Audrain showcases New England’s hot-rod builders

Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.

“The Street to the Strip: New England Hot Rods 1945-1965” is the title of the new exhibition running through November 14 at the Audrain Automobile Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. Featured are 17 period hot rods, two period engines on stands, and a recent build done in what the museum calls “the vintage New England spirit.”

“While hot rodding is synonymous with Southern California and Bonneville since the late 1930s, creations from New England builders garnered national attention from appearances at such notable gatherings as the famed Autorama shows in Hartford, Connecticut, and on local drag strips including Charlestown, Orange, and Sanford,” noted David de Muzio, the museum’s curator. 

“Our exhibit will tell the little-known stories of these young rodders in southern New England and give them a platform to showcase their creations.”

Featured in the exhibit are builds by such Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts hot rodders as George Choma, Paul “Fitzy” Fitzgerald, Norm Wallace, Frank Maratta, Michael “Jack” Hartney, Fred Steele and Fran Bannister.

From country music to Corvettes

Sharon Brawner

After nearly 20 years at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, Sharon Brawner is moving back home to become president and chief executive at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

“Not only does Sharon have extensive experience leading one of the most successful museums in the world, but she’s also a true car buff who was born and raised in Kentucky,” Kai Spande, who chaired the museum’s search committee, is quoted in the announcement. “We’re looking forward to a bright future with Sharon in the driver’s seat.”

“As a Kentucky native and a true car enthusiast, I have long been a fan of the Corvette,” Brawner is quoted. “I’m thrilled to be able to bring my experience in tourism, museum, and non-profit leadership to the National Corvette Museum.”

Brawner is a graduate of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. Before joining the leadership team at the country music museum, she was vice president of the Nashville Sounds, a Triple-A baseball team.

Mr. Toad’s ride returns to the road

Built for the 1996 film adaption of the classic story, The Wind in the Willows, Mr. Toad’s car fell into neglect but has been restored by the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, UK, and is being regularly exercised on the museum’s roadways.

“A four-wheeled star of Terry Jones’ film, which was later renamed Mr Toads Wild Ride, the replica Edwardian car has been brought back to life by the National Motor Museum engineers, following years of neglect,” the museum reports, which notes that the vehicle was damaged when it was crashed on purpose by “the reckless Mr. Toad.”

The car was suspended from the ceiling of the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Florida for several years, and then was stored in a shipping container with many rubber bits melting from the heat. The car was found in 2020 by movie-car expert Gordon Grant, who shipped it the Beaulieu restoration shop in the UK.

“The car may look like it dates from the early years of motoring, but in fact it was built in 1995 at Shepperton Studios especially for the film, in which director Jones also played Mr Toad, alongside a star-studded cast (including other former members of Monty Python). As the story called for a glamorous Edwardian-era tourer to be driven by the obsessive amphibian, a convincing replica was built.”

The museum says the car’s chassis was inspired by that of a 1910 Hotchkiss 20/30, and was modified from a short-wheelbase Land Rover and uses Land Rover running gear.

AACA teaching teachers

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, offer what are called Act 48-approved history-focused and innovation-centered educational units and lesson plans for professional teachers. One is “A Historic View of the American Automobile,” another is a “Model T Driving Experience.”

For details, visit the museum’s Act 48 webpage.

The museum also has expanded its display of bus models, with John Dockendorf donating two more cases of models, including one on the Pickwick NiteCoach, which had 14 sleeping berths and was used by Greyhound, Trailways and others.

BMW hosts children during IAA Mobility

In conjunction with the IAA Mobility 2021 international auto show in Munich, the BMW Museum is staging a special program September 7 to 12 in its Junior Museum. Children will be encouraged to be “sustainability heroes” through special exhibits and activities. 

The museum opened a special “Re-Imagine” exhibition on September 1 featuring 30 displays related to the future of mobility.

Packard family staff subject of lecture

“Working for the Packard Family: A Century of Domestic Service (1860-1966)” is the subject to be presented at noon, September 11, at the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio.

“During the nineteenth century, it was common for even middle-class urban American families to employ a live-in domestic servant, that is, a woman who worked as a cook, maid, waitress, nanny and laundress, usually at a very low wage,” the museum notes, adding that the family employed more staff than needed during the Depression to provide people with income. 

“Wealthy Americans, like the Packard family, often employed large staffs, including men who labored as gardeners, butlers, and coachmen. From 1860 until the youngest Packard daughter Olive’s death in 1966, the Packard family employed cooks, maids, butlers, chauffeurs and gardeners, many of them immigrants and African-Americans. The value of their labor and the strength of character of these remarkable men and women is deserving of recognition.”

Thus Charles Ohlin, the museum’s director of educational services, will share the stories of people such as George Tibbs, J.W. Packard chauffeur and sometimes chef for more than 30 years; Noah Cornish who worked for two generations of Packard family members and was a charter member of the Lakewood (New York) Hose Company (fire department) with experience in water rescue on Lake Chautauqua; and Carrie Green Mountain, who became a philanthropist and would leave considerable wealth to the Salvation Army.

Big trucks at British museum

Around 300 trucks are expected September 11 and 12 for the Retro Truck Show at the 11th British Motor Museum in Gaydon. The museum notes that the big trucks provide one of its most popular attractions. 

The weekend includes a model show inside the museum and camping on the museum grounds.

Special events this weekend

The National Corvette Museums 27th anniversary celebration runs September 2-4. At a dinner event September 2, Bowling Green assembly plant manager Kai Spande will host a panel discussion about “Small Block Power” featuring Jordan Lee, global chief engineer for the famed Chevy small-block V8, and Dick Ruzzin, former Chevrolet and GM Europe director of design.

The Corvette Museum also opens a new exhibit, “24 at 20: Earnhardt, Corvette, and the Overall Win at Daytona,” on September 2. The exhibit opening features a seminar with racer Andy Pilgrim, former Corvette Racing manager Doug Fehan, and former Corvette Racing marketing manager Gary Claudio.

From 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. on September 3, racer Lyn St. James will be at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum for a meet and greet. The museum hosts the Connecting Rods Lunch and Gatsby Gala on September 4.

The Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, stages its annual Fall Ford Garage Sale on September 4 for anyone with Mustang parts or memorabilia to sell.

It’s “Jaguar at Gaydon” on September 4 when the British Motor Museum celebrates William Lyons’ 120th birthday as well as the 25th anniversary of the XK8.

The Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine hosts its vintage motorcycle festival September 4-5.

Mark your calendar

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, hosts the Ultimate Truck Show on September 10-11 featuring not only pickups and 4x4s but wreckers and emergency-response vehicles. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. on September 10 and 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on September 11.

The AACA Library and Research Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, stages its Music & Motors event from noon until 6 p.m. on September 11. 

LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, stages its annual Wheels & Heels gala on September 11.

On September 11-12, in addition to its motorcycling exhibition, the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, will host a Heritage Throwback Weekend with pre-registered visitors invited to ride the newest BMW motorcycles. 

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, will close its “The Vision Realized: 60 Years of Mid-Engine Corvette Design” exhibit on September 12. Replacing that exhibit will be “Generations of Innovations,” which opens October 1 and runs through December 31.

On September 12 starting at 12:30 p.m., the Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, and the Wrecking Crew Mustang Club will stage a 9/11 Remembrance Ford car show to benefit the Concord Fire Department.

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, hosts a car show September 12 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. featuring the NorCal Kit Car Club vehicles.

The Brooklands Museum in England plans a special celebration of the life of the late Stirling Moss on September 12 with more than 35 vehicles he raced on display.

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon hosts the free “Gaydon Gathering” car show on September 14 from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, has something special planned for September 16 and its Third Thursday lecture series, which features “an Evening with Malcolm Bricklin,” chief executive of Visionary Vehicles and the person who brought to North America Subaru, Yugo and the Bricklin. The event will be presented via Zoom and a $10 donation to the museum is suggested as part of the registration process.

“Stirling Moss, The Champion that Wasn’t” is the theme for the September 18 Demo Day at Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia. Cars taking part in the parking lot exercise session include a 1953 Jaguar C-type and 1956 D-type, 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, 1956 Maserati 300S and 1958 Aston Martin DBR1.

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in northeast Indiana stages its third “Duesies & Movies” drive-in theater event of the season September 18, showing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, hosts a car show September 12 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. featuring the East Bay Street Dreams car club.

The Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine hosts a program at 6 p.m. on September 23 with Jeff Mahl “The NY to Paris Race 1908” with author Jeff Mahl presenting “The Great Auto Race – New York to Paris 1908.”

The annual Saratoga Motorcar Auction at the Saratoga Automobile Museum in upstate New York is scheduled for September 24-25.

CruiseFest on Fulton Avenue, an annual event that benefits the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento, is scheduled for October 2, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Special features of the cruise this year are Save Mart’s 12-foot tall, 454cid Chevy V8-powered “mega-motorized shopping cart,” and the 7th of 14 officially licensed replica Batmobiles, this one owned by Bob Goldsand of Meadow View, California.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, resumes its annual “Night at the Museum” fundraiser on October 6 with a theme of “Cars and Country Music.” Troy Engle and Southern Skies will perform at the event that serves as the kickoff to “Fall Hershey.”

Herzog Motorsports, the Missouri-based racing team that has won in a variety of events, from off-road racing in Baja to Jimmie Johnson’s transition to stock car racing, will be honored October 15-16 in a special event at the Speedway Motorsports Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, hosts its 30th anniversary All British Motor Show from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on October 17.

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon stages the Great British Model Railway Show on October 30 and 31 featuring 30 scale-model railroad layouts in various gauges.

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