Vintage parcel-shelf artifacts become museum exhibit

Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.

“I’ve got 16 speakers crossin’ my back dash

A little Tobin’ dog watching’ everybody pass

Dual antennas whippin’ in the wind

Lord, there ain’t a country station that I can’t tune in…”

— Aaron Tipton, There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With the Radio

When we were young enough to fit, my brother and I battled to see which of us got to climb up into the shelf beneath the rear window of the family sedan, which we thought was the best place to be at night to watch the stars as we traveled.

Fortunately, Dad was an excellent driver and neither Mark nor I ever became slam-on-the-brake projectiles flying off what was called the package or parcel shelf, and what country-western songwriters termed “the back dash.”

This flight (pun intended) of memory is triggered by yet another of the “33 Extras” displays at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, where one of those extras focuses on what Mercedes calls the rear shelf.

“The ’33 Extras’ are a particular highlight; they can bring the history of personal mobility and motoring culture to life using details that are often surprising,” the museum notes. 

For example, “If you were a man in the middle of the 20th century and liked to dress elegantly, you probably wore a hat as headgear outside the house. However, in a closed car – especially in a saloon or coupé – this was not necessary and the hat could be removed. The permanently installed cover over the luggage compartment proved to be the perfect stowage space for fedora, homburg, panama… “

Another artifact in the exhibit is, believe it or not, a roll of toilet paper with a crocheted cover, which the museum reports was frequently seen through rear windows because “the sanitary infrastructure along trunk roads did not develop quite as fast as the enthusiasm for excursions in one’s own car. So it was a good idea to have backup on board.”

Another item displayed is what appears to be a small pillow or cushion, but in fact it was simply a way to soften the view of the first-aid kit residing within. 

Perhaps the most popular back-dash accessory is the bobblehead dog. 

“It became established as a mascot in cars in the 1960s: the plastic figure of a brown, short-haired sausage dog had a movable head that bobbed up and down as the car moved,” the museum said. 

However, is adds, “In the 1980s, this bobblehead was then removed from most cars because it was felt to be a rather bourgeois accessory. A short time later, however, the appreciators of young classics and other lovers of popular culture of the late 20th century rediscovered it as an iconic, popular figure.”

Mercedes museum reopens

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 cars from 2014 to 2020 on temporary display | Museum photo

The Mercedes-Benz Museum has reopened to visitors after the latest round of coronavirus-forced closures. The museum reopened June 1 with two new exhibits, a special presentation of Formula One cars, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Silver Arrows that won seven consectutive championships from 2014-2020, and another titled the “Future of Mobility.”

Also being featured is the Mercedes star the formerly resided on the top of the tower of the main train station in Stuttgart

Elvis Presley’s BMW 507 on display

Elvis Presley’s BMW 507 | BMW Museum photos

In Munich, Germany, a former railway repair shop has been reopened as Motorworld München, an event venue that features not only places to eat but automotive and motorcycle retail shopping, sales and service. 

The BMW Group has opened its own showroom at the facility where it displays not only its newest vehicles, but some historic ones as well, including a quartet on loan from the BMW Museum, including Elvis Presley’s BMW 507. As part of the display, there’s “The Studio,” a karaoke setup so visitors can sing Elvis songs from the 1950s.

Simeone resumes Demo Days

1938 Avons Voisin C28
1938 Avons Voisin C28 will be among the cars being exercised in the Simeone’s parking lot | Museum photo

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia plans to resume its Demo Days program June 5-6 with cars from its newest permanent exhibit, the Salon of Sports Car Style and Design being exercised in the parking lot both days. Those cars include a 1933 Squire roadster, 1936 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante, 1938 Avons Voisin C28, 1938 Bentley 4.5-Liter coupe, 1953 Jaguar XK120 fixed-head coupe and 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing.

Scrutineering begins at 11:15 a.m. with demonstrations from 12:30 pm. to 1 p.m., and with visitors able to inspect and photograph the cars from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

The museum also has opened the Patterson Gallery, featuring more than 20 pieces of automotive art by Alfredo de la Maria. 

Harley museum open 7 days

Harley IRONe balance bike

The Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee has returned to welcoming visitors 7 days a week and starting June 3, Thursday Bike Nights returned, and with live music.

Starting June 6, IRONe demonstrations will be offered in Motorcycle Plaza featuring electric balance bikes designed for children to prepare for pedal-powered bicycles and, of course, electric and petroleum-powered motorcycles. 

Motorcycle championships celebrated

The Troy Story | Museum photo

The Ducati Museum in Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy) is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Troy Bayliss’s first world motorcycle racing championship with a special exhibit that runs through September 19 at the museum. 

Well, the exhibit won’t be in the museum July 1-4 when it moves to the 2021 Motor Valley Fest in Modena, Italy.

“Troy Story: The Legend of a Champion” shares the story of the three-time world champion, including how, as a replacement rider for an injured Carl Fogarty, Bayliss joined the Ducati Infostrada team in 2000 and posted two victories and earned factory rider status.

New mural at Canadian museum

‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’ | Museum photo

The Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, hopes to be able to reopen to visitors this summer as part of the Ontario Reopening Plan, but in the meantime, there is something new to see just behind the museum. It’s a new mural that’s part of Oshawa’s “Signs of Life” mural project. The mural, designed by Dani Crosby and painted by Chad Tyson, proclaims, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

The museum continues its Third Thursday Zoom presentations on June 17 with Part 2 of “Oshawa’s Automotive Community: 1945-2019.”

Billie Eilish Dodge pops up at Petersen

In the video for her Grammy Award-winning song, everything i wanted, cq on song title style Billie Eilish drives a Dodge Challenger into the ocean with her brother and bandmate Finneas O’Connell in the passenger seat. 

A replica of the car is on display through June 27 as a pop-up exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, where the video plays as a backdrop.

Special events this weekend

The North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, launches its 2021 outdoor events calendar June 5 with a showcase by the New Hampshire Muscle Cars, with visitors offered a chance to sit inside a 1,400-horsepower funny car during start up.

The Museum of Bus Transportation at Hershey, Pennsylvania, hosts its Spring Fling on June 5 to celebrate the “golden age” of bus and motorcoach transportation. Awards will be given for best of show 1950s and 1960s, oldest and traveled farthest to attend. For details, visit the museum website.

Strutter, billed as the nation’s premiere KISS tribute band, will perform on the Gilmore Car Museum campus in Hickory Corners, Michigan, at 8 p.m. (Eastern) on June 5.

John Oreovicz will present his book, Indy Split, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on June 5 at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California.

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum and Hagerty Drivers Foundation host a Castle Duesenberg Roundtable via Zoom at 8 p.m. (Eastern) June 6 featuring museum director Brandon Anderson and curator Sam Grate and Casey Maxon and Diane Parker of the Hagerty foundation (nee Historic Vehicle Association).

Britain’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu hosts its Simply Porsche car show on June 6.

Mark your calendar

Hagerty and the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan, launch a summer series of events with a series of displays in the museum and its parking lot on “the many styles of auto racing.”

June 12 is Motorbike Day at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The event will include a show featuring dirt, road, competition, scooters, mopeds and minibikes, a motorcycle-themed flea market and a ride through the Pennsylvania countryside.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum hosts a cars & coffee cruise-in and free museum admission from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on June 12.

The AMA Gypsy Tour charity motorcycle ride visits the North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, on June 13.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will host a “Sizzlin’ Summer Cruise In” from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on June 19. Among the event features will be a visit by Jimmy Rosen, his book on vintage gas stations, Got Gas?, and his 1947 Plymouth, and a Studebaker and Tucker parade.

Hello, I’m Paul Page: It’s Race Day in Indianapolis and its authors, Paul Page and J. R. Elrod, will be featured from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on June 19 at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California.

There are more than cars to see in Beaulieu, England, home to the National Motor Museum. From June 19 to August 30, the Beaulieu Palace House will showcase more than 250 sculptures in its gardens and inside the Montagu family home. And June 19 is the date for the annual Simply VW show.

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, not only offers free admission for dads on Father’s Day, June 20, but free Vault tours as well. The museum also will have three local food trucks on side that day — Steaming Goat sandwiches, Coco’s Italian pizza and Bradley’s Creamery ice cream.

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, hosts a Father’s Day car show on June 20.

Beaulieu and its National Motor Museum and the Solent Renegades club co-host a Hot Rod & Custom Show on June 20.  The event includes the Vintage Pop-Up marketplace with retro fashions, housewares and automobile accessories.

Night to Remember performs June 24 at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museums free summer concert series in northeastern Indiana.  Subsequent performances are scheduled July 29 by the Hubie Ashcraft Band, August 26 by Big Caddy Daddy and September 23 by Whoa! Man.

Van Halen 2, a tribute band, will perform at 8 p.m. on June 25 on the Gilmore Car Museum campus in Hickory Corners, Michigan. Funds from the $20 admission charge go toward K-12 educational tours of the museum and the Gilmore Garage Works high school training program.

The North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, hosts the Nor-Eastern Pontiac Club for an outdoor car show on June 26.

The Miles through Time museum in Clarkesville, Georgia, hosts its fifth annual car show at the Old Clarkesville Mill from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on June 26. 

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon hosts the BMC & Leyland Show on July 11, a gathering of British Motor Corporation, British Leyland and Rover Group vehicles. Celebrated this year are the 50th anniversary of the Morris Marina, a Historic Rally Display by the Historic Marathon Rally Group and the Mini Cooper Register, and a display of emergency service vehicles.

It’s “Simply Vauxhall” on July 17 at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, UK, where Vauxhall vehicles will gather for a show.

The inaugural North East Motor Sports Museum rally-tour Around the Lake is scheduled for July 31. The event begins at the museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, and will take scenic roads to the Vintage Racing Stables car collection in Sanbornton. the event is limited to 1972 or earlier vehicles.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email larrye@classiccars.com

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