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Worth the risk? What happens when museum cars venture out for some exercise

Our weekly roundup of car museum news and notes


Recently, two automotive museums put cars from their collections at risk, and with mixed results.

With the Petersen Automotive Museum closed until recently by the coronavirus pandemic, staff apparently had some time on its hands, so it took eight cars from its collection out to the historic Santa Margarita Ranch for some on-camera exercise. 

First up in the museum’s new YouTube series is a drag race matching the museum’s multi-million-dollar 1967 Ford GT40 Mk III against a privately owned 2005 Ford GT. 

Which car wins? Watch for yourself:

Meanwhile, Hagerty Media is doing a series on the “real-world behavior of legendary cars with infamous handling,” starting with the Lane Motor Museum’s Tatra T87, a car that reportedly killed more Nazi officers than did Allied gunfire. 

“Let’s make one thing clear,” Sam Smith wrote in his story for Hagerty. “We did not set out to roll the Tatra.”

You can read on and see the results in the story.

Mustang museum has busy May schedule

Although events at the Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, remain restricted to 25 vehicles due to pandemic concerns, the museum has a full schedule of vehicle showcases planned for its parking lot in May.

They include National California Mustang Day on May 1, a Mustang Club of American showcase May 7-8, a Mustang first-generation show May 15, a Spring Ford-garage sale May 22, a Mustang pace car day May 29 and a Memorial Day cruise hosted by Wrecking Crew Mustangs May 31.

For details, visit the museum website.

Air fresheners displayed at Mercedes museum

Little Trees air freshener
Little Trees disposable air fresheners were invented in the 1950s. A range of fragrances are bound in the air fresheners and released into the air over a period of time } | Museum photos
Air-Balance system operates in S-Class vehicles

SEMA isn’t the only big automotive aftermarket show held in Las Vegas. While SEMA is at the convention center, AAPEX is staging its show over at the Sands. While there is some overlap, AAPEX is aimed more at buyers from retail outlets.

A few years ago, I broke away from the SEMA Show to spend an afternoon at AAPEX, where one of the big displays was hosted by the Car-Freshner Corporation, maker of the Little Trees brand of automotive air fresheners that hang, apparently, from rear-view mirrors around the world, because one of the “33 Extras” exhibits at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany features Little Trees and other air fresheners designed for cars.

It was back in 1952 that milkman Julius Sämann got tired of the smell of spilt milk in his truck and created the first automotive air freshener, using blotter material and pine-needle oil. 

“Julius Sämann was a very assiduous entrepreneur,” the Mercedes museum notes. “He not only founded his own company to produce and distribute his Little Trees, but also offered a range of different fragrances from an early stage. 

“In addition to ‘Royal Pine,’ there were also ‘Spice’ and ‘Bouquet’ scents. Soon ‘Caribbean Colada’ brought a waft of South Seas air, but also ‘Vanillaroma’ and especially the ‘New Car Scent’ became bestsellers.

“The Little Trees with their many scent variations are still successful today because they offer an easy way to freshen up the air in enclosed spaces.”

However, for those who prefer a more elegant-appearing smell solution, Mercedes notes that it offers its own Air-Balance system, which was introduced in 2009 in the Maybach Zeppelin model. The system featured a perfume atomizer mounted on the rear center console that released the car owner’s choice of perfume. 

The Air-Balance system has been adapted as a plug-in on a variety of current Mercedes models.

BMW club museum reopening

The BMW Car Club of America Foundation Museum will stage a grand reopening event May 21 in Greer, South Carolina, when it launches under a new name, The Ultimate Car Museum. 

The date also marks the end of the “Genesis: BMW From the Beginning” exhibition.

David Donohue

David Donohue joins the Audrain team

Second-generation race driver David Donohue has joined the staff of the Audrain Group as senior vice president of member experiences and sales.

The Audrain Group oversees a concours d’elegance and automotive festival as well as an automotive museum in Newport, Rhode Island.

The son of the late championship racer and Indy 500-winner Mark Donohue, David Donohue has a long history with Porsche motorsports and has done 24-hour races at Le Mans and Daytona as well as racing up Pikes Peak and in numerous other events here and abroad.

Play area open at Lane

Children’s play area at the Lane

A children’s play area is open at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, and in compliance with current pandemic guidelines. The indoor play area features various activities for young visitors.

Special events this weekend

The Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California, reopens April 9 on a Friday through Sunday basis.

It’s a “Hoods Up” weekend April 10-11 at the Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island, where engines will be exposed on more than 75 vehicles in 6 galleries. In addition, the Corvette Club of Western Massachusetts will gather in the museum parking lot at 10 a.m. on April 10.

Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California, features Denny Miller and his book, Indianapolis Motor Speedway: The Eddie Rickenbacker Era, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on April 10.

Mark your calendar

“The GM Oshawa Strike of 1937” is the subject of the Third Thursday Zoomcast presentation April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Canadian Automotive Museum. Earlier in the day, at noon, the museum offers a Culture Chats at Lunch Zoom program on “Oshawa’s Automotive Community, 1867-1937.”

On April 16, the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee opens a new display featuring the 1957 Model FL ridden by Mexican stunt rider and racer Alfonso Sotomayor Canales. The display will be previewed in a virtual gallery talk at 7 p.m. on April 15.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will offer free admission to everyone who arrives at the facility in a Ford Mustang on National Mustang Day, April 17, and with a bonus perk for the first 100 Mustangs to arrive.

Also celebrating National Mustang Day is the Mustang Owner’s Museum, which will do a cruise from its facility in Concord, North Carolina, to visit the Holman Moody shop, among other locations.

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, hosts a cars and coffee event from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. on April 17. Only 50 cars can be accommodated so pre-registration is required.

Cars & Coffee returns to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in northeast Indiana from 9 a.m until 11 a.m. on April 17. Cars & Coffee cruise-ins are planned for the third Saturday of the month from April through September.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento offers the next episode in its “outdoor museum series” on April 17 with a showcase featuring the Capitol “A’s” from the Sacramento region of the Model A Ford Club of America.

DeLoreans from the Northern California DeLorean Motor Club will be featured April 17 from 10 a.m. until noon outside the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California.

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, opens its car show season May 1 with a new Mustang and Ford gathering featuring 1980s and ’80s Fox body vehicles.

The Mustang Owners Museum has moved its Spring Carolina Cruise to April 24 and its California Special Mustang Day to May 1. It also has delayed its annual National Mustang Day event until July 29-31. 

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento stages the Cap City Motor Tour on May 1 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, will stage a members-only event May 9 from 9 a.m. until noon, offering rides in a 1964 Amphicar at Percy Priest Lake. 

Beginning in May and running into September, the LeMay Family 

Collection in Tacoma, Washington, hosts a second Thursday “Cars and Comedy” evening starting at 6 p.m. The museum says to bring a picnic and enjoy an evening featuring local comedians.

On May 13, the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, will offer Ladies Night @ Lane from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., a happy hour event that will offer basic skills instruction for changing a tire, checking oil levels, etc. 

The Canadian Automobile Museum’s Third Thursday Zoom presentation on May 20 at 7 p.m. covers “The Oshawa Worker at War,” with Jeremy Blowers of the Ontario Regiment Museum talking about the Oshawa auto workers’ contribution to the war efforts for WWI and WWII.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, opens a new exhibit, “Keep on Truckin’” to showcase the century-long evolution of the pickup truck. 

Michael Schumacher and Paul Page will be inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame on May 27.

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, opens a special exhibit, “RADwood on Display,” staring May 27, featuring cars and motorcycles and fashions from the 1980s and ‘90s.

The Museum of Bus Transportation at Hershey, Pennsylvania, hosts its Spring Fling on June 5 to celebrate the “golden age” of bus and motorcoach transportation. Awards will be given for best of show 1950s and 1960s, oldest and traveled farthest to attend. For details, visit the museum website.

Britain’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu hosts its Simply Porsche car show on June 6.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will host a “Sizzlin’ Summer Cruise In” from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on June 19.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, unveils a new exhibition, “Corvette Powered,” during the Memorial Day weekend. The exhibit will showcase non-GM vehicles (cars, boats and motorcycles) powered by the Corvette’s small-block V8 engine, including a 1958 Scarab, 1966 Excalibur, 1967 Bizzarrini Strada, 1977 Avanti II and others.

There is more than cars to see in Beaulieu, England, home to the National Motor Museum. From June 19 to August 30, the Beaulieu Palace House will showcase more than 250 sculptures in its gardens and inside the Montagu family home.

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, hosts a Father’s Day car show on June 20.

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, 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.


  1. Your lead story for this roundup does bring chills to the backs of many enthusiasts that cringe at the thought of these masterpieces being subjected to the abuse of driving. Yikes!!
    Heaven forbid this could happen! Sacrilege for sure.
    The Revs Institute in Naples, Florida regularly puts multiple members of its collection on the road and track, some of them one of a kind, to show their stuff and exhibit exactly what these vehicles were meant to do…be DRIVEN! Kudos to all the museums willing to provide some exercise for these machines of speed and transport!


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