Famed artist Dale Chihuly donates three cars to LeMay-America’s Car Museum

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Artist Dale Chihuly, known best for his incredible glassblowing skills, recently donated three classic cars to LeMays-America's Car Museum. | Dale Chihuly photo
Artist Dale Chihuly, known best for his incredible glassblowing skills, recently donated three classic cars to LeMays-America's Car Museum. | Dale Chihuly photo

Founded around the glass sculpture of Tacoma-native Dale Chihuly, the museum presents exhibits and live demonstrations by glassblowing artists from around the world.

Now, Chihuly has made another contribution to the area’s culture with the donation of three of the artist’s personal cars to the LeMay-America’s Car Museum collection.

A 1972 Citroën DS 21 Super 5 Pallais is an iconic example of French design, featuring comfort innovations such as an automatic leveling suspension system that afforded the passengers an exceptionally smooth ride even on very rough roads. First introduced in 1965, the DS Pallais (after the Greek goddess Pallas) was a unique trim level that included extra sound insulation, exterior trim and interior passenger luxury features to complement its 2175cc 4-cylinder engine and manual 5-speed transmission.

Named after a goddess, this Citroën still looks lovely. | William Hall photo
Named after a goddess, this Citroën still looks lovely. | William Hall photo

Also from the Chihuly collection is a 1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner, which features a retractable hardtop that makes the innovative convertible as mechanically interesting as it is stylish. The elaborate system of switches, hinges and electric motors concealed the roof in the car’s trunk, and its sweeping lines ushered in an era of Jet Age design into the American automotive industry.

Powered by the 300 horsepower, 352 V8 engine, the Skyliner was a top-down turnpike cruiser for a new era. | William Hall photo
Powered by the 300 horsepower, 352 V8 engine, the Skyliner was a top-down turnpike cruiser for a new era. | William Hall photo

Lastly, a 1967 Volkswagen Type 2 double-door Camper is a desirable last year split-windshield model, but features the first-year upgraded 12-volt electrical system. 

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Correctly restored and fitted with a factory roof rack, the Microbus remains as evocative a symbol today as it was during the counterculture of the late 1960s. | William Hall photo
Correctly restored and fitted with a factory roof rack, the Microbus remains as evocative a symbol today as it was during the counterculture of the late 1960s. | William Hall photo

The consummate collector, Chihuly finds extraordinary artistic beauty in everyday objects. Throughout the years he has collected old cameras and radios, Native American baskets and trade blankets, accordions, vintage Christmas tree ornaments, antique shaving brushes, bottle openers, pocket knives — and of course — great automobiles.

Dale and Leslie Chihuly will serve as honorary chairs at the LeMay’s annual Wheels & Heels Gala on September 8. Dubbed Chrome and Glass, the ’70s-themed dinner event is open to both museum members and the public, and will feature a live auction, fireworks and a Montecristo cigar lounge.

Held in the gallery of the museum’s striking exhibit hall, partygoers will be surrounded by seventeen rare and historically significant BMW motorsports vehicles as they dine and dance alongside fellow collector car enthusiasts.

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William Hall is a writer, classic car broker and collector based in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. He has spent the whole of his professional career in the automotive industry, starting as an auto-parts delivery driver at the age of 16 to working for some of the nation's premier restoration shops. He is a concours judge and a consultant to LeMay-America's Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington.

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