Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Update: Off to the Designer!

by Nancy DeWitt

The materials for our upcoming book are now on their way to Seattle! Since we opened in 2009, many of our visitors have requested that we produce a book featuring our cars. This ambitious project finally got rolling last December with several sessions held to photograph cars, car parts, vintage clothing and the museum's interior. At right is our manager, Willy Vinton, and docent Michael Lecorchick lifting the hood off the 1914 Woods Mobilette.

Many thanks to the all the volunteers who helped us shuffle cars, open hoods and move ropes, signs and stanchions. Ronn Murray, a Fairbanks-based photographer and classic car fan, took the majority of photos for the book. He did a fabulous job and was even brave enough to get on the lift for some shots (that's our 1921 Daniels on the right and the 1911 Oakland on the left).

John Katz, our book's editor and an automotive historian, author and former editor for Automobile Quarterly, traveled to Fairbanks during some of our harshest winter weather to examine the cars, do some fact-checking and help me with additional research. Thanks John! Your help and encouragement were very appreciated. Sorry I made you work next to that Auburn boattail speedster, though...
This soft-cover book will feature 42 of our cars and a number of our vintage fashions and historical photos. It's taken a lot of work to pull it all together, so I was pretty happy to package up all the materials and ship them off to Epicenter Press this morning. Many thanks to everyone who helped with this project! Hopefully we'll have the books in hand by July 1. Please let us know if you'd like to be contacted when they arrive.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

by Willy Vinton

Sunshine, old cars and green grass were a treat after a long Fairbanks winter. My wife, Wilma, and I left Fairbanks on March 9 to head to Florida, arriving on the 10th. We checked into the hotel, had dinner and got some rest after 16 hours of airplanes and airports. The following morning we scoped out the concours grounds and inspected our '32 Cadillac 452-B Imperial limousine to make sure it was ready for the show. The car looked great and only needed minor cleaning, thanks to Sean Brayton and Red Star Auto's extra effort to get it ready.

We spent the rest of the day checking out the cars at the Gooding auction and making sure we knew where to park the Cadillac on the golf course. Auctions on both Friday and Saturday consumed the night and day; we left the RM auction on Saturday afternoon to get the Cadillac onto the field by 5 pm. It started with no problems and we left the parking area where all the transport trucks park, following a concours official who was driving a golf cart. Everything went well until halfway there the car ran out of gas (oops). With the help of the staff we got two gallons of gas, put it in the V16, got it started and made it to the field.

Sunday morning found us with lots to do--remember now--we had to turn the clocks ahead one hour, and be on the field by 7 am. Upon arriving we found the car was covered with a very heavy layer of dew, requiring lots of drying and cleaning to make it ready. At 9 am the judges came and inspected the car, asked lots of questions (luckily never one I couldn't answer--pure luck!) and spent about 15 minutes with us. At right is a view from the Cadillac deck overlooking part of the field before it got crowded.

Toward the end of the show our pager went off indicating we had to drive up to the grandstand area to recieve an award. Now that's all well and good,
but remember this is a gas-guzzling V16 carrying only two gallons of fuel. I drove to the staging area and shut the car off (conserving gas) then drove up to receive the award. We were presented with a nice trophy and ribbon for the "Amelia Island Award for the Most Elegant Formal Sedan or Town Car." Not only an honor, but also great recognition for the museum! After that I wondered if we would have enough gas to get back to the show field, let alone back to the truck area, but luck was with us and we had no problems.

The weather was great and we even got to spend a little time on the beach, enjoying some of the white sand and a nice walk.

Next stop - Chicksha Pre-War Swap Meet

Friday, March 18, 2011

Making an Entrance: The Iconic Flapper Coat

by Kristin Summerlin

In the Roaring 20s, a stylish flapper didn’t simply wear a coat for warmth. Often tailored to match a specific dress, her coat, with its slouchy, casual cut and luxe fabrics, proclaimed ease, wealth and opulence.

Flappers created a style all their own – often quite shocking to the older generation, who were dismayed by what they considered a “fast” and reckless lifestyle. Everyone today recognizes the flapper “look”: bobbed hair, cloche hats, boyish silhouette, beads (often worn with the long strands down the back). That look represents newfound freedom for women and the devil-may-care attitude of America after the Great War. Dresses revealed lots of skin – bared arms, increasingly shorter hemlines – and since smoking, drinking and applying lipstick and powder in public were all the rage among these young rebels, cigarette cases, flasks and make-up compacts became important fashion accessories.
This iconic flapper coat (1925-1928) – displayed beside a 1928 Pierce-Arrow – has all the bells and whistles to make it the “cat’s pajamas.”
  • The most sumptuous chestnut silk velvet pairs with opulent gold lamé in a completely reversible design.
  • Rich details conjure up the allure of the Orient: bold stylized roses, brilliant colors, and an exotic-looking fringed silk trim that mimics monkey fur, a popular embellishment of the time.
  • Worn lamé side out (as displayed), two oversized ruched velvet roses at the collar create a dramatic frame for the face and echo the orange roses in the lamé. The same orange roses are cut out and appliquéd at the back hem of the coat, embellished with gold braid and sequins.
  • Reversed, the coat is more understated, with an Art Deco flavor created by geometric bands of gold lamé against the soft chestnut velvet. To create interest, the velvet of the coat’s body is woven in a shadow stripe to contrast with matching plain-woven chestnut velvet at the hem and sleeves.
Here, the coat is paired with a green and gold lamé chemise and a cloche embellished with lamé roses, both from the same period.

Each of the garments in the Fountainhead Collection has a story to tell about the way people lived during the early days of America’s love affair with the automobile. We’re creating new signs to showcase important details of the garments on display, and we thought it might be interesting to share some of those stories here from time to time.

* Photos by Ronn Murray Photography

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ice Road Truckers Meet the Snow Flyer

The 2011 Tired Iron vintage snowmobile rally has come and gone, and it was a blast. We moved our 1917 Model T Snow Flyer into the shop last week to get it ready to participate in the rally's festivities on the frozen Chena River last weekend.  The temp was in the -5 F range--not too bad when the sun was shining, but when a little breeze showed up it got rather cold.

We got a nice surprise when Maya Sieber and Dave Redmon, stars of the History Channel's "Ice Road Truckers" and "IRT's Deadliest Roads" and their film crew stopped by for a visit. We introduced them to our original "ice road truck" and gave them a ride.  I think their recent adventures in India made them forget what cold is, as they did lack a little in the warm clothing department. The cold ride no doubt gave them a taste of what the old timers dealt with on the roads of the day. You can see the video here.