Mar. 12, 2012 at 6:30pmA Piece of American History Uncovered

Researching the cars here at ACM often reminds me of genealogy research, where you look at people’s ancestry, birth date, marital status, immigration, residence, military, professional, fame/infamy, and, finally, death records. Similarly, vehicles have very comparable records, a birth date, place they were created, licensing history and, perhaps, histories of being moved from state to state. There are records showing ownership changes and whether the car has been restored. The titles are just like our own birth records and can tell us volumes concerning past ownership.Simplex badge

While researching the records for ACM’s 1917 Crane Simplex Chassis No. 2358, I found a small reference that the car had possibly been owned by the J.D. Rockefeller Family. John D. Rockefeller founded and built the Standard Oil Company empire in the late 19th century, eventually becoming one of the most prominent and wealthiest men in the country, so it was likely this fine luxury automobile built in New York might have been in his stable.

Keep Reading →

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. 16, 2011 at 2:12pmHot Rod Shop Deuce Delivery

1932 Ford Sedan Delivery

Greenfield Deuce our newest addition to the collection generously donated to America's Car Museum by Gerald Greenfield and Family, of Lake Tapps, Washington.

By 1931 sales of the aging Model A were plummeting. Ford knew that they needed a modern design to revitalize the company. Working around the clock they designed and built the first economical V-8. The first of what was to become the "Deuce" models rolled off the line in April of 1932. The Sedan Delivery truck was only produced for the last two months of the year and only 402 were built making it one of the rarest Fords of all time.

This car's story has been featured in the June, 2009 edition of Rod and Custom Magazine, CarTech's America's Coolest Rides Station Wagons, and has won many awards including the 2011 Goodguys Pacific NW Best Commercial entry.

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 →

Aug. 2, 2011 at 2:56pmOldsmobile Down Under

Car collectors are the same world over.

Recently, I was contacted by the son of Mr. Peter Gifford of Dunlop Australia who restored ACM’s 1926 Oldsmobile Holden 4 door touring car in the late 1970’s. After several fun email exchanges between son Michael and Peter’s wife Connie, I received a package in the mail with photographs of the car’s restoration, along with documents, and the Canberra collector license plate which was on the car in many of the photos included with the package.

The following letter from Mr. Gifford was enclosed:

“Six months ago an old friend rang me and said he had seen the car in a museum in America. This of course started my son Michael tracking this information until finally locating it. It is a credit to those people who have owned the Olds since I sold it in 1981 to Darrell Cawthorn in Sydney.

Keep Reading →

Jun. 15, 2011 at 4:01pmStudents with an Eye on Cars

Since LeMay-America’s Car Museum’s collection spans over 100 years of automotive history, we offer unique opportunities to introduce students to various educational activities that are designed to enhance a student's experiences with this important part of our American heritage.  Education has been (and will always be) a key component to the museum's interests.

During the summers of 2010 and 2011, the 'Coffee Cruise-in Open House', events held at our Fife headquarters, allowed members of the Fife High School Key Club to have a chance to participate as judges for something we call the “Favorite Three” pick of the morning. The goal is to expose the students to the sport of car collecting.

Keep Reading →

Apr. 21, 2011 at 11:43amIntroducing: The Avanti #1001 Rescue Project

ACM has launched the "Avanti #1001 Rescue Project" to restore our 1963 Studebaker Avanti (which is #1001/body 101), the first production Avanti in America.  If funds can be generated, the museum will cosmetically restore the car to display condition and complete a full mechanical restoration on the world’s first production Avanti.

Keep Reading →

Apr. 18, 2011 at 2:27pmThe Fabulous Wailer Mobile - In Memory of Ken Morrill

In 2010, Tacoma's homegrown musical heroes, The Fabulous Wailers, generously donated their beloved “Wailer Mobile”,  a 1976 Cadillac 4 door Brougham, to LeMay- America's Car Museum.

Wailer visit

Last month, founding Wailers Kent Morrill and bassist Buck Ormsby dropped by to see the car.

The LeMay Museum is very sad to announce that on Friday, April 15th, 2011, Kent Merrill succumbed to the cancer he had bravely battled for the last four years. Kent was 70 years old. He and his wife Toni had six children together, and were grandparents to twelve grandchildren.

Keep Reading →

Mar. 11, 2011 at 5:27pmCollection Management Volunteer Staff is Shifting into Top Gear

Anticipating the completion and move into the new LeMay-America’s Car Museum building and the exhibits for the Harold E. LeMay Exhibit (including, as well, all other Americas Car Museum Exhibits), the museums vehicles have been going through several levels of conservation and careful display preparation. Cars, trucks and motorcycles will need to be fully assessed, cleaned, dressed and conserved. Much of this work is being accomplished through the generous support of our museum volunteer staff.

Recently, two volunteer staff training classes were conducted on Vehicle Assessment and Vehicle Detailing. Attending the Vehicle Assessment class were twelve volunteers, conducted within the Museums facility at Fife by the Director of Collections, Renee Crist. This class covered processes concerning vehicle authentication, research, and display assessment. Using all of the information gathered in this process, the Collection Management team can better plan for a cars preservation and conservation needs.

Keep Reading →

Feb. 22, 2011 at 3:40pmStrictly Continental

1942 Lincoln The first Continental was a customized Lincoln Zephyr built in 1939, at the request of Ford Motor Company President Edsel Ford.  The car was built to be for his use at his vacation home in Palm Beach Florida. As the story goes, upon returning from a trip to Europe, Edsel went to the Ford Company’s head designer, Bob Gregorie and asked him to build a “strictly continental” car for his personal use.

Keep Reading →

Feb. 4, 2011 at 5:02pmKeeping your Collector Car Safe


HagertysExcerpt from "Protect Your Car" collector car brochure.

Although earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods all bring different hazards, some of the basic precautions are the same.
For starters, it’s a good idea to make sure your garage is in good shape. Is the roof and siding sound, are the windows fully glazed and well caulked, and are the gutters and roof free of debris? While you’re checking, be sure to trim shrubbery or branches and tree limbs that overhang the garage or could brush against the building in a high wind. Not only will your garage and home be safer, it will look better. Also make sure that any outside doors have deadbolts, which not only protect against intruders, but keep high winds or flying objects from knocking them open. As an extra precaution, make sure your house number can be easily seen from the street to ensure that emergency help can find you quickly.

Keep Reading →

Jan. 5, 2011 at 4:45pmCollectors Foundation 2010 Award

Alex McMillanCollectors Foundation 2010 Collections Management Internship Grant Awarded
Alex McMillan
, South Seattle Community College

Keep Reading →

Dec. 10, 2010 at 2:32pm1958 Ford Skyliner Donation

1958 Ford

Recently LeMay-America's Car Museum received a generous donation of a 1958 Ford Skyliner Retractable in restorable condition from Mrs. Barbara Birt. Mrs. Birt informed us that currently the car was not in museum displayable condition but wanted to offer us a car for our vehicle donation program and we could sell the car and the proceeds from the sale would be a donation to the museum.


Keep Reading →

Nov. 16, 2010 at 6:22pm1947 Packard Clipper

Bayley 1947 ClipperThis 1947 Packard Clipper Deluxe Eight sedan is our newest addition to LeMay-America’s Car Museum Collection. The car was donated by Club Auto Member, Christopher Bayley of Seattle. Mr. Bayley states “To me the Dutch Darrin designed Clipper is the most beautiful "modern" Packard. Some of us even think the Silver Cloud I Rolls Royce and comparable Bentley mimicked the look of these cars.”

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. 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. 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.