Friday, October 12, 2012

AUTOS: Back to America’s Car Museum - Tres visit...

Doug LeMay, son of the late Harold LeMay, backs the family's treasured 1948 Tucker into the new LeMay-America's Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington. Dean J. Koepfler / TNT Staff photographer. (Source: tacomanewstribune.com)
Yeah, I know I’m harpin’ on ‘bout my good fortunes; BUTT! Thanxs to mize trusty ‘Ol Tacoma Bureau Chief Mary Ellen, I once again got to go to what’s fast becoming my favourite Pacific Northwest haunt; thee LeMay-America’s Car Museum in sleepy ‘lil Tacoma, Washington, which I believe somebody was born there  under a bad, bad sign? And NOPE! NOT Mr. Hospenthal, as in Duh-duh-Danica’s significant other; Hey, check out where Paul Hospenthal’s from, eh? But instead some dude named Robert Cray, who I think has some Lakewood, WA connection via a ‘lil known band named Steepface, which his song “Back Door slam” makes me always think of Tacoma; but I digress...

Thus, I was down south in ‘TacomaLand once again and found myself gracing the ACM on a bright, sunny Columbus Day, which fortunately thee museum wasn’t closed upon this holiday... As the very first car inside the museo’s door was a 1-of-1 Roadster, a 1947 Kurtis Omohundro Special, which traveled the furthest for the just completed Kirkland Concours de Elegance, which was previously hosted at Maydenbayer Centre in downtown Kirkland, WA... Having traveled all the way from Tampa, Florida and presumably on loan; but as Mary Ellen’s getting tired of hearing; how do we get to the Indy Cars? Which are currently known as the SpeedZone exhibit...


As interestingly, thy IndyCarz had been rotated both location wise; side of wall and pointing opposite direction, with the Lotus 56 alone on the L/H side at top of ramp - looking somewherez between an overly pale yellow or eggshell white; SHIT! I hate my FUCKED-UP “Jellybean” vision... As I mentally know what Dayglow orange should look like, but it simply wasn’t happening once again for Mwah, due to the museum’s lighting; SHEISA!

And the rest of the other eight Indy Cars were scrambled order wise, although the other cars were much more visible/easier to view for Mwah on the R/H side wall facing north. As the J.C. AgajanianGrant Piston Ring Special actually didn’t look half bad this time...

Also discovered that the ’59 Roger Ward Leader Cards special is owned by Brad & Buzz Calkins thanxs solely to my personal guide Mary Ellen; as I was totally unawares that Buzz Calkins, whom I did a poor job  of explaining to Mary Ellen was a Indy Racing League driver - had a brother, as I wunder what Buzz is up to these dazes?

And I finally Got the number for the High Speed Miller Spl which was overly visible this time w/giant #16’s both on front cowl and tail section, as I’d managed to leave it out of my notes during my first two visits; as Mary Ellen very briefly read the cars history, as I think she said it ran in ten Indy 500’s?


Purposely spent very little time droolin’ over the Indy Cars; except for the AWESOME Gulf-Miller, although Mary Ellen sez her favourite is the 1964 Hurst Floor Shift Special with some sorta funky chrome? Metallic outstretched palms/hands thing-uh-majigee’s sticking out from its front bumpers...

Thus we went off towards some new unseen vehicles - walking past a row of limousines; one being an early 1930’s Packard complete w/large whitewall tyres, including the spare; rising glass partition(?) between driver/occupants.

At the top of this row sat the piece de la resistance, the museo’s 1948 Tucker, no. 7-of-51 produced. Having read previously how this was the one car that Harold LeMay always coveted but was unwilling to purchase,  as he enjoyed getting his automobiles on the CHEAP! (NOT to be ‘Cornfuzed with ‘Cheep Ganassi; Hya!) As after his death, his widow purchase the one vehicle her late husband had always wanted...

Alongside was a cherry red Dusenberg which I totally missed whilst  circulating upon my own - since I couldn’t see its colour at all, may be a plum or rose colour towards top of body/window belt? AIN’T it GURR-REAT being colour-blind on top of being visually impaired too? SHEISA!

Then as we meandered along and I heard the sounds of a dog’s leash behind Mwah; hey, blind people have Super-powers, uze know? Hur-hur-hur! A woman in a wheelchair with a service dog introduced herself to us, asking me how my guide was trained in Descriptive Services? Huh? I’ve never heard of that term before.

Yet what are the odds of two legally blind people meeting at a car museum? As I think her name was Christine? As she told us she had 20/1600 vision and expected to be totally blind by age 50; URGH! Having been born cross-eyed, had had surgery to correct this and now was losing her vision, on top of having “CP,” Cerebral Palsy. She was 42, a lawyer stationed in Seattle representing disabled Canadians who get in trouble and on holiday w/her husband and son who has Autism.

We walked back to the Tucker with her slowly and she asked me if she could tell me what colour it was? Sure, informing me the Tucker was azure blue, as her husband told us it was the first vehicle with both turn signals & seatbelts before we bid our adieus’...

Then further along the centre aisle there was what appeared to look to me like the original SUV, a very boxy, upright looking Futuristic 88 woody station wagon which I’d never heard of; 1-of-2,600 examples produced.

Further along was an immensely large, long stretch ‘O automobile called a 1953 Kaiser Dragon, replete with some sorta bamboo weave canvas type top and matching upholstered dashboard, with some sort of luxurious leather seats - the car’s designers having polled women over what type of amenities they’d desire in a modern automobile and hence these offbeat adornments...

As we headed towards the exit/entry doors, a fleet of antiques greeted us; a 1906 Ford Model N, a speedster shaped vehicle w/boatail, reportedly the precursor to the Model T. A REO the Fifth! (ST5) Having to boast my trivial knowledge of this was where the REO in R.E.O. Speedwagon comes from... As the initials stand for Ransom E. Olds, Y’all know, that Grand-pappy of your father’s Oldsmobile.

There was also a 1913 Somme-thun-ruther, forgot what it was, since I didn’t come equipped to take either notes or pictures... As I think it was whatever had merged with Pontiac in order to become the Pontiac Motor Company; so perhaps it was a Pontiac? If so, then may be it was duh original “Wide-track,” Yuhs know; “Wider is better!” (Right?) As I don’t know why that stupid slogan from a long ago Pontiac Grand Prix commercial sticks in my cranium...

Yet Mary Ellen was more impressed by the Packard that had been found in Eastern WA seeing duty as an apple truck before being rescued. Thought she said something ‘bout the restoration being aided by Bill Harrah in the mid/late 1950’s, as in the ‘Juan, thee only Bill Harrah of thee Harrah’s empire in “Sin City,” Las Vegas, albeit when I think of Harrah’s I think Reno, Nevada instead... After all that’s where the great National Automobile car museum resides with many automobiles from the Harrah’s collection; but I digress...

As Mary Ellen read on about how afterwards, the LeMay’s new acquisition was taken upon a 9,600 mile coast-to-coast road trip with a decal being affixed to the Packard’s lower portion of the split front windshield, as there musta been 20+ stickers of different states driven thru upon it...

Out in the lobby was an Edsel Ford roadster special, very Spartan, w/zero ‘Bling, not even a hood ornament, etc, w/just a few small gauges upon the no-nonsense dashboard...

Then a 1904 F.I.A.T sat on display nearest the glass entryway/lobby; 1 of 20 produced and the only one left remaining known in existence. Featuring a 116-inch wheelbase; just shy of 10-feet long - which doesn’t include overall length... As this antique came originally with a four cylinder engine which was later replaced with a six cylinder which produced five additional horsepower; CRIKEYS! As ironically Mary Ellen discovered the very same car as the Tacoma Weekly’s Car of the Week in a paper copy at the TacomaDome bus station as I awaited my motor coach to take me home...

Oh yeah, before we got to the Edsel and F.I.A.T. and prior to the Centenarian’s... There was a small gathering of early ‘70’s muscle cars including an early ‘70’s Buick Riviera as we swept back to view a red 64 ½(?) Mustang, which was introduced on April 13, 1964 at the World’s Fair, as the rest is history as they say... And then Mary Ellen went down memory lane about an old Ford Ranchero she’d once owned, while I think we were gawkin’ at a Galaxie?

As fortunately, Mary Ellen’s now been kind enough to take me to what some vernacular calls simply ACM, nee America’s Car Museum tres times; which I simply cannot get over how FANTASTIC of a museo it is! Or the fact that I’ve now been there three times and still haven’t seen the whole damn place yet! Not to mention they seem to constantly be adding vehicles, along with re-arranging the exhibits...

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