Sunday, March 2, 2014

LeMay - America's Car Museum

Recently I dragged the family down to Tacoma, about an hour drive for us, to visit the LeMay museum.  Full name being LeMay - America's Car Museum.  Me, interested in checking the place out - especially for the current Volkswagen exhibit.  Family, well - just along for the ride really. Even so, off we go down busy and rainy I-5 South.  We've driven by the museum before, noting its interesting architecture, now we'll finally venture inside.

Once inside, realize the place is much larger then anticipated, four floors of cars and motorcycles on display.  After poking around the Volkswagen exhibit for a bit, we hit the cafe for lunch.  Not a bad spot, burgers for all, complete with museum overlook view.  

Once fueled up (burp), back out to gawk at more cars and displays.  Even the family seems to be interested now.  I took an insane amount of photos while wandering around, posted a few to give you the sampler platter of what's on display...

1954 Volkswagen panel van looking minty fresh in this fantastic shade of blue.  Old school VW buses always look cool, especially the older models.

1943 KdF Wagen, certainly the prototype for all things Beetle related.  Oldest VW I've ever witnessed in the flesh, uh, metal.  I can only imagine what this is worth today, large sacks of money required.

Impressively restored camper awaits extended vacation touring national parks, or to be gawked at by museum patrons.  Your choice.  I've always wanted one of these, though mine would have the hopped up motor and disk brake conversion.  Call me sacrilegious.

Federal law dictates every Volkswagen display contains the Herbie replica.  Go ahead, look it up...

Original Meyers Manx dune buggy keeps the clean 21 window bus company.  Quite the couple I might add.  Many copies of the Manx buggy available during the late '60s and early '70s, the original models now pretty rare.

Very orange '73 Volkswagen Thing stuns the retinas, safely hidden behind low level barrier. I owned a '73 Thing, though in yellow, for a short time during the '80s.  Mine was exceptionally clean with only 40,000 miles on the clock. Saving a garage full of 'em would have done better the my current 401k.  If only I had a crystal ball and a really big garage back then.

Vintage Chevy Impala looking very red and very long.  I dig the fins.

Pontiac GTO stands tall under cool looking wooden architecture.

Vintage Cadillac has it eye on you.  Make that eyes, many of 'em...

1924 BSA basks under modern lighting.

Muscle car stare down.

Drop in and do the ton on this '56 BSA.  LeMay hallways possibly long enough for this.

The envy of current cafe racer hipsters, may I present the 1962 Norton.  Very nice indeed.

Beep Beep'm Beep Beep Yeah...

I'm old enough to remember Truimph and other classic cars being just old sports cars, the classified ads full of 'em.  I owned a '77 Triumph Spitfire for a spell during the '80s.  This one a clean example of the GT6 model.  I'd dig owning one still today.

Being two wheel guy, was pleased to find various examples on display - including this '64 Rickman - fresh from the dinosaur era of motocross.

Old school BSA flat track racer, rear suspension and air cleaners be damned.  Boots and steel shoe included at no extra charge.

CZ showing off Czechoslovakia motocross technology, straight out of '72.  I do notice modern rear shocks, so perhaps ready for a little AHRMA action.

Plonk, plonk, dab, dab. 1964 Triumph ready for some vintage observed trials.  I get a kick out of the rear suspension combined with sprung saddle, for the dual boing action.

1969 AMX covering the muscle car base for AMC.  Cool body style that still looks good even now.

As the hot rod example, the "Ferrambo" for your consideration.  1960 Rambler wagon with mid mounted Ferrari 360 engine.  Not exactly something you see everyday.  Much hand work on this rig.

Vintage funny car action.  Getting up close to these old school drag racers, realize safety aspect not so funny.  Basically the nitro burning bomb in your lap, with spinning slicks next to the sides of your head.  Luckily the ride is a short one...

Stock car racing, back when they really were based on stock cars.  Again, poking your head into the cockpit, lack of safety gear impressive and scary at the same time.

Bultaco Metralla has been on my fantasy vintage motorcycle list for years.  Please send money...

The kids dug racing slot cars on the large track.  Snapping pics of flying slot cars ain't easy, good thing film is cheap nowadays...

Well, I guess the '47 Ferrari would be just that.

Cannonball run winning '71 Ferrari Daytona.  Ironically, I just finished reading about this car being piloted by Dan Gurney and Brock Yates, just before my museum visit - fun surprise.

Mommia mia, that's a long string of Ferraris.

Just your average, every day rally prepped Citroen.

Flying solar panel with room for one.

Tucker and friends.  Pretty cool building, eh?

1959 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia leads the way.

Beatle mania.

Vintage Formula V and race Bug discuss their glory days.  Putting together a street legal version of a vintage Bug racer, has been on my mental dream list for too many years.  Now just need a suitable Bug, spare time, extra room, and spare Pile-O-Cash.  Hence, the mental dream aspect.

Orange 1911 Flying Merkel enjoys the dappled afternoon light.

We closed the place down, as witnessed by sunset over stylish museum.  We'll be back.

Trip to the museum highly recommended.  Gear heads will be bowled over by the impressive display of cars from various countries and eras. Sprinkle in tasty motorcycles and other displays as well.  Non gear head types should enjoy the vastness and modern layout of the place, very well done.  Toss in a lunch stop and you have a full day of it.

On the photography front - endless cars, details, and lighting to play with.  I only posted a smattering of what I shot and a small glimpse into the possibilities.  From what I understand, they change exhibits occasionally, so heading there again on my agenda.

I suggest you do the same…


  1. Cool museum and a high quality display! Enjoyed the visit from a chair.

  2. Really enjoyable read, Dan. Thanks man! -J

  3. Glad you enjoyed seeing my Vintage Road Racing Bug.

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