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Home Events Betty White’s ‘Parakeet’ Cadillac on display at AACA Museum

Betty White’s ‘Parakeet’ Cadillac on display at AACA Museum

Our weekly roundup of car museum news and notes

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Much was made recently of actress Betty White’s 99th birthday. But did you know one of her favorite cars, a 1977 Seamist Green Cadillac Seville she named “Parakeet,” resides at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania?

The car was a gift from her late husband, television game show-host Allen Ludden. To celebrate its former owner’s birthday, the museum staff staged a 99th birthday party around the car.

In an interview in 2010 with The New York Times, the actress said Ludden surprised her with the car, which she kept until 2002 when she donated it to the Los Angeles Humane Society. A subsequent owner, Nicholas Ferrantino, donated the car as well, still in original condition, this time to the museum.

By the way, the actress said she names all her vehicles after birds. She had a yellow Cadillac named “Canary” and in 2010 was driving a silver Cadillac she called “Seagull.”

Parakeet not only came with custom paint but with an AT&T telephone and a “Betty” nameplate.

America On Wheels joins Automotive Trust

America’s Automotive Trust, which already includes the LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, and the RPM Foundation, has announced that the America On Wheels museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania, has become a Trust member and that another Allentown institution, The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage, has become a Trust affiliate.

Among other things, the NB Center houses the car collection of Nicola Bulgari, vice chairman of the Italian retailer Bvlgari. Bulgari has been a Trust board member since 2003.

The announcement noted that the new relationships will give the Trust a presence in the eastern part of the country while helping to transform America On Wheels from a regional to a national institution.

Dyson becomes Indy museum chairman

Auto racer and car collector Rob Dyson, of Millbrook, New York, is the new chairman of the board of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. He replaces Tony George, who held that title for 35 years. Dyson has been on the museum board since 2011.

Dyson, chief executive of a privately owned holding company, first watched the Indy 500 in person in 1962 with his father. Dyson still has tickets to those seats at the speedway. 

Dyson’s car collection includes a 1913 Isotta Fraschini Tipo IM, a 1961 Kimberly Cooper Climax Indy racer, and the 1978 Budweiser McLaren M24B driven by Johnny Rutherford. Behind the wheel, Dyson was 1981 SCCA GT2 national champion and was co-driver in the Dyson Racing Ford-powered Riley & Scott prototype that won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1997.

Hall of Fame ‘track’ gets new cars

Crane carefully lifts cars into place on museum’s banked display track | Museum photo

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Daytona Beach, Florida, showcases historic racing machines on a 40-foot tall, 31-degree banked track display it calls the “Sweep of Speed.” Two new vehicles were recently inserted into that display in a two-day process that used cranes to remove two other cars and replace them with the 1979 Can-Am series winning Lola T333CS driven by Jacky Ickx and the 2008 Indy-winning Dallara-Honda driven by Scott Dixon.

The museum said it was the first major “refresh” of the display since the museum’s opening in 2016. The work was done by Orlando-based Nassal. 

Play Corvette Trivia

Amazon’s Alexa and the National Corvette Museum at Bowling Green, Kentucky, have cooperated to present a Corvette trivia game. If you have an Alexa device, you merely request “Alexa, Play Corvette Trivia,” and she asks you how many players and launches into the trivia questions.

“The (museum’s) tech committee was brainstorming ways to engage with our enthusiasts and we were talking about different games you can do through Amazon, so we looked up what it would take to build some skills,” Chris Huffman, museum IT operations manager, is quoted in the announcement. “One thing led to another and we create the trivia game.”

Questions will be updated from time to time to keep the game fresh, the museum said.

Brumos displays at Daytona race weekend

Brumos Collection Porsche returns to Daytona, where it won the 24 Hours race in 2009 | Museum photo

The Brumos Collection is a car museum in Jacksonville, Florida, but if you visit this weekend, several of the cars won’t be there. Instead, they will be a few miles away, taking laps of honor before the 59th 24 Hours of Daytona. 

“59 For The 59th” is the theme of a special celebration that will put half a dozen of the Brumos Porsche race cars back on the Daytona International Speedway track. Brumos Porsches traditionally wore racing Nos. 58 and 59.

Those cars are the 1971 914-6 GT IMSA champion; the 1975 911 RSR, which will be driven again by Hurley Haywood; the 1979 935, the last car raced by Peter Gregg; the 2009 Daytona-winning Porsche Riley, to be driven by David Donohue; the 2011 911 GT3 Cup car; and the 2017 911 RSR.

In addition, Brumos Collection owner Dano Davis will be the honorary starter for the 24-hour race.

Donations benefit museums

The Western Reserve Historical Society of Cleveland, which includes the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, has received what it calls a “transformational” gift of $3 million from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. Funds will be used to renovate the 4-story library and office building at the Cleveland History Center, the society said.

The society also announced a $750,000 appropriation from the State of Ohio for capital improvements at the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum.

The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan, has proclaimed Hagerty a “Partner in Innovation” after the automotive lifestyle, insurance and vehicle valuation company pledged a $1 million donation. Hagerty also becomes the presenting sponsor of the Motor Muster and Old Car Festival held annually at the museum’s Greenfield Village. 

Mark your calendar

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, hosts a “Sweetheart Soiree” on February 13. Three seating times are available. On February 14 the museum hosts a “Toast to Love” brunch, again with three seating times available.

The Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, offers its Third Thursday Talk at 7 p.m. on February 18 with Dale Johnson presenting “When GM headed West.”

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, presents “Hemi Highlights: The Ardun Hemispherical Head Design Flat Head Ford Conversion” at 10 a.m. February 20 featuring Lynn Paxton, Eastern Museum of Motor Racing curator. Topics to be covered include how the Ardun design relates to the Chrysler Hemi, connections to Allard, and research and design in dirt track racing.

1972 snowmobile
1972 Mercury Model 250ER snowmobile | Michael Allen Collection photo

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, stages its first Winter Motoring Meet on February 20. The museum will offer rides around the likely snow-covered campus in vintage vehicles, an exhibit of vintage snowmobiles, an ice-carving exhibition, outdoor games, and food and beverages. 

The Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, hosts its monthly Fords on Sunday car show February 28.

The 2021 season opens March 5 at the National Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with a driving club day. The Kartplex opens the following day and a King of the Heap event also is scheduled for March 6.

The Mustang Owner’s Museum has moved its Spring Carolina Cruise to April 24 and its California Special Mustang Day to May 1.

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

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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