Jan. 18, 2012 at 12:09pmTo Craft the Finest Automobiles in America

The 1956 Continental Mark II

"To craft the finest automobiles in America" - was the motto of short-lived Continental Division of Ford Motor Company, and during its two year production run, the division produced the Continental Mark II series.
Boone Continental 1

Our newest addition to the collection is this 1956 Continental Mark II, donated to America’s Car Museum by Steve Boone, owner of Northwest Harley Davidson in Lacy, WA. Steve, who has been a tireless LeMay- America's Car Museum supporter, is a member of the Museum's Board of Directors and the Chairperson of ACM’s Collection Committee.

The Mark II is a beautiful display example of Ford’s forward thinking in engineering design and attention to quality. When Steve acquired the car he said it caught his eye for its sleek look and luxury interior. “I thought it was just a beautiful car!”, Steve tells us.

Keep Reading →

Jan. 11, 2012 at 4:47pmAvanti Rescue Update-Green Sparkle Gone!

After 40 years, the First Avanti is no longer Green Sparkle and is on its way back to its original Avanti White.

Over the past couple of months, ACM’s Avanti has undergone some major changes and our monthly updates on the ACM’s Collection pages have been showcasing the recent progress. The car has been completely stripped by our all-volunteer rescue team in Bellingham, Washington, under the direction of James Bell of the Bell Studebaker Museum. In final preparation for paint removal, James and his crew cleared out everything under the car-- the driveline, brake and fuel lines, exhaust, etc. so they wouldn’t be in the way of soda blasting the frame. The volunteer crew, who are all members of the Whatcom County chapter of the Studebaker Driver’s Club, have meticulously dismantled the car taking care to label and bag all parts. The rear end was swapped out with a temporary one and the refreshed rear-end, new leaf springs plus suspension from the A-arms out in front will be replaced once the car has returned for re-assembly.
Read More --->

Keep Reading →

Dec. 28, 2011 at 5:14pmBeautiful Bullet Nose Coupe

1951 Studebaker Champion Starlight

America's Car Museum received an extra special gift in our stocking this year from Dick Hannah of Vancouver Washington. This 1951 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe was lovingly restored by Dick Hannah Dealerships (under Mr. Hannah's direction) in 2009 and was frequently on display at the dealership's showroom.

Studebaker's design team created the Starlight under the direction of  legendary Raymond Loewy and final designs were executed by Virgil Exner.  The daring 1950-51 Bullet-nose Studebaker has become one of the most iconic American automotive designs.
Hannah 51 Stude

Keep Reading →

Nov. 7, 2011 at 3:56pmMove to the New Museum...One car at a time!

Car move truck1After two years preparing the collection for our new museum, it was finally time to move from Collection Management’s temporary home in Fife to our new 165,000 square foot building in Tacoma! 

Our first day of car moves into the museum was primarily all of the pre-war vehicles we had ready and waiting at our warehouse.  I selected these cars because many are open cars with delicate interiors and exteriors, and it was looking like our first day was going to be excellent weather for moving them safely.

Keep Reading →

Nov. 4, 2011 at 5:15pmACM Volunteers Make Things Happen!

SIAS_1Without the skilled and tireless efforts of our dedicated team of volunteers, we would not have been able to transfer operations from the temporary headquarters in Fife to the new Museum campus nearly as quickly or smoothly. Working in two teams of four to six people each, our volunteers helped with the office move and both days dedicated to moving vehicles. Judging from the smiles on the faces of the volunteers in these photos, it's safe to say the effort, though hard, was also a lot of fun.

Keep Reading →

Jun. 20, 2010 at 12:15pmHenry Ford and All American Pastimes: Cars and BBQs

As we move into summer, Americans start polishing off the collector car and getting out the BBQ. I never put the two activities together other than they are both favorite summer pastimes, however they are both closely related thanks to Henry Ford.  I found the start of this article in our archives which was submitted by museum volunteer John Austin , who is the former President of the Galloping Gertie Model A Ford Club of Tacoma Washington

Model T’s Ford bodies are composed of a sheet metal skin over a wooden frame. Henry Ford produced over 15 million Model T’s over its 19-year run (1908-1927), and simultaneously produced vast quantities of wood waste.

E.G. Kingsford,  a relative of Mr. Ford who owned a Ford dealership and also happened to be a real estate agent, engineered the purchase of over 313,000 acres of land on the Michigan Upper Peninsula upon which a sawmill and wooden auto parts plant were built in 1920.  Soon after Ford, who was known as a notoriously frugal businessman, partnered with Kingsford and founded the Kingsford Company to reclaim saleable byproducts from the manufacturing  waste.  For every ton of scrap wood produced, this plant was able to extract 610 pounds of charcoal. This charcoal was manufactured into briquettes and sold under the name Ford Charcoal Briquettes. Now a ready source for outdoor cooking, this was the beginning of Americans cooking and barbecuing with charcoal.

Briquettes were re-named Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes (in honor of E.G.) a brand that still exists today. As a result of his entrepreneurial sense, Henry Ford is credited as forming the foundations of two industries both the automobile industry and the charcoal briquette industry.


May. 20, 2010 at 1:25pmShow Me The Money: What's My Car Worth?

A classic or collectible car for many of us car collectors is not only like a member of the family, it is also a valuable asset. Looking at Kelly Blue book, NADA classic car pricing or recent auction valuations might give you a good ball-park estimate, but many times for older classics, high performance cars or cars that have been customized, these avenues may not be fully adequate. To protect your assets for “agreed or replacement value” insurance policies, an appraisal by a certified automotive appraiser is the way to go.

I frequently receive calls asking for information on auto appraisers and whom we would recommend for them to contact. Appraising an automobile takes a professional who specializes in your particular era of vehicle. Therefore, it would be difficult for one to recommend an appraiser for all vehicles. I usually recommend contacting verified appraisal organizations, and requesting a list of appraisers in their area.

Always interview potential appraisers before you give one the job. Before you hire an appraiser, ask each of them:

  • About their experience levels. Some appraisers cost more than others, particularly those with expertise in certain types of cars.
  • How long they've been appraising cars.
  • To see examples of their appraisals. You will want to be clear about the level of detail they will give before you hire anyone. I have seen one-sheet appraisals with minimal information and multi-page appraisals with historical research specific to the vehicle included with the appraisal.

Auto Appraisers Group (AAG), headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia is one such source for locating an appraiser qualified to assess the value of your vehicle. They have a very informative website on how to select an appraiser.

International Society of Appraisers (ISA), headquartered in Chicago, Illinois is another source one can explore. The ISA appraiser lists are not limited to just automobiles; appraisers of collectibles, jewelry furniture and more can be found.

International Automotive Appraisers Association (IAAA), headquartered in Montvale, NJ boasts a membership of certified Professional Appraisers from the United States, Australia, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Apr. 26, 2010 at 4:04pm2010 WA Hot Rod Hall of Fame Awards

I had the pleasure last night to attend the Washington State Hot Rod Hall of Fame’s Annual awards banquet at the Tacoma Convention Center.  For those of you who have not attended this event in the past, I would recommend making it next year:  the 2011 banquet will be held at the Everett Holiday Inn in conjunction with the Cruizin' to Colby show.

In addition to a  large and enthusiastic crowd (estimated to be over 600), there was a nice selection of raffle prizes and several new inductees were named, in addition to the 40+ past inductees who were honored:

Outstanding Young Hot Rodders: 
- Andy Patton
- Nick Lampert

50 Year Club Awards:
- Beach Barons
- Mo-Taters
- Pacific NW Region Porsche Club
- Pushrods of Hoquiam, Rakers

2010 Club of the Year:
- Seattle Rod-Tiques

Inducted Members:
- Don Amundson
- Larry Berkovich
- Jon Byers
- Russ Divers
- Mike Mooney
- Henry Nelson

$7,000 was raised  for the favorite charity of the group, The Burned Children Recovery Foundation, and an announcement was made about the reforming of the Northwest Car Club Council. The Council was originally formed about 50 years ago to help legitimize the car clubs of the era and the stated mission today is to advocate the hobby to the many young people who will become the future of the hobby.

MC Lance Lambert did an outstanding job of both keeping the event going, and having some fun along the way! 

Apr. 8, 2010 at 3:22pmWhere Are They Now? eBay Cars Get a Second Wind

The cars live again!  Vehicles that have been released for sale by the Collection committee have been going to good homes and we are receiving regular updates from many of the new owners with regard to their restoration efforts of vehicles purchased from the museum.

Recently, for example, the collection committee released for sale a 1956 Studebaker Goldenhawk which had turned out to actually be made from parts of two Goldenhawk years, 1956 and 1957. The front end, frame and interior was the 1956, the rear fins, trunk lid, doors, dash and engine was from a 1957. 

This car turned out to be quite controversial among Studebaker purists, but new owners felt the car had merit. The car was purchased by Jim and Stephanie Bell from Bellingham, Washington for the Bell Studebaker Museum. The Bells have started a museum full of rare or unusual Studes, currently housing 75 Studebakers, going as far back to the days when Studebaker was a premier maker of wagons.  The Bells were thrilled to be able to add this car to their stable. Jim has all the parts to get the car running again, which will include re-fitting the engine with the missing supercharger, putting back the stock transmission, and some of the missing trim, finishing the interior, and driving it every day he can!

Jim and Stephanie spoke fondly of Harold LeMay and mentioned two cars Harold had acquired from them in the past, and are thrilled to add this specialty custom to their collection.

Our selling account on eBay lists donated parts, car donations as well as cars released by the Board of Director's Collection Committee.  To find our listings, go here.  Those with eBay accounts can save us as a “favorite seller” to receive email notifications of new listings directly from eBay.


Mar. 30, 2010 at 1:50pmPlaying in the rain . . .

I had the pleasure last weekend of being one of three winning drivers in the wettest race I have probably ever competed in . . . and I grew up racing in Seattle!

The event was the International Conference of Sports Car Clubs (ICSCC) 6-Hour Enduro, which is the traditional season-opener at Pacific Raceways in Kent.  The team was Lowe Group/Frost Engineering and we were driving the same Bridgestone-sponsored BMW M3/GTR that we raced in the 7th Annual NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill last December.  My co-drivers, Jim Gallaugher and Jerold Lowe, did a great job of taking an early lead and holding it, despite spirited challenges from some clearly fast competitors. Jerold handed me a car in the lead when the rains came -- and boy did they come!

It was really a matter of trying my best to see out of a very wet and dirty windscreen and maintain a pace to keep us in the lead.  I had a blast, and the soaked and tired team received a well-deserved victory. 

Next stop . . . Pikes Peak

Mar. 14, 2010 at 5:12pmOur Marquis Diamond

In 2009, I received a call from Mrs. Lorna Burt, wishing to donate her beloved 1983 Mercury Marquis station wagon to the Museum.

Mrs. Burt was downsizing her home, and the family car was an item that she reluctantly realized she needed to give up. She inquired if her Marquis might be welcomed at LeMay-America’s Car Museum's Collection. Following our review of the donation, we knew the vehicle would be a great addition.

The Burt family purchased the car in April of 1983 from Bill Gill Lincoln Mercury dealership in Tacoma. It was delivered equipped with every luxury option available on the Marquis at the time. It was obvious upon the first viewing that this Mercury Marquis only had one owner and it was almost like a member of the family. This Mercury had been meticulously maintained as well as garaged all of its life. The original faux wood grain siding looks new, the paint is original and all of the bright work is polished and beautifully shiny.

Mrs. Burt is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. A former elementary school teacher, she is the proud mother of three children. Both Mr. and Mrs. Burt were avid golfers, and enjoyed traveling around the country in the Marquis. The Burts revealed that their golf clubs fit perfectly in the back whenever they went to tournaments; it was one of the favorite things that they loved about the car. The cargo area also features bench seats which fold up and out, allowing additional passengers to ride along if desired. The tailgate is also an interesting mechanical innovation for the day, a two-stage operation that opens horizontally like a car door, as well as offering a traditional fold down, tail-gate style opening.

Following a tour in the armed forces and his subsequent graduation from medical school, Dr. Robert Burt set up a general surgery practice within the city of Tacoma. On days off, Dr. Burt enjoyed taking his grandchildren out for rides in the Mercury Wagon. All of the Burt grandchildren remember that, when they would ask grandpa where they were going, he would always reply "Oh, let's just see where the car will take us".

The kids unanimously agree that grandpa's car almost always found its way to the local ice cream parlor.

Mar. 12, 2010 at 5:05pmAdopt-a . . . Bus?

The sights and sounds of a foreign country - even a familiar one - often jog our senses and transport us to another time. Coming from a land of SUV's and bland sedans that all seem to look alike, I'm always thrilled to see the kinds of vehicles embraced by our cousins "over the pond". What I love the most is seeing those wacky London taxis and the wild and wonderful Bristol double-decker buses - it's like seeing some long-extinct pterodactyl flying past!

Apparently, Harold LeMay must have felt the same way. Over the years, he managed to find and buy not one, not two, but three of the darn things. One of these fascinating machines was donated to America's Car Museum by the LeMay family and we are very proud to have it. So proud, in fact, that we elected to include it in our pool of vehicles for our Adopt-an-Auto program. The list includes all levels of vehicles we want to restore and allows people to donate the badly-needed funds to help us get them Museum-ready.

We added this great example of UK ingenuity to our list and within days, John Lyons, one of our newest Steering Committee members, scooped it up. John knew full well that he will be the proud "parent" of this bus for 5 years and will get to come to the Museum when it's done for a fun family photo shoot. In the meantime, we will display the Bristol at our new place in Fife - and allow the millions of people a year who drive past us on I-5 a short glimpse into the past and into the fun world of British transportation.

Cup of tea, anyone?