Automotive Art & Architecture in Washington D.C.

My wife and I drove to Washington D.C. earlier this week to visit her brother, who has lived there for over 30 years. It had been a few years since we visited, and I was looking forward to a few relaxing days, taking in a couple of museums and strolling around his neighborhood. The last thing I expected was to find material for a blog post, but that is exactly what happened.

My wife wanted to see a quilt exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. However, before we got near any quilts, a full-size Ford grabbed my attention. A highly-modified 1969 Ford LTD, billed as “Dave’s Dream”, was featured on the main floor. It was cordoned off so that you couldn’t not get too close. It was the only car on display, and I can only surmise that the theme, in its own way, represents some slice of American History.

On an upper floor was a Richard Avedon photography exhibit. His black & white portraiture is stunning and striking, and part of the exhibit highlighted his start as a photographer for Life, Look, the Saturday Evening Post, and other long-gone weeklies. A nearby sitting area had actual magazines from the ‘40s and ‘50s available for browsing. I selected one at random and opened it, only to find a Willys Jeep ad, one I had never seen before. It was news to me that as early as the late 1940s, Willys-Overland was advertising the purported superior traction advantages of its Jeep.

The next day we strolled around a nearby residential area. A road was closed for construction work. A crew was using a gas-powered saw to slice through the asphalt, then using a backhoe to dig. To my surprise, they were doing this directly alongside a Chevrolet Malibu which had ignored the “don’t park here because we’re going to start work soon” signage. The crew was so far along that even if the owner wanted to relocate the car, it would necessitate driving on the sidewalk.

The garage for this BMW had this lovely mural painted on its side. Can we presume that the owner would rather be behind the wheel of the bullet-nose Studebaker?

In the same neighborhood as the marooned Malibu and the post-war poster car was this ancient Dodge Caravan, its paint long-lost to the elements. The roof rack was supporting sawn-off tree branches. (Also make note of the steering wheel lock, as if this thing is a likely target for thieves.) My brother-in-law said that the townhomes on this block sell in the $2 million+ range. I am beyond creating any rationale for the existence of this minivan.

 

All photographs copyright © 2023 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.3

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