Written by Nicole Ellan James
Upon entering the Cars of Dreams Museum, housed in Palm Beach, FL, visitors are transported to New York’s Coney Island, set in a bygone era frozen in time — almost literally.
Nostalgia from John Staluppi’s youth surrounds you from every angle. Multiple “roads” offer the promise of unique adventures, each lined with vintage streetlights and benches. Collector cars glisten under the lights, and your eyes immediately land on the full-size amusement park dodge-em bumper car ride before flickering over to the vintage diner.
It doesn’t take long to figure out where you are supposed to be or when. Accented by hand-painted murals of the world-famous Cyclone roller coaster and a motif of the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty, the Cars of Dreams Museum serves as an entire town dedicated to preserving Staluppi’s childhood memories.
As you make your way through the museum and toward the Coney Island Arcade and
beachfront boardwalk — complete with a Carvel ice cream store — you will pass a fire station and drive-in theater. Nearby, two mannequins dressed as mechanics wait patiently for customers at a gas station service shop.
Everything within the museum works together to create a nostalgic mood that’s readily appreciated by everyone, even those who have never experienced the iconic amusement park.
Automobilia and memorabilia from the transformative space will be offered during the 2022 Palm Beach Auction, April 7-9 at the South Florida Fairgrounds.
“The automobilia and memorabilia is of the same high-quality caliber as the museum’s car collection that is also crossing the auction block,” said Rory Brinkman, longtime Barrett-Jackson Automobilia director.
The most significant piece offered from the collection is a fully functional full-size amusement park Dodge-Em Bumper Car Ride (Lot #8299.9). It features ten operating bumper cars and measures approximately 36 feet long by 50 feet wide by 10.5 feet high. The ride has been restored to “Day 1 condition” and upgraded with a floor pick-up system that eliminates the traditional overhead ceiling grid.
Due to space limitations, the ride will not be on-site at the auction and is being sold by private treaty, which means Barrett-Jackson will negotiate the sale on behalf of the consigner during the auction.
Included in the sale, the ride will be disassembled, shipped and reassembled at the buyer’s location.
Additionally offered by private treaty is a Lionel Train Set (Lot #8299.8). “It’s one of the most impressive modern train sets ever assembled,” Brinkman said.
The elaborate set comprises more than eight individual working locomotives with towns and villages. There are about 80 buildings in the train set itself — each fully lit — complemented by hillsides and mountains. There’s even a working helicopter and hot air balloon.
The collection includes several vintage coin-operated kiddie rides that will be on the auction block with No Reserve in Palm Beach, such as Lot #8269, Indian Motorcycle Kiddie Ride, which is chrome-plated with a police motif, and Lot #8281, 1950s Chris-Craft Woody Speed Boat Kiddie Ride. Both have received concourse-level restorations and are fully functional with working lights.
“Coin-operated rides have become six-figure items at the auction,” Brinkman said. Other notable kiddie rides include a restored 1950s Ride The Champion Kiddie Ride (Lot #8271), which features a high-end restoration with a view window to display working mechanics, and a circa 1950s Champion Horse Kiddie Ride (Lot #7266).
Several vintage bicycles are also among the top offerings from the collection. Most notably, a 1950 Monark Gene Autry Bicycle (Lot #7271) that was restored to perfection. It features a Trigger head mascot, fringed saddle skirt blanket, studded holster complete with Gene Autry cap gun and more. Additionally, a museum-quality 1949 Shelby Donald Duck Bicycle (Lot #8273) with a three-dimensional Donald Duck mascot with a working headlight and taillight is offered.
Two Transformers statues from the collection are offered with No Reserve on the Palm Beach block. Standing at 7.5 feet tall, the hand-built Transformers Bumblebee Statue (Lot #8289) and Transformers Optimus Prime Statue (Lot #8289.1) were each made from more than 10,000 automotive parts, including brake drums, shocks, camshafts and spark plugs, among other things. Each took man-hours 3,000 man-hours to build and features light-up eyes.
Another notable lot from the collection is the life-size Terminator T-800 Statue (Lot #7248) inspired by the sci-fi classic “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” The figure stands more than 77 inches tall and is made of metal, polystone, fiberglass and resin.
Other top collectibles include a 1947 Seeburg Model #147 “Trash Can” Jukebox (Lot #7268); and music memorabilia such as an Eagles Autographed Guitar (Lot #8263.1) signed by Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Don Felder and others; in addition to racing memorabilia from Carroll Shelby, Jimmy Johnson and Linda Vaughn.
Nostalgic, whimsical and unique, these authentic pieces of automobilia and memorabilia — plus many more items — will be offered with No Reserve each morning at the 2022 Palm Beach Auction.