HomeThe MarketMullin museum celebrates Belle Epoque cars and carriages

Mullin museum celebrates Belle Epoque cars and carriages


1922 Hispano-Suiza by Labourdette | Mullin museum photos
1922 Hispano-Suiza by Labourdette | Mullin museum photos

The Mullin Automotive Museum opens its next exhibit, Cars and Carriages, a showcase of Belle Epoque-era French vehicles spanning the transition from horse-drawn to early automobiles, on April 9 at the Oxnard, California, museum.

“We are excited to offer our guests the opportunity to see these wonderful hand-built pieces of rolling sculpture in person,” museum founder and Pebble Beach best of show-winning car owner Peter Mullin said in a news release. “The Belle Époque was a period of Western European history that lasted from the 1870s until the outbreak of World War I, and it translates to ‘Beautiful Era.’ It was characterized by technological, scientific and cultural innovations in France, and the arts and sciences flourished.

Horse-drawn carriage by Kellner
Horse-drawn carriage by Kellner

“This unique period saw the final – and many say most beautiful – examples of horse-drawn transportation and the rise of the brass car era. These vehicles are really sculptural art, and we are proud to exhibit some of the jewels of that wonderful era.”

The exhibit includes eight horse-drawn carriages and nine automobiles, as well as other period artifacts.

Among the hand-built horse-drawn carriages are those by L’Renault, Kellner and Labourdette as well as one by Ettore Bugatti that was hidden away during World War II and remained in the Bugatti family’s possession until the early 1980s.

Automobiles representing the era in the exhibit include those by Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Renault, Panhard and Levassor and Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq, as well as the 1913 Peugeot BP 1 Bébé, originally designed by Ettore Bugatti for Wanderer of Germany and built by Peugeot under license for the French market. The Bebe was the first Peugeot to sell more than 3,000 units, the museum notes in its news release.

Horse-drawn carriage by Renault
Horse-drawn carriage by Renault

Also included in the display is the wood-skinned 1922 Hispano-Suiza Type H6B Skiff Torpédo by Henri Labourdette.

The exhibition also includes other artifacts from the era, among them Louis Vuitton luggage, tools, leather driving apparel, catalogs and literature.

The Mullin Automotive Museum is open the second and fourth Saturday’s of each month from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., though tickets must be purchased in advance at the museum’s website. Tours also are offered Tuesdays at 10 a.m. by reservation.

1910 Renault Laundaulet
1910 Renault Laundaulet

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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