of memorabilia, all totaling $17.27 million.

Why would a museum sell a rare Cunningham? Most likely because of how much money and time would be required to restore it into any sort of showpiece condition. Besides, that $407,000 represents a nice chunk of the money the museum needs to proceed with its plans to update and modernize its displays. Details of those plans are promised during car week this month at Monterey. (For background, see our earlier article at http://classiccars.com/articles/le_july2013c.aspx.)

The top-dollar sale at the auction was $825,000 for a 1964 Shelby Cobra, one of the few that left Shelby America with an automatic transmission. A 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster formerly owned by actor Robert Stack (see photo) brought $808,500, a 1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona went for $401,250 and a 1974 Ferrari 246 Dino GTS sold for $291,500.

Overall, 313 of 389 cars sold — for a combined $16.8 million — as did 12 of 13 motorcycles.

“This auction proves that with the right vehicles and the right team, Southern California can host a lucrative and successful collector car auction,” said Auctions America executive Ian Kelleher. “The location in Burbank was central to most Los Angeles residents and the fact that we were just a few blocks fro several major movie studios while cars with serious Hollywood history rolled over the block helped, but many of the top cars sold were simply outstanding cars that were highly sought-after.”

Speaking of Hollywood, a 1946 Indian Chief motorcycle formerly owned by Steve McQueen sold for $143,750 and three cars built for the 2000 “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” movie each went for around $35,000.

And if you’re still fretting about the Petersen selling some of its cars, calm down. For one thing, it’s supposed to be a museum, not a storage facility. For another, I had a long conversation last week with a long-time classic car collector, auctioneer and museum director who has brokered a bunch of such sales — and many purchases as well — for various museums, including some of the most respected institutions in the country. He said car museums often sell cars and buy others, but they try to do it quietly so as not to have an undo impact on transaction prices.

Christmas present from the Petersen: The vault is open for tours

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles has a Christmas present for car guys and gals: Starting December 15, the museum opened its vault, the underground section of its parking structure where it stores vehicles that are not on display in the exhibitions inside the museum proper.

There are dozens of vehicles in those exhibitions, but that still leaves two or three hundred hidden away — until now.

“It’s a part of the museum that has become almost legend,” said Chris Brown, the museum’s information and marketing manager. “If you’re an enthusiast, you’ve heard about the vault of great cars at the Petersen. We get more and more people who keep asking, ‘hey, how do I get down in the vault? ”

Cruisin' with LarryYou now can do that by signing up for a guided tour. Each tour is limited to 10 people, runs for 90 minutes and costs $25, plus the regular museum admission.

At the moment, those tours are offered only on weekends. But, Brown promised, “if it proves to be as popular as we hope it is, we’ll extend it throughout the week.”

Brown and the museum’s new director, Terry Karges, recently offered me a pre-tour sneak peek of the vault and it was amazing to see what’s there, including several cars formerly owned by Steve McQueen, a couple of concept cars, the bulletproof limo the White House ordered the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the specially built Ferrari used in the TV show Magnum P.I., specially built so actor Tom Selleck could fit inside the cars tight cockpit.

Auction helps save military museum and creates room for more displays

Dean Kruse may have stumbled in the late stages of his career as a classic car auctioneer, but his dream of a museum preserving American military machinery not only will live on but will be able to expand in scope in the aftermath of an auction at what is now known as the National Military History Center in Auburn, Indiana.

Kruse searched throughout Europe to find tanks, trucks, rocket launchers and other military equipment used in World War II but discarded after the war. He bought nearly 200 vehicles and was ready to ship them to the museum he was building in northeastern Indiana when 911 occurred.

In the aftermath, instead of merely shipping his purchases, Kruse needed an act of Congress to allow the import of his used military equipment. But the bill passed and Kruse’s purchases arrived and his museum opened.

However, along with the rest of his holdings, the museum suffered financial setbacks and faced a mortgage of some $2.9 million. To pay that mortgage, keep the museum operating and to make room for military equipment not only from WWII but from other wars, including the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the museum staged an auction, selling some 80 vehicles — nearly half of Kruse’s collection — as well as WWII uniforms and other military gear from that era.

The auction, managed by Auctions America by RM, generated hammer sales of more than $2.97 million.

The top sales included $200,000 for a Daimler-Benz DB10 half-track troop carrier, $160,000 for a Haromag armored 3/4 track, $150 for a Horch 4×4 cross-country personnel car, and $145 for a Borgward half-track.

Several of the pieces were bought for display at a museum in Europe. Several bidders said they participate in WWII battle reenactments that are becoming popular in the United States. (One man said his son and daughter-in-law are re-enactors — medic and nurse — and that he wants to participate as well, but not as an infantryman and that people who bring veteran vehicles to such events automatically earn higher rank.)

Others bidders said they planned to drive their purchases in parades and to display them at shows and other events. Still others said they simply wanted the 4×4 capabilities of the retired military equipment to enjoy on land they owned.