Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Classic Garage

"Dick's Classic Garage is dedicated to the preservation and display of the history of the automobile."

That simple sentence, and a few photos of classic autos, was all it took to put a tour of this museum on my list of places to see.

Proudly positioned just inside the museum was this 1948 Tucker Torpedo. Only 50 Tucker autos were built. This is Number 50 and the odometer reads 0000.5 miles.
Many components and features of the car were innovative and far ahead of their time. The most recognizable feature of the Tucker, a directional third headlight, known as the "Cyclops Eye", would turn on at steering angles of greater than 10 degrees to light the car's path around corners.

The car was rear-engined and rear wheel drive. A perimeter frame surrounded the vehicle for crash protection, as well as a roll bar integrated into the roof. The steering box was behind the front axle to protect the driver in a front-end accident.

The instrument panel and all controls were within easy reach of the steering wheel, and the dash was padded for safety. The windshield was designed to pop out in a collision to protect occupants. The car also featured seat belts, a first in its day.

When I read that Tucker envisioned several other innovations which were later abandoned--magnesium wheels, disc brakes, fuel injection, self-sealing tubeless tires, a direct-drive torque converter transmission...--my eyes begin to glaze over.

I'm impressed that this was occurring in 1948, but understand very little of the workings of these innovations.

And, unfor-tunately, that is why I can only appreciate the beauty in the design and exterior of autos like this 1931 Packard Deluxe 8 Roadster.

Understanding what goes on under the hood shall remain a mystery to me.

However, what appears on the hood is of interest. The Packard's radiator cap or hood ornament (right) and that of the 1931 Cadillac 355 Roadster (below) are real attention grabbers.

The rumble seat seems to have been a great marketing innovation--until I start thinking about how to get into the seat--and how to remain in the seat, comfortably.

The two photos here show features of a 1935 Auburn Speedster that I found interesting.

This is a 1934 Duesenberg Super-charged Dual Cowl Phaeton,

a view featuring its grill and headlights, and

its hood ornament.

Shown here is a 1931 Cadillac 452A V-16 Sport Phaeton. The dual-windshield, V-16 Phaeton was popular among sports and entertainers, including Babe Ruth.

A view of the Phaeton's grill and headlights,

its hood ornament, and

a close-up of the grill.

A 1941 Packard 110 Series 1900 and

its magnificent hood ornament.

One of the more recent vintages of autos in the museum is this 1951 Studebaker Chamption Convertible.

I think I would have liked to have a few days to hang around the workshops of the Duesenberg brothers--or Preston Tucker.

By the way, in August, 2010, at RM's Monterey auction, Tucker #45 sold for the record-breaking price of $1,127,500.

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