Today was an incredible day. It has been years since we have been to the Peterson, years BEFORE the outside renovation of the building and the addition of the stylized chrome and silver accents to the walls.
Not only did we tour the regular part of the museum, but we dug deep and paid for the admission uplift which included access to "The Vault", where tons of fantastic machinery is stashed. Enjoy the photos, and get down there yourself if you can!
Left: Two Ferraris ready to drive
Center: An early, and very small, British Austin
Right: Early Porsche 911, from 1964
Left: Steve McQueen's incredible Jaguar XKSS
Center: Rita Hayworth's 1953 Cadillac Ghia; great article by R&T:
Right: Information on 911, directly above
Left: The Tucker 48 Torpedo
This was Tucker Preston's personal car. The Tucker was truly automotive genius, but, depending on who you talk to, Preston Tucker was either under-capitalized, or members of the "Big 3" undermined his efforts, and this wonderful car line was limited to 51 cars, 47 of which survive today. I find the second explanation for its failure hard to believe, as there were other makes of American cars, including Kaiser, Nash, etc. No one stopped them. However, the goons at the SEC did treat Tucker shabbily.
All that said, this was a fascinating design. Tucker was very much interested in safety, and included a number of safety features in the car design.
Other features included doors that were cut into the roof to aid in getting into the car, large areas for crash protection, a central headlight that moved with the steering, allowing better lighting in curves etc.
Most innovative was the idea of a rear engined car, keeping noise and smoke to the back of the car. But the type of engine was even more engaging--a modified Franklin helicopter engine! These were reportedly very smooth and reliable.
I can share a personal perspective. My dad told me all about this car when I was about 10 years old, years before they were a super-treasured collectible. I found the features, especially the third headlight, simply amazing. Interestingly, my dad was friends with Tucker's son, they were both about the same age. My dad was over at their apartment in Chicago a number of times. Two things intrigued him about this; one, it was the the first time he had seen anyone with a maid, and second, there was a scale model of a Tucker in the entry hallway. My dad went to college and then the Air Force, so he lost touch with his friend, who I believe moved out to California. My dad always loved this car, and the one time he met Preston, he indicated he was a very nice man.
Top:Top Left and Bottom Left: Plymouth Explorer by Ghia--another special bodied Chrysler showpieceCenter: Elvis Presley's De Tomaso Pantera; he bought it used for $2500, unloaded three shots into it when it kept breaking down, bullet holes still in the dash and part of the steering wheel! Top and Bottom Right: "American Express" gold plated Delorean. I remembered these, there were three made, and here is one.Bottom:Center: 1948 Davis; another short lived distinctly different car. Could seat four across. Turn almost on a dime! Only a handful made before the company went under.
Above and Below: 1953 Dodge Storm
Amazing one-off, body by Bertone. As you may know, Chrysler did many show cars and special bodied cars, especially with Italian coachbuilders like Ghia. This Bertone bodied Dodge is a wonderful two-seater, with a rich leather interior, clean flowing lines, a show-car back window, and a brutish front grille. It means business. Originally equipped with a 331 cubic inch Hemi, that engine became ruined whilst in the possession of a college, and the previous owner re-built the car and installed a later model Mopar engine. Briefly considered for production.
Great story here!
Above: A very fine, original 1963 Studebaker Avanti. Equipped with a manual 4-speed transmission. 1963 was the first year for the Avanti, distinguished by its round headlight surrounds. The 1964 was the second and last year for this car, with squared surrounds for the headlights. The car would live on as a product of an independent car company as the Avanti II.