Tiriac Collection via Facebook
Recent events lead us to believe that getting out of the house to mingle freely with other car lovers will happen again in our lifetimes. Until then, taking virtual tours of car museums makes a fine escape—or better yet, a planning mission for the day when “traveling” is no longer a dirty word. Of course we recommend swinging by all the OEM cathedrals, particularly the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, GM Heritage Center, Mercedes-Benz Museum, Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, and The Petersen. But quiet collections in quiet corners of the world are also full of delights, so we’ve put together a few that are worth the virtual tour, from Oxnard to Romania. Best of all, you don’t need to worry about masks, or having enough snacks for the kids, or figuring out where the bathroom is. Enjoy.
Larz Anderson Auto Museum — Brookline, Massachusetts
Larz and Isabel Anderson married in 1899 and bought a new car almost every year for the next three decades. The couple hosted locals on Sunday mornings at their Brookline, Massachusetts, estate to view their cars, and when Isabel Anderson donated the estate to a car club upon her death, the club continued the viewing tradition. The Larz Anderson Auto Museum holds only a small collection, but it’s a worthwhile snapshot of early-20th-century wealth. Treats include a 1907 Fiat with its 11-liter six-cylinder and the motto “No Hill Can Stop Me,” and a 1926 Lincoln Seven (pictured) that cost 15 times more than a Model T, with custom suicide doors and a greyhound hood ornament commissioned by Lincoln president Edsel Ford.
Lane Motor Museum — Nashville, Tennessee
The Southern city known for music, barbecue, and the country’s only full-scale replica of the Parthenon also gives us the Lane Motor Museum. Established in a former bakery, it contains more than 550 cars, motorcycles, planes, boats, and bicycles spread around the 132,000-square-foot facility. The museum specializes in forgotten or little-known vehicles like Britain’s Berkeley and our own Davis Divan. Famous makes feature, too, and among the extensive Citroën, Tatra, and Matra collections there are domestic gems like the 1948 Crosley CC4 pickup and the 1961 Chevrolet Corvair Corphibian sprinkled throughout. There are also oddities including the Autonacional Biscuter (pictured), designed in Paris but popular in 1950s Spain, where it was affectionately known as the “Zapatilla” (little shoe).
Louwman Museum — The Hague, Netherlands
The fastest (and these days, the only) way to get to the Continent is online. This would be a great time to stop by the Louwman Museum in the Netherlands to check out eccentricities like the 1910 Brooke Swan Car and its small sidekick, the Cygnet (pictured), along with a De Soto Series S-11C taxi and a 1974 Maserati Medici concept.
Mullin Museum — Oxnard, California
Known for its assortment of Bugattis, the Mullin Museum specializes in exceptional French luxury as far back as the late 1800s. This comes in motorized and non-motorized forms, which is how you get a Renault “Victoria Park” Carriage from the 1890s sharing space with a 1922 Renault Phaeton Landaulet Type JV, and a 1925 Bugatti Type 35C parked alongside a horse-drawn 1930 Bugatti cart. It’s worth stopping by the site’s Exhibitions page, too, for stories on the “Lady of the Lake” 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia roadster (pictured) and the unrestored Bugattis that once were part of the European Schlumpf Collection.
Revs Institute — Naples, Florida
Founded by Miles Collier, scion of a motor-racing family, the Revs Institute counts more than 100 vehicles built from 1896 to 1995. Each display represents some step in automotive innovation in a nondenominational through line connecting cars not usually seen together; an 1896 Panhard et Levassor Wagonette, a 1934 Chrysler Airflow Imperial CV-8 coupe, and a 1958 Porsche Behra Formula 2 car (pictured) mingle happily. The online tour also provides tech specs for the showpieces, stories about the cars, and beautiful photos.
Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This one’s all about racing, with 75 of the world’s finest racing and sports cars from Europe and the U.S. The Simeone collection includes the usual suspects such as a 1927 Mercedes-Benz S-type Sportwagen, a 1953 Jaguar C-type, and a 1970 Plymouth Superbird. There’s plenty you wouldn’t expect or might not have heard of, too. That includes a 1909 American Underslung Traveler (pictured) and its 40-inch wheels, a 1921 Duesenberg 183 Grand Prix race car—one of just three built—and another one-of-three car in the 1938 Peugeot Darl’mat Le Mans racer. The Simeone Foundation has also done virtual visitors the favor of writing detailed explanations of the vehicle in general and the specific car on display, supplemented by excellent vintage and modern photos.
Tiriac Collection — Ilfov, Romania
Why not head to Europe online now that physical leisure travel there is practically verboten? If you’re going all that way, even online, then spare a few clicks for the Tiriac Collection, assembled by professional tennis and hockey player Ion Tiriac. This collection also has an app that provides a true 360-degree digital tour. Lots of famous and unknown vehicles start with the 1899 Hurtu 3 ½ Quadricycle, and it also claims to be the only museum containing at least one example of the Rolls-Royce Phantom, from Series I to Series VII. Where else will you find a 2010 Ford Mustang GT with a custom-stitched white leather interior keeping company with a 1924 Ahrens Fox NS24 ladder truck and a 1965 Bentley S3? Nowhere. Check out the long oval grilles on the 1960 BMW 502 V-8 3.2-liter, too; they remind us that BMW’s current, polarizing kidney grille design has a precedent.
Volo Auto Museum — Volo, Illinois
The curating philosophy of the Volo Auto Museum appears to be, “Yes.” The partial list of wares covers the Ford camper shown here, plus snowmobiles, scooters, movie cars, celebrities’ cars, military planes and helicopters, monster trucks, trains, pedal cars, vintage tractors, finned boats of the 1950s, and antique outboard motors—those latter two sounding like Jeopardy! categories. There’s plenty to learn among such expansive keepsakes: the vintage camper selection proves that #VanLife isn’t new, finding out that Elvis Presley commissioned a custom 1974 Cadillac De Ville station wagon with a pink roof makes us appreciate the King even more, and we’d love to show up to the next Indian motorcycle meet riding the old-school-cool 1949 Indian Stylemaster scooter, because we’re hard core like that.
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