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.
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.
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.
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.