Poster art: Ken Eberts
Boca Raton, Florida,
February 8 - 9, 2020
Poster art: Jay Koka
Cobble Beach Classics, Toronto
February 14 - 23, 2020
Porsche fans made the pilgrimage to LA for the LA Porsche Literature Show, the 356 Swap meet, and visits to SoCal Porsche shops the weekend of March 1st. Watch the video (Photo: Rob Alen)
A Museum on the US west coast devoted to French art deco cars
By Wallace Wyss When I first heard there was going to be a museum in Oxnard celebrating French cars, I thought “why only French?” but, after briefly touring it, I can say “Why not?” because there’s enough entertaining (and educational) there to make a visit well worth while. The Museum is the concept of Peter Mullin, a premier car collector who just happens to have fallen in love with cars of the French “streamline moderne” era around 1935 to 1939.
The Museum calls its continuing show "L’époque des Carrossiers" which well depicts the marriage of automobiles and Art Deco. Art Deco might be described as an industrial design movement where smoothness of form and celebration of materials was paramount. It even affected such mundane items as vacuum cleaners and tableware but spread to cars where each coachbuilder would endeavor to make their most expensive cars more aerodynamic than the competition. And it is the French that got the "concours d’elegances" going as a way for buyers of these bespoke cars to show them off, more or less like the Paris Fashion Shows of today, to say “This is the latest.”
Because Peter Mullin likes all things art deco, there is also furniture on display, some of it designed by members of the Bugatti family, who were fine artists while Ettore Bugatti built the cars. The museum reflects Peter Mullin’s belief that the the Art Deco movement is worth remembering because it marks the merging of art and science in the late 1920s. Before art had its influence, there were mechanical objects but when art came along there was an effort to marry imaginative design to mechanical machines. Curator Brittanie Kinch says it all began with a very important show, entitled the 1925 Arts Decoratifs exhibit in Paris. She has been quoted saying the 1925 show is what they are trying to bring cultural context to, and I say they succeed.
Among the dozens of cars in the two story display are some standouts...
-1937 Talbot-Lago T150 C-SS “Teardrop” coupe by Figoni and Falaschi. This silver 1937 Talbot-Lago T150 C-SS “Teardrop” by Figoni and Falaschi went on a fast sports car chassis.
-1939 Delahaye Type 165 Cabriolet. Open cars are more difficult to make aerodynamic than coupes but this one is very aero for an open car because you can lower the windshield into the body. Ironically this car was found in America because it had been shipped for display at 1939 New York World’s Fair without an engine, and then impounded after the show when WWII started.
-1936 Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic Arguably one of the most beautiful automotive designs in history, the Bugatti Atlantic was the production version of Jean Bugatti’s (the son of Ettore) Aérolithe Coupe first shown at the 1935 Paris Auto Salon.
"Why does it have a riveted spine?” The lightweight body material — magnesium — is difficult to weld since magnesium is a material that catches fire! So they made the body in two halves and riveted them together along a central spine.
-1938 Dubonnet Hispano-Suiza H6B ‘Xenia’ This car has such a postwar roofline it’s difficult to believe it is prewar. And like many a famous car it was built for a strong minded person, in this case Andre Dubonnet, a Renaissance man who was part of the Dubonnet that made aperitifs. He might have been influenced in modern features because he was a pilot that had a string of aerial victories in the World War I’s “Stork” squadron. He was a clever man, smart enough to patent a four-wheel independent “hyperflex” suspension system that automakers making regular production cars, like Alfa Romeo, Fiat, GM, etc. could use.
-1945 Voisin Type C27 Aérosport Coupe Sometimes you find a car with the wrong body on it, a later one, but when Mullin found this car he knew only two had been built so he had it rebodied to its original configuration. The Museum has at least two bodies that are partially built, one showing the way coachbuilt bodies were done—a wooden subskelton built to hold the body panels while they were being shaped, which are then removed when the panels were welded in place. One of them has been displayed at the Art Center College of Design a famous school for car designers and probably was the first time design student saw how prewar grand touring cars were designed.
The Museum is not open all the time with shorter hours than most. It is 1-2 hours from Los Angeles so check open days in advance.
Address: 1421 Emerson Ave, Oxnard, CA 93033 USA
Learn More: www.mullinautomotivemuseum.com
Detours continues... »