Like Elvis, the Mercedes has left the building

Our weekly roundup of car museum news and notes

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1904 Mercedes Simplex
A 40-ton crane that was built in when the Mercedes-Benz Museum was constructed lowers the 1904 Mercedes Simples 60 to ground level for its trip to take part in special S-Class launch events through the rest of 2020 | Mercedes-Benz Museum photos

Like Elvis, the 1904 Mercedes Simplex 60 has left the building, and while the King of rock ’n’ roll had put on some weight, he didn’t quite need a 40-ton crane for his escape. But that was what was used to get the historic car out of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany.

With the car needed for a special event launching the next-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Simplex, the oldest original car in the museum’s permanent collection, had to descend from seven stories from its place of honor in the museum’s tall atrium. 

While the removal was accomplished in 5 minutes, the process consumed hours of planning by museum staff and logistic company Scholpp.

A mini-crane moves the Simplex from its top-floor display (above and below)

The Simplex weighs more than 2.2 tons and had to be lifted by a mobile mini-crane — being used for the first time — from four steel display points without straining its sloping exhibit base. Once freed, the car had to be moved — white gloves mandated for the moving crew — and then lowered. 

Fortunately, when the museum was built, a 40-ton crane was incorporated in the design.

On the 40-ton crane and headed to ground level

The Simplex was produced by the former Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and originally was owned by Emil Jellinek, who lent his daughter’s name to the Mercedes brand. It will be part of a special S-Class historical display at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center near Stuttgart before returning to the museum at the end of the year, when the process will be reversed as the car returns to its display place of honor.

Out the door…
… and into the truck

‘Mini’ exhibit at Indy museum

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum has opened what it’s calling a “mini exhibit” honoring the 50th anniversary of Al Unser Sr.’s 1970 Indy 500 victory in the Johnny Lightning Special and the 40th anniversary of John Rutherford’s victory in the Pennzoil Chaparral.

The “mini” showcase runs through November 30.

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Indy ‘zoom cast’ features Davidson, Jenkins

On September 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Eastern), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum will offer a special “Zoom Cast” featuring track historian Donald Davidson and motorsports announcer Bob Jenkins, who will share stories from the Brickyard.

To register for the online event, visit the museum’s webinar page.

LaDuke art exhibition opens in Santa Fe

The Meyer Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, isn’t a car museum, but from September 25 through October 1, it will provide a showcase for the retro auto- and travel-themed art by Robert LaDuke. “The Nearing Path” is the title of the exhibition, which opens September 25 with an artist reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“Robert LaDuke’s narrative style paintings are idyllic reflections of American culture,” the gallery notes. “Imagery associated with westward travel is reminiscent of earlier eras, focused around vintage vehicles and architecture from the 1930s to the 1950s. 

“Largely devoid of actual figures, LaDuke’s central subject matter includes cars, campers, planes or trains, set against iconic natural landmarks or roadside industry.”

Personal note: I’m a huge fan of LaDuke’s style, and look forward to what’s coming next. As he told the gallery, “I did a bit of traveling last year. I took my first trip to Monument Valley and Shiprock, which I had been painting for many years but never actually saw in person. 

“I also took a trip to the Northern California coastal town of Mendocino, a preserved Victorian seaside village. It felt like the New England seaside towns that I remember visiting as a child. Bits and pieces of the architecture are incorporated here and there in the new paintings.”

Petersen adds to auction consignments

The docket for the Petersen Automotive Museum’s virtual gala, scheduled for September 26, has expanded with Superformance donating a Shelby Cobra Mk II slab-side continuation car that will go up for bidding to support the museum foundation.

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Special events this weekend

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon presents a non-automotive showcase, “Voices of the West End,” a musical presentation featuring selections from acclaimed West End theater performances, on the museum grounds September 25-27. 

The Porsche Typ356 Northeast Club will stage a car show September 27 at the Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island.

Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida, holds its monthly auto flea market September 27 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Fresh off its recent and inaugural museum picnic and driving tour, the Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, announced the Durham Region Rally is scheduled for September 27. For details, see the museum website.

LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, re-opens September 25. After being closed during the coronavirus pandemic, the museum will re-open on a Friday-Saturday-Sunday basis for the time being. As part of the re-opening, owners of vintage or exotic cars are invited to park on the Anderson Plaza in front of the museum on opening weekend.

Mark your calendar

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum will be closed October 1-4 during the Harvest Grand Prix weekend at the track. The museum re-opens October 5 with a “refresh” of its “From the Vault” exhibit, with vehicles that have been on display returning to storage but with others emerging from the vault.

The Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, hosts a “Cruise to Innovation Performance Technologies” event beginning at 10 a.m. October 3.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento remains closed, but will take part in the Cap City Motor Tour, a driving tour that will take the place of the annual CruiseFest during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine will stage its final Cars and Coffee event of 2020 on October 10. The museum closes for the season on October 31.

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Although “Fall Hershey” has been smacked by the coronavirus pandemic, the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will stage a socially distanced, one-day car show on October 10. 

The Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, will be the site of a “Fall Ford Garage Sale” starting at 10 a.m. on October 10.

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon stages its first (and free) “Gaydon Gathering” car show of the season on October 13. 

On October 17, the Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, stages “Mustang Hold’em and National Bullitt Day” with a “poker run” rally with Ford or Mustang-related stops along the route.

Lord Montague prepares one of the ‘Motoring in Miniature’ exhibits | Museum photo

The British National Motor Museum at Beaulieu offers a special exhibition, “Motoring in Miniature — the Toys of Your Childhood,” during England’s “Half-Term” school recess period October 24 to November 1. 

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, hosts its annual “Vets ’n Vettes” event November 12-14.

The Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee opens a new exhibit, “Off-Road Harley-Davidson” on November 21.

“In the decades before America paved its highways, early riders had to be prepared for all sorts of terrain: sand, clay or dirt – and wandering those makeshift byways were Harley-Davidson motorcycles,” the museum notes. “Today, it’s called off-road or adventure touring; back then it was just called riding. 

“Since 1903, Harley-Davidson motorcycles proved their toughness by riding over wooded hills, through stone-choked creek beds and up mountain sides. ‘Off-road Harley-Davidson’ tells the history of motorcycles designed for rough roads, the people who rode them and the adventures they shared.”

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email larrye@classiccars.com

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