TACOMA, Wash. (Aug. 22, 2011) – Lots happened in 1927: Babe Ruth hit 60 homers, “Silent” Calvin Coolidge was quietly running the White House and prohibition was in full swing. Also, a verbose 1927 LaSalle 303 Roadster, conceived by flamboyant GM Design Chief Harley Earle, strolled off the assembly line. More aggressive and stylish than its cousin, the Cadillac, the LaSalle helped launch modern American automotive styling. Some 84 years later, the same LaSalle is in the news again, having been named “guest of honor” at the LeMay– America’s Car Museum (ACM) “Hard Hat & High Heels” preview party, Sept. 24 at the museum’s four-level, 165,000-sq.-ft., facility in Tacoma, Wash.
In this exclusive interview conducted by Scot Keller, ACM chief marketing & communications officer, the LaSalle talks about the museum – which is set to open in June 2012 – a recent trip to Italy to participate in the Mille Miglia (a vintage 1,000-mile road rally that winds from Brescia, Italy to Rome and back) and the Hard Hat & High Heels event.
Scot Keller: Congratulations on being named the guest of honor at ACM’s Hard Hat & High Heels. How does it feel?
1927 LaSalle: I am certainly ready for my close-up. You know, reviewers called me a trendsetter back in ’27, and 80-something years later my name still creates loads of nostalgia among car lovers. Heck, GM stopped making us LaSalles in ’41, but since ACM was conceived to showcase America’s love affair with automobiles – spanning more than a century I might add – this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Keller: How have they been treating you at the Museum?
LaSalle: Great – I feel like a rock star…albeit an old rock star. You know, I’m so old… when I was born the Dead Sea was just beginning to get sick… is this microphone on… sorry, bad joke, where was I? Yes, ACM, I feel so alive here. They really do treat us older gentlemen like celebrities. And just look at it, all nine acres. What a super place this is – you can’t beat the view… city, mountains, water… fabulous!
Keller: What are you going to wear to the Hard Hat & High Heels event?
LaSalle: I hear everyone’s going to be decked out in something called ‘construction chic,’ but that’s not for me. There’s some talk they might want to keep me dusty from the Mille Miglia so I have that authentic, ‘just been raced’ look, but I’m thinkin’ of a nice car wash and wax and getting my upholstery done. And I hope they don’t expect a speech. Last time I did that, I got so nervous I started leaking oil.
Keller: Speaking of the Mille Miglia, how was your trip to Italy last May?
LaSalle: I got a little seasick on the boat ride over, but it was worth it. I was glad to get off the boat and stretch my ball bearings. The Mille Miglia, though, was a gas. I got to represent the USA and ACM, and it was fun to run around for 1,000 miles or so with all those magnificent sports cars. I mean there were classic Ferraris, Aston Martins, Mercedes, Jags, Alfas – everything! But I held my own and, actually, stood out in a good way. And you know what? It’s true what they say about Italian cars and the gas is like fine wine. A few sips of that and my tach was spinning.
Keller: Are you excited about the ACM grand opening in June 2012?
LaSalle: You bet! Lots of my old friends will be there, along with a ton of other gorgeous, stylish rides. I mean, I may be so old only dust comes out of my exhaust, but I gotta V8 and my headlights are always on, if you know what I mean. But seriously, everyone’s really gearing up for ACM to open. There’s so much stuff going on here, like all the galleries, exhibits, library, show field, theatre and café. I’m just glad at my age they put me in a cool museum instead of an old folk’s home.
Big or small, fast or slow, every car has a story, and all of us at America’s Car Museum are looking forward to sharing our car stories with our guests.
Tickets for the Hard Hat & High Heels party – the auto museum’s biggest fundraiser event of the year – are on sale now. The Sept. 24 event will include a cocktail reception, dinner, entertainment, live auction and a chance to see some of the exhibits before anyone else. TV’s Rob Weller, former host of Entertainment Tonight, will be the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.
For tickets or more information, visit www.lemaymuseum.org or contact Suzanne Hight at email@example.com.
ABOUT LeMAY – AMERICA’S CAR MUSEUM
LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Wash., explores how the automobile has fulfilled a distinctive role at the core of the American experience and shaped our society. The spacious museum with rotating exhibits is designed to be the centerpiece for automotive history as well as an educational center and library. The nine-acre campus contains a 3.5-acre show field, theatre, café, banquet hall and meeting facilities. To become an ACM member, volunteer or make a donation, visit www.lemaymuseum.org.