Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ooh La La! French Curves at the Mullin

by Nancy DeWitt

I had the pleasure of visiting the new Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California a week ago. Peter Mullin created the museum to pay homage to the art deco period and display his amazing collection of "rolling sculptures" from the era. Everything about the museum is jaw dropping, from the curvy automobiles and Carlos Bugatti furniture to the architecture and historic art on exhibit.

As if the first floor of the 47,000 square-foot museum isn't impressive enough, a number of very cool pre-war race cars are parked on the second floor. These include several Grand Prix and Le Mans winners.

It was hard to choose a favorite, although this 1939 Delahaye Type 165 Cabriolet ranked high on my list

followed by this 1934 Voisin C27 Aerosport.

The 1937 Delahaye Type 135M Roadster was rather eye-catching too.

In addition to the gleaming Talbot-Lagos, Renaults, Delages and other French beauties, I found some surprises. Remember the 1925 Bugatti roadster made famous for being rescued from a lake in northern Italy last year? It's here, along with a neat display of preservation-class autos from the legendary Schlumpf Reserve Collection.

The Mullin Automotive Museum is only open for tours one or two days a month, so plan your visit and make your ticket reservations well in advance.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vehicles scheduled to come up!

by Derik Price

Since Nancy is still out of town, I thought I'd just give a quick update. The last two 'new addition' vehicles for the season are scheduled to leave Seattle on Monday for the trip up to Fairbanks.  Barring an extreme cold snap, which is so far not in the forecast, in a little under two weeks we should receive the 1907 White Steamer and the 1917 Pierce Arrow.

These photos show our partially restored White, giving you an idea of its height and imposing size.  I wish I had a recent pic of ours since it's freshening up, but i guess we (all) have something to look forward to!

And the 1917 Pierce -

The Pierce needs a few more bits and pieces so it'll likely be in the Museum shop for a little while.  It may need TWO parking spaces.  :-)


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hershey Swap Meet 2010

by Willy Vinton

Well, after missing a connection on my flight in good od Detroit and having to spend the night, I finally made it to Hershey, PA.  This guy is one of the first things that grabbed my attention -- he is holding a picture of a very nice early Packard, and he's pushing the start of its restoration in that cart. You just never know what you are going to see here! The weather was great all the time I was there, having missed the first rainy day due to Delta's missed connection.

This was a neat contraption: a 1974 Fascination Car that can spin around in its own length. Some people just have too much time (and fun).

This is a 1916 Woods Mobilette, a later version of the 1914 Mobilette in our museum. It has offset seating and is a little wider than ours. It is in the AACA museum, and was very interesting to look at and compare to ours. Below is a picture of the sign they had for the car (you can click on the image for a larger view). 

I did find a few items we were looking for, and saw lots of stuff we really didn't need. For the most part the trip was rather uneventful -- until I hit a skunk while returning the rental car at 4 AM Sunday morning. Boy, that brought back memories! Really glad we don't have skunks up here in Alaska (at least 4 legged ones).

More later!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mack and new blog format

by Derik Price

Well this last week saw a number of changes to our image.  You've no doubt noticed the blog looks different.  I've redone it to compliment the new Museum Website!

We also received a new addition to our collection.  It's a 1915 Mack Dump Truck.  It is completely original and will be an 'outside display' piece.  The cab, hood and various parts have been removed for transport. In fact, I towed it from our yard into the storage building and Nancy 'volunteered' to drive it.

And she did complain somewhat at the start - Hey, it doesn't have a steering wheel, and where's the seat, it's just an ice cold fuel tank to sit on. Pfffft, trifles.  :-)

Thanks once again to Lynden for bringing this one up.  We docked the trailer at one of our warehouses and the dump boom was just a hair too tall to fit in the door.  So Lynden took it back to their yard and offloaded for us.  Big Thanks!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chasing Ghosts - Part I: Franklin

by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

A lot of my work as our museum's historian involves chasing ghosts: figuring out when and what types of cars first showed up in Alaska, if any still exist, and if anyone recalls anything about their long-gone owners. During the museum's planning stage, I read through numerous old newspapers and dug through countless photographs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Archives. From the former, I learned that the first three cars in Fairbanks were a Pope-Toledo, Franklin and White Steamer, all arriving by sternwheeler in 1908. Eventually I met Fairbanks historian Candy Waugaman, and she was kind enough to give me access to her tremendous Alaska postcard and photo collections. I was quite excited when she showed me this photo:

The barrel-shaped hood indicated that the car was an air-cooled Franklin, and correspondence with the H.H. Franklin Club confirmed it. Could this be one of Fairbanks' first cars? Old newspapers had noted that Hosea Ross, the town's undertaker, purchased that first Franklin in 1908. As luck would have it I discovered Ross' autobiography at the Elmer Rasmuson Library at UAF. In it he wrote about buying the Franklin and being offered $50 to take a drunk lawyer to Dome Creek: "I said 'No.' He said 'I will give you $75.' I said, 'No.' He said, 'I will give you $100.' I said 'All right.'" As they say, everyone has their price.

Ross goes on to write that their trip was the first time an automobile had made it to Dome, a mining town just north of Fairbanks. No doubt the photo above, captioned "First Auto Dome," was taken during that journey. Ross next bought a Thomas Flyer and Pierce Great Arrow. I couldn't find another photo of the Franklin or any of the Thomas, but Candy had this one of Ross sitting at the wheel of a Great Arrow (pretty popular guy for an undertaker, eh?):

Through more detective work I tracked down some of Ross' relatives. None had any information about or photos of his early cars. Ross had written that he eventually  "...sold the old Franklin as a wreck." Chances are the car ended up in the river, town dump, or was dissected for parts. While we hold out hope that we may find its remains some day, we have this lovely 1907 Franklin Type D landaulette to help us educate visitors about Alaska's first days of the automobile.

Nest installment: What happened to the White Steamer?

*Note: Historical photos pictured here may not be reproduced without permission.