Last Saturday, Martine and I stopped in at the Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum (newly re-named) to see a show of Cadillacs.on display from private collectors. I am not generally interested in Caddies, but what caught my eye were the cars tricked out with hydraulics and fancy paint jobs.
To me, there was a lot of humor in this, as if the car owners were sharing a joke. I liked them more than the Cadillacs that were, so to speak, mint in box.
I was rather surprised to see so many Caddies on view and so many visitors. I guess they have maintained a level of popularity with aficionados that I never suspected.
Another Show at El Segundo’s Automobile Driving Museum
On Saturday morning, Martine and I drove down to the Automobile Driving Museum for their Air-Cooled Volkswagen Car Show. I was frankly surprised that so many entries and visitors showed up. It reminded me that around 1969 I consider buying a VW Beetle—and that was even before I learned to drive. Because of medical reasons, I was not to get my driver’s license until age 40. I never did get a VW. My first car was a 4-cylinder Mitsubishi Montero, followed by a Nissan Pathfinder, and now a 2018 Subaru Forester.
The Poster for the V Dub Show
In the late 1960s through the 1970s, I knew a lot of people who had Beetles, VW Microbuses (which I always thought looked cool), and Karmann-Ghias.
From the museum, we drove down to Captain Kidd’s Fish Market and Restaurant in Redondo Beach and had a great seafood lunch.
There Is Something Classy About the Logos of British Sports Cars
As Martine and I attended a British car show at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, I became acutely conscious of the snazzy sports car logos—far more sophisticated than most American and Japanese equivalents. Here are just a few of the hood ornaments I snapped at the show. They reminded me of the medieval art of heraldry.
You Can See My Reflection on the Hood
I Had Never Even Heard of This Make
I Don’t Quite Understand the Letters Above the Name “Lotus”
I feel almost Chestertonian in my seeing this heraldic connection, but I really think it is not all that far fetched.
Today, Martine and I visited the Automobile Driving Museum (ADM) in El Segundo for their annual Chevrolet Corvette event. The Corvette is Martine’s favorite car model, whereas I tend toward super-pragmatic Japanese models. The quarantine has taken a lot out of both of us, and it gives me pleasure to make Martine happy.
The Corvette has been in production since 1953 and is still going strong. Of all the single-model car events we have attended at the museum, the Corvette shows have been the best attended.
Martine Checking Out a Corvette
Her preference is for the earlier models, as she has a distinct dislike of bucket seats, although they are to be found practically everywhere now. Myself, I find the Corvettes to be one of those built-low-to-the-ground sports cars favored by aggressive drivers who like to outperform other cars on the road. As the owner of a 2018 Subaru Forester, I would prefer to get from Point A to Point B safely. To others, where is the fun in that?
Hmm, I’ve Always Suspected That These Beasts Were Made for Flying
As the quarantine lifts, there will be a lot of other events at the ADM, and we are highly likely to go about once a month.
There are several things I could write about today. For instance, I could celebrate my 40th annual boycott of the Academy Awards Show. Or I could tell you what V. S. Naipaul thought about politics and politicians—well, maybe tomorrow on that one. I think instead I will talk about the Automobile Driving Museum’s Orphan Car Show held yesterday.
By “orphan” was meant all discontinued makes and models. There was a Hudson, a LA Fire Department Hummer, several American Motors and Nash products, several Austin-Healeys, even a weird Fiat that competed with golf carts. And the place was crowded with affable car collectors eager to talk about their prize possessions.
Poster for Yesterday’s “Cruise-In” Car Show
Martine always enjoys the Automobile Driving Museum because of its emphasis on classic American cars and because of its nearness to where we live. On May 1, the museum displays inside will re-open, and Martine will once again be able to sit inside a classic Corvette and dream about the old days when Detroit made some great cars.
Another Fun Event at the Automobile Driving Museum: The Women’s Car Show
On Saturday, Martine and I dropped in at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo to see a car show dedicated to the wheels of women auto enthusiasts. This weekend, for the first time I began to detect a spring of hope in this grim pandemic season. Americans are getting vaccinated, and businesses are slowly beginning to open up again. (For the first time in over a year, we ate indoors at Ye Olde King’s Head Restaurant in Santa Monica.)
I was curious to see what a Women’s Car Show would be like, and found that the ladies liked vintage cars as much as men do. The men, however, would not accompany it with a fashion show.
Poster for the Women’s Car Show
Martine has developed a real fondness for the Automobile Driving Museum and its various events. I enjoy going because there are so few things that she likes so much. I also enjoy being with car enthusiasts, because many of the old cars are indeed works of art that I can well appreciate.
Cool Bulldog at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo
Martine misses the car shows at El Segundo’s Automobile Driving Museum, which is temporarily closed during the Covid-19 quarantine. Before the dread coronavirus made its way around the world, we would go places—especially on the weekends—and I would post blogs about the places we visited.
There are several things about the Automobile Driving Museum (ADM) which make it particularly welcome to us. For one thing, Martine loves the classic American cars, particularly the Corvettes. Unlike most auto museums, the ADM allows you to sit behind the wheel and fantasize you are driving a classic.
Also, El Segundo is the home of the Old Town Music Hall with its Wurlitzer Organ and program of old films. It, too, is closed during the quarantine.
Finally, Martine loves In-N-Out Burgers on Sepulveda Boulevard. Although we can’t eat inside at present—Guess Why?—the restaurant is open for take-out. Fortunately, In-N-Out knows how to do take-out and always has.
Chewy the Bulldog at the Automobile Driving Museum
The coronavirus outbreak has affected me mostly in two ways:
There has been no place to go. We could take walks to nowhere, of course, but that palls quickly.
We haven’t been able to see our friends in person.
In the last two weeks or so, some destinations have become available. This weekend, we availed ourselves of two of them. Yesterday, we went to the Cruise-In show at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo. Martine has become particularly enamored of the museum, so much so that she donated $300.00 to them to help them out of the plaguey times.
There, we met the bulldog Chewy (picture above), who showed himself to be a real cool customer. Also, my favorite caterer, the Taco Taxi, was there with their super-great Mexican street tacos.
Neon Signs from the SFV Yesteryear
Today we showed up at the Valley Relics Museum in Lake Balboa to see their displays of pop culture hearkening back to the glory days of the San Fernando Valley back in the 1960s and 1970s. Most impressive was a large warehouse (above) filled with neon and other signs of businesses that are no longer. Back around 1970, I used to go to Pioneer Take-Out on Westwood Boulevard near Pico for a bucket of their chicken livers. That’s not an item that can be found at most chicken restaurants.
We had visited the museum once before, but didn’t enjoy it as much because it isn’t air conditioned, and in the Valley the heat can be formidable. Fortunately, today was on the cool side; and we were comfortable.
Manny, Moe and Jack from the Pep Boys
We ended by driving to a late lunch at Lancers Restaurant in Burbank. It’s one of Martine’s favorite sources of American coffee shoppe chow.
Martine is more devoted to her distant past than anyone else I know. Because during her childhood, at different times her mother owned two used Corvairs, a 1960 and a 1967, Martine wanted to visit a Corvair show at the Automobile Driving Museum in nearby El Segundo. We stayed the whole five hours of the show, from 10 am to 3 pm, and then we stayed a bit longer while Martine revisited the permanent collection of the museum.
I am not an automobile aficionado the way Martine is, so I was slightly bored. The high point for me was the Mexican street tacos that and aguas frescas that were sold by the Mexican food vendor. Other than that, I spent about an hour or two looking at the Corvairs before finding a bench and reading Jorge Amado’s 1984 Brazilian novel Jubiabá in translation.
Instead of rushing Martine through the show, I rather enjoyed her delight in revisiting the Corvairs of her youth. She was also on the lookout for Tony Dow, a Corvair enthusiast who played Wally Cleaver in the old “Leave It to Beaver” TV show. She thinks she may have seen him there, but he looks really different than he did some sixty years ago.
Martine Behind the Wheel of a 1960-Vintage Cadillac
One interesting thing about the Automobile Driving Museum is that visitors can sit behind the wheel of most cars in the museum’s collection. It was fun seeing Martine relive her childhood fantasies, even at the cost of some slight boredom on my part. So I guess it all balanced out.