HomeCar CultureCommentaryCemented in history: Entombed 1954 Corvette joins museum’s collection

Cemented in history: Entombed 1954 Corvette joins museum’s collection


‘Entombed’ no longer, the Corvette joins museum display | National Corvette Museum photo

In 1954, Richard Sampson, a successful business owner in Brunswick, Maine, bought a new Chevrolet Corvette.

“After driving it for four years, he wanted to park it somewhere safe,” reports the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

“Sampson was constructing new stores for his grocery chain and decided one of them would be the perfect structure to keep his car secure. A tomb was built inside the store – literally around his Corvette. 

“Sampson specified in his will that the car was not to be taken out of the man-made ‘time-capsule’ until the year 2000. Although Sampson changed his wishes before he passed away in 1969, the car remained entombed for 27 years.”

It was in 1986 that the new owner of the building freed the Corvette and released it to Sampson’s daughter, Cynthia, who parked the car in her living room in Daytona Beach, Florida, for the next decade. 

Since then, the car has changed ownership a few times but has been driven only 2,344 miles. It recently was donated to the Corvette museum’s collection to preserve both the car and its story.

‘Sculpture in Motion’ with Donald Osborne

1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster | Ann Norton Sculpture Garden photo

The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach, Florida, hosts its third annual “Sculpture in Motion — The Art of Pre- and Post-War Automobiles” from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on November 16. 

Nearly 20 vehicles will be featured, including a 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Figoni cabriolet, 1934 Chrysler Airflow CV-8, 1929 Duesenberg Model J LeBaron dual-cowl phaeton and 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster.

“Any true review of 20th century design and the effect of World War II on automotive design must include a close look at this dynamic and fascinating period of creative exchange between automobile -loving nations,” event grand marshal Donald Osborne was quoted in the news release.

“Automobiles designed and built in the decade and a half spanning the end of World War II through 1960 represented much beyond mere function. They served as the tangible expressions of progress, personal freedom, style and prestige for both the manufacturer and the consumer who drove them.”

‘White Gloves’ night at BMW Museum

‘White Glove’ night allows museum visitors to touch cars on display | BMW Museum photo

November 22 is the “Night of the White Gloves” at the BMW Museum in Germany, where, beginning at 7 p.m., visitors have a once-a-year opportunity to “get up close and personal” with the museum’s collection.

Visitors for the special event will be issued a pair of white gloves and will be permitted to touch the vehicles on an evening that this year celebrates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the BMW Isetta “Liberty” vehicle.

December 1 is Museum Store Sunday

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in northeastern Indiana and the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee are among the facilities across four continents participating in Museum Store Sunday on December 1 “offering quality gifts filled with inspiration and educational value to consumers, with all purchases supporting its parent institution,” the museum said.

Museum store manager Teresa Sutton promises “a unique shopping experience with special promotions,” as part of the ACD’s participation in Museum Store Sunday’s third annual event.

To find a participating museum in your area, visit the Museum Store Sunday website.

Lane collects toys, prepares to publish

Peugeots on display at the Lane museum | Museum photo

Through December 9, the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, will offer free admission in exchange for an unwrapped toy worth $10 or more for its Toys for Tots program this holiday season. 

The museum also has announced that it will publish the first in a series of books about its car collection in the spring of 2020.

“With a foreword by noted collector and all-around car guy Jay Leno, text by acclaimed automotive writer Ken Gross, and photos by award-winning photographers Peter Harholdt and Bruce Sweetman, we hope this will satisfy our visitor’s longstanding and outspoken desire for ‘more’ about the collection,” the museum said.

The first volume will feature 50 vehicles from the museum’s collection of more than 500 vehicles.

Currently featured in special exhibits at the museum are “Compact Commuters: Folding Scooters from the 1590s to Today,” “A Century of Citroen: 1919-2019,” and “Then & Now” a showcase of French cars.

Special events this weekend

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will show Beyond Driven: The Story of Lella Lombardi and the Women of Formula Racing at 6:30 p.m. November 15.

Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida, stages its monthly car show in conjunction with a National Street Rod Association appreciation day from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. November 16.

The Mustang Owner’s Museum in North Carolina will offer a special 24 Hours of Le Mans exhibit November 15-16 featuring a Ford GT40, a Ford GT and the Comstock Racing Mustang that competed in France in 1966. The museum will screen the new Ford v Ferrari movie at 7 p.m. on November 15 and the program on November 16 will include several speakers, including Lee Holman at 2 p.m.

The LeMay Collections at Marymount in Tacoma, Washington, stages its annual benefit dinner and sock hop dance from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on November 16.

LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, opens its exhibit, “Saleen: A Journey from the Heard of a Racer to America’s Supercar” on November 16 with a “Saleen & Caffeine: Coffee & Donuts” event featuring Steve Saleen from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. The museum also will exhibit 17 vehicles as part of its tribute exhibit.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento will offer a screening of Ford v Ferrari at 11 a.m. on November 17.

Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California, hosts Randy Grubb and his book, From Mind to Metal, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on November 16. Grubb built Jay Leno’s tank car among other gleaming machines.

Rescheduled several times, the Racing History Project’s presentation on “The San Fernando Drags” and “The Devil’s Hairpin” now is planned for November 17 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Valley Relics Museum in Van Nuys, California.

Mark your calendar

A special exhibit, “From the Vault,” opens November 20 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum featuring “treasured vehicles and artifacts” moved to the display area from the museum’s storage vault.

Curt Fields will portray President U.S. Grant in a presentation at 1:30 p.m. on November 20 at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana. As part of the visit, the President Grant Studebaker carriage will be on display in the museum’s main floor gallery.

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles opens “Building an Electric Future,” a special exhibition in conjunction with Volkswagen, on November 20. 

On November 21, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum will stage tours of Andretti Autosport’s nearby race shop. The morning tour is sold out but spots remain for the afternoon visit. For information, visit the museum’s website.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will stage a new-exhibits preview party on November 22 in anticipation of several exhibit openings — Age of Aquarius: Cars of the Counter Culture & Beyond, the DeSoto Display, and Cars & Christmas. The museum also offers a Polar Express pajama party on December 7 and Breakfast with Santa on December 14.

A special exhibition, “Cars: Accelerating The Modern World,” opens November 23 at the Victoria and Albert museum in England. The exhibition runs to April 19, 2020.

The Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee hosts its eighth annual Black Friday Beerfest on November 23.

Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California, hosts Jason Torchinsky and his book, Robot, Take the Wheel: The Road to Autonomous Cars and the Lost Art of Driving, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on November 23.

The BMW Museum in Germany welcomes Olympic champions Laura Dahlmeier and fellow biathlete Fritz Fischer for a special Family Sunday Biathlon event on November 24.

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, will offer free vault tours on November 29. Also on the day after Thanksgiving, museum director Jeff Lane and curator Robert Jones will do vehicle demonstrations at various times throughout the day.

From November 29 through January 1, the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, turns its NCM Motorsports Park into a 2-mile Christmas Lights Show featuring 25 scenes, more than 350 displays and more than 1 million holiday lights.

The King of the Heap racing series resumes December 7 and continues for the first Saturday of January, February and March, 2020, at the National Corvette Museum’s NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The events are open to cars work $1,000 or less, each with a team of drivers participating in Auto-X, Auto-X relay and track events. For information, visit the King of the Heap website.

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia will honor Emerson Fittipaldi with its 12th annual Spirit of Competition award to be presented December 2.

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles opens a special exhibit, “Chip Ganassi Racing: Fast Tracks to Success / 30th Anniversary Tribute” on December 14. Running through April 15, 2020, the exhibit will include 10 vehicles, trophies and other items. 

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will host “Mustang Jim” Aberts for a presentation, “Ford: The Motor Company & The Family,” from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on December 7.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, reopens its Performance Gallery on April 22, 2020. The gallery closed on November 20 for “a much-needed refresh.” 

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email [email protected].

Larry Edsall
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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