The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum and its next-door neighbor, the National Auto & Truck Museum, are not merging, but they are cooperating in a visitor-oriented effort being termed “The Auburn Automobile Experience.”
Armed with a grant from The James Foundation of Auburn, the neighboring museums launched a 6-person committee and asked the highly recommended Lord Cultural Resources from Canada to do a study last year to determine how the museums could work together for their mutual benefit.
“We have this incredible story to tell, and we have to tell it together,”
Brandon Anderson, ACD Museum executive director, told KPC Media Group and its local newspaper, The Star.
One result is a $20 “campus ticket” that provides access to both museums for two days.
“They’re not rushed to go through both buildings at a quicker pace, because the pass is good for two days,” noted Dave Yarde, executive director of NATMUS. “It’s going really well.”
Housed in the historic car company headquarters, the ACD Museum is a showplace not only of Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg classics, but of several diverse automotive exhibits. NATMUS, as the National Auto & Truck collection is nicknamed, is located just behind the ACD in the former
Auburn assembly, parts and service building.
By sharing a common ticket, “We literally have something for everybody,” Yarde added.
“We have two incredible resources right here, on the same property, that are part of the same National Historic Landmarks listing,” added Anderson, noting “a very dynamic story that is history, engineering, innovation, design, technology, based around the automobile.”
The campus ticket is only the beginning of the cooperative effort. The museums will share marketing efforts, do joint purchasing of supplies, will create an interpretative trail through both museums to tell the full Auburn story, and are considering joint “behind-the-scenes” tours.
While maintaining their separate organizations, the museums also may do a joint membership program.
“What is paramount is the visitor experience,” Anderson said.
With that in mind, Yarde said, NATMUS is working to create a replica 1930s Auburn dealership as part of its display.
ACD Museum gets first Duesenberg passenger car
The new joint promotional effort with its neighbor isn’t the only news being made by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in northeast Indiana. The museum also has received the first Duesenberg passenger car sold to the public from a family that owned the vehicle for 100 years.
The year 2020 marks the centennial of the Duesenberg Automobile and Motor Company, and CyrAnn and James C. Castle Jr. have gifted the 1921 Duesenberg Model A coupe to the museum.
The car was specially built to order for Samuel Northrup Castle, who stood 7-foot tall and thus required a vehicle with some special features. Castle was the descendent of missionaries to Hawaii and was the founder of Castle & Cooke, a Hawaiian sugar cooperative. His car was the first Duesenberg Model A built for sale.
Castle lived until 1959, when the car was shipped to San Francisco after being inherited by his nephew, James Christian Castle. James Christian died in 1994 and the car went to his son, James Jr.
“This gift to the museum is one of the most significant donations to the collection in the 45-year history of the museum,” said museum director Brandon Anderson. “The Castles’ generosity will allow for future generations to appreciate the history of Duesenberg, automotive design and engineering, the evolution of the automobile, and the legacy of the Castle family in perpetuity.”
The museum notes that the Model A was the first American passenger vehicles equipped with four-wheel hydraulic brakes and an overhead-cam straight-8 engine.
“That the Castle Family chose the ACD Museum to preserve and display their Duesenberg is a message to all owners of significant classic cars,” Duesenberg expert Eric Killorin was quoted in the museum’s announcement. “Museums can provide an enduring succession plan that respects the donating party’s passion and devotion to their cherished family vehicle.”
The car will be displayed February 9 at the Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance in Florida as part of a Duesenberg centennial grouping and then will go on permanent display at the museum.
Single ticket works for Ferrari museums
The ACD and NATMUS have to hope that their joint ticket promotion works as well in Indiana as it did in Italy, where the Ferrari museums reported more than 600,000 visitors in 2019, a 12 percent increase over the previous year. The Ferrari Museum in Maranello drew more than 400,000 visitors while the Museum Enzo Ferrari in Modena topped the 200,000 mark.
One cause for the jump in attendance was the museums offering a one ticket/two museums option. Sales of those tickets increased by more than 50 percent in 2019. It costs about $19 to enter either museum but for $27, you could visit both.
By the way, the Maranello museum opened its new exhibit, “Ferrari at 24 Heures du Mans,” on January 15 to celebrate 70 years of success in the famed 24-hour event in France.
Dale Jr. display opens at NASCAR Hall of Fame
Every three years, the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, changes its “Glory Road” display of cars. The most recent revision opened January 15 and features 18 vehicles personally selected by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Everyone knows how much I enjoy learning about the history of our sport and sharing that history with people,” Earnhardt Jr. said at the exhibition’s opening, “and with this, I’m able to play a small role in what we share with fans who visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“I picked cars for this exhibit for many different reasons. But I definitely wanted to represent a broad history of the sport as a whole, so we could also see the progression of the cars. It’s really cool when they’re all there together and you can see all that’s changed in the technology from where we started to where we are today.”
Cars he selected range from Herb Thomas’ 1951 championship Hudson Hornet to Jimmie Johnson’s 2016-winning Chevrolet and include cars driven by Dale Jr.’s late father.
Special events this weekend
Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida, stages its monthly car show on January 18 from 9 until 11 a.m.
On January 18, from noon until 4 p.m., the LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, plans a family pinewood derby car racing program as part of its Steam Day exploring science and math.
Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California, hosts authors Joseph Lesser and Marc Wanmaker from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on January 18 and their book Hollywood’s Trains & Trolleys.
Racer Harry Sherrard opens the spring lecture series January 18 at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England, with “The Goodwood Story,” sharing the history of the creation of the Goodwood racing circuit and its resurrection and events such as the Festival of Speed.
Cole collector and historian Kevin Fleck will present “Cole Motor Company — The Standardized Car” as part of the Winter Lecture Series at 3 p.m. on January 12 at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan.
The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in northeast Indiana hosts its annual “Duesy of a Day” bridal show January 19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, offers free admission on January 20.
The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, offers a hands-on family oriented “Build a Recycled Vehicle” program from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on January 20.
Mark your calendar
The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia features British cars — a 1927 Bentley 3-Liter Speed, 1934 MG K3 Magnette and 1953 Jaguar C-type — at its England at Le Mans Demo Day from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on January 25.
The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will host Bruce Meyer’s All-American Cruise-In celebrating Carroll Shelby and the Ford v Ferrari movie at 8 a.m. on January 26. The car show will be followed by an all-star Shelby panel presentation at 10 a.m.
January 26 will be a Family Sunday at the BMW Museum in Germany, where from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. the museum becomes a MakerSpace with families learning about 3D printing and with children 8-and-older printing 3D pens.
“The Miracle Story of Charles W. Nash” will be presented by James Wheary, Nash’s great-grandson, at 2 p.m. on February 9 at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento opens its new exhibition, “Reel Cars: The Importance of Cars in Filmmaking,” on February 14.
The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, hosts its annual Pint with the Past fund-raising gala on February 15 from 7 to 10 p.m.
The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in northeast Indiana hosts its annual Bootlegger’s Ball on February 15 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, California, plans at Grand Re-opening Party for February 22 to celebrate its new location.
Tacoma, Washington, museums including LeMay – America’s Car Museum, plan a special K-12 educator workshop exploring science, technology, engineering, art and math on February 29.
“Drive the Blues Away” with a “Viva Las Vegas” night March 13 from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. at the LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington.
The Mustang Owner’s Museum near Charlotte, North Carolina, is making plans for National Mustang Day with several days of activities, including a test and tune on April 16, at Mooresville Dragway; a driver’s choice cruise to various NASCAR race shops or to a winery, distillery and brewery before the Mustang Hall of Fame induction on April 17; a “day at the museum” program on April 18; and a cruise to Mustang specialist Innovative Performance Technologies on April 19.
The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, re-opens its Performance Gallery on April 22. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.