The Alfa Returns From Its Stay At the AACA Museum

The AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Museum in Hershey PA has both permanent and temporary automotive exhibits. In November of 2016, a 5-month long show was launched there, entitled Amore della Strada (“Love of the Road”), a tribute to Italian machinery of both the 4-wheel and 2-wheel varieties.

I was humbled to have my 1967 Alfa Romeo chosen as one of only about 20 cars for the exhibit. Aside from the honor of having your vehicle on display for the public to admire, there are the logistical challenges of getting the car there, and getting the car home. All transportation arrangements are the sole responsibility of the vehicle owner.

The Alfa poses in front of its temporary home.

Bringing the car to them was easy, because my wife and I decided to spend the weekend in Hershey. The Alfa made the trek without incident (with the driver thankful that there was no early snow). My wife followed in her modern iron, so getting home was simple.

I knew from the start that the museum exhibit was scheduled to end the same April weekend as Spring Carlisle. My good friend Larry and I made plans to attend the Carlisle show together, and he generously offered to pick me up at my house, drive me to Carlisle, then drive me to the Museum. There had been previous email exchanges with museum staff that I would show up sometime on Friday to get the car.

Larry’s such a good friend that he stuck around to make sure my departure was OK.

Upon arrival, there was one hitch: my car’s battery, which the museum had assured me would be charged up, was not. When I sat in the car to crank the engine, the revolutions were so slow that you could count them. A 12V powerpack was brought to the scene, and the Alfa started right up. Any concerns about re-starting were alleviated when I turned off the car, and it immediately cranked back to life.

Day #2 of the Carlisle Auction was in action on Friday, and I wanted to be there. I drove to the showfield, and parked in a private driveway (five bucks, thanks Rita!) arranged by another good friend, Rich S. Then, back to my hotel Friday night, with the Alfa safely tucked behind the building.

Saturday morning, up bright and early, and I was on the road again in the little Alfa. Traffic was surprisingly heavy along Routes 81 and 78, but I’ve learned to stick to the right lane and stay out of the way. At 155 inches and 2,000 pounds, my 1300 Junior would be flicked off the road like a pesky bug should an SUV or 18-wheeler make an errant maneuver.

I-78 eastbound, somewhere in PA. At 70 mph in 5th, engine is turning just under 4k.

The car ran beautifully the entire way home. One hundred and thirty-four miles later, it was back in the garage that the car hadn’t seen since November of last year. Once some basic maintenance is attended to, we can start with the first of a number of events which have been scheduled for the car this year.

Back home, safe and sound

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

A Late Winter Visit To the AACA Museum

A 1958 Chevrolet Impala “on Route 66” inside the AACA Museum

 

On March 18, 2017, seven intrepid souls, expecting a delightful early spring day, ventured instead into the dreary dampness to visit the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Museum in Hershey PA.

One of our rides for the day

The trip was planned weeks ago as a “rain or shine” event, and our travels were assuaged by riding in modern chariots, that is, two brand new Volvo XC90 SUVs. After an obligatory Dunkin’ Donuts stop, we were at the Museum by 11 a.m. Once there, Museum employees informed us that the basement had been emptied of many of its cars in preparation for an afternoon private event, so the daily admission fee was discounted. (AACA members are granted free entry.) But with the main floor fully stocked, there was plenty to see.

Hybrids are allowed to park up front, and recharge for free at the same time

In addition to the permanent exhibits, two temporary exhibits were in the house. “Amore della Strade” features cars and motorcycles of Italian heritage, and “Mopar Midsize Muscle” delivers big block excitement from the Chrysler Corporation.

A 1967 Plymouth GTX

Certainly, the most extraordinary permanent display is the “Cammack Collection”, a grand showing of Tucker automobiles, engines, artifacts, and history. The late David Cammack had begun collecting all things Tucker in the early 1970s. Before his passing in 2013, he willed his entire collection to the AACA Museum. The Museum in turn has done a marvelous job in setting up an interactive display to teach the public about this enigmatic automobile.

A Tucker in front of a reproduction Tucker dealership

Three hours or so after entering, we were on our way out. More importantly, we were hungry, and our stop at The Manor Restaurant & Bar up the street (thanks, Ted!) satisfied everyone’s hunger and thirst. To cap off a wonderful day, in spite of the cold, we made it (almost) all the way back without hitting any of the promised rain and snow. We each declared the day a success, and promised to make return visits.

 

Some of the oldest cars on display; the vehicles are arranged by decade

 

A 1932 Studebaker

 

The Italian motorcycles were in their own display room

 

Several of our group stand near the author’s ’67 Alfa, on loan as part of the Italian car display

 

The Tucker exhibit includes prototype engines against a photo of the engine manufacturing plant

 

Colleagues pose next to one of three Tuckers in the museum (out of 51 built)

 

 

First- and second-generation Dodge Chargers

 

1970 Dodge Charger

 

The basement includes buses and a reproduction 1950’s diner

 

A mid-60s Corvette is the centerpiece display of numerous Chevrolets

 

A wall mural pays tribute to Milton Hershey, whose businesses still dominate his namesake town

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

The AACA Museum Hosts “Amore della Strada” Opening Reception

On the evening of November 18, 2016, the AACA Museum in Hershey PA officially opened its “Amore della Strada” Italian machinery exhibit with a reception at the museum. The public was invited to attend, and turnout was large, making for crowded aisles. The doors opened at 6pm, and your $20 admission included antipasti, beer, and wine. Those who owned cars on display were admitted “gratuito”.

Italian cars come in colors other that red!
Italian cars come in colors other than red!

There were approximately 20 Italian cars, and perhaps a dozen or so Italian motorcycles. The museum is arranged in such a way that there was no practical way for the curators to place all the special exhibits together. Therefore, they were arranged in smaller groups of 2, 3, 4, or more, and placards with each vehicle provided sufficient history regarding the make and model. Owners who were loaning their wares for the five-month duration of the show were dutifully acknowledged. (Last week’s blog entry covered this author’s drive to deliver his ’67 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior to the exhibit.)

Fiat, Alfa, and Christmas tree
Fiat, Alfa, and Christmas tree

Fiats and Alfa Romeos seemed to comprise the bulk of the vehicle displays, and some might agree with me that it was a refreshing change of pace for an “Italian Car Show” to NOT be dominated by late-model supercars from the Big 3 of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. (Of these three makes, I counted only two Ferraris.)

 

Ferrari 308GTB shares floor space with modified Fiat 124 Spider
Ferrari 308GTB shares floor space with modified Fiat 124 Spider

Among the Fiats, we saw three 124 Spiders, two X1/9s, and an 850 Spider. The X1/9s were a study in contrasts, as the bright green one was a first year example wearing the original bumper-less design, while the white one from 1987 wore no Fiat badges at all, as it was manufactured and sold by Bertone, and badged as such, since Fiat left the U.S. market after 1982. The only Italian prewar car on the floor was a delightful 1937 Fiat Topolino (Little Mouse).

Adorable 1937 Fiat Topolino (owned by AACA Museum)
Adorable 1937 Fiat Topolino (owned by AACA Museum)

 

1974 Fiat X1/9 - note lack of battering ram bumpers
1974 Fiat X1/9 – note lack of battering ram bumpers

 

1987 Bertone X1/9, one of the last of the breed
1987 Bertone X1/9, one of the last of the breed

 

Nose of '87 X1/9 wears this in place of Fiat badge
Nose of ’87 X1/9 wears this in place of Fiat badge

 

 

Fiat 850 Spider
Fiat 850 Spider

The four Alfa Romeos included two Giulia coupes, one early step-nose and one 2nd generation design, a rare Montreal Coupe (with a factory V8), and the last Alfa sold in the U.S. market (until Sergio’s recent resurgence), the large front-wheel-drive 164 sedan.

 

 

Owners Ed and Shayna Geller with their stunning Alfa Montreal
Owners Ed and Shayna Geller with their stunning Alfa Montreal

 

Alfa GTV in red, Alfa 164 in black
Alfa GTV in red, Alfa 164 in black. Snake eats man; it’s part of the Alfa legend.

 

Yes, there were speeches too
Yes, there were speeches too

The show included vehicles that required an explanation how they passed the entrance exam, as two of them had big American V8 engines, and one had a British 4-cylinder lump. The DeTomaso Longchamp and Italia Omega are vehicles belonging to a class long known as ‘hybrids’ (decades before that term was used to describe a gas/electric vehicle).

Most car aficionados have heard of the DeTomaso Pantera, sold here by Lincoln-Mercury dealers in the early 1970s. The Longchamp is the squared-off, four-seat sister to the Pantera. The one on display featured a Ford 351 Cleveland engine mated to a 3-speed automatic. I’ve seen many a photo of Longchamps, and this was the first one I’ve ever seen in the metal.

The car labeled as a 1967 Italia Omega is more familiarly known to me as an Intermeccanica Italia. Based on my reading of the car’s placard, the history of this car company is convoluted at best. (Indeed, none of the several import-based compilation books in my library make any mention at all of this company.) The vehicle in the museum was an attractive convertible, using a front-mounted Ford 302 V8 paired with a 4-speed manual transmission.

The 1961 Triumph Italia on display is one of 329 built. While the design is certainly in the Italian mold, the sheetmetal hides what is essentially the drivetrain and chassis of a stock Triumph TR-3.  One of the outstanding features of the Italia is that it is the handiwork of a young Giovanni Michelotti, who would later pen the restyle of the TR-4 into the TR-6.

1961 Triumph Italia, with TR-3 mechanicals
1961 Triumph Italia, with TR-3 mechanicals

Scan through the photos below for shots of other vehicles which were on display. (And as always, click on any of the photos to enlarge them.)

Among the motorcycles, which are not my primary interest, I could not help but be drawn to the 1958 Iso Moto, built by the same company that originally designed the Iso Isetta. Like the Longchamp, it was a first for me to actually see one of these in person.

The “Amore della Strada” exhibit runs through April 22, 2017. There’s plenty to see at the Museum besides the Italian stuff. If you’ve never made the trip, this is a good excuse to do so. If you have, the Italian cars are a nice addition to what you may have seen before.

 

1960 Fiat Autobianchi
1960 Fiat Autobianchi

 

1954 S.I.A.T.A, with Fiat 8V engine
1954 S.I.A.T.A, with Fiat 8V engine

 

1957 Vespa 400, designed in Italy but built in France
1957 Vespa 400, designed in Italy but built in France

 

1971 O.T.A.S. 820 Grand Prix, built on Fiat 850 chassis
1971 O.T.A.S. 820 Grand Prix, built on Fiat 850 chassis

 

This 1954 Fiat 1100 wears custom sheetmetal reminiscent of the Alfa BAT cars
This 1954 Fiat 1100 wears custom bodywork reminiscent of the Alfa B.A.T. cars

 

Unlike the cars, the bikes fit into one room
Unlike the cars, the bikes fit into one room

 

Yes, it's an ISO; same parent company as the Isetta and the Griffo
Yes, it’s an ISO; same parent company as the Isetta and the Griffo

 

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

The Alfa is Loaned to the AACA Museum

The AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Museum in Hershey PA frequently presents special exhibits on a rotating basis, as a supplement to the vehicles on permanent display. One such exhibit, entitled “Amore Della Strada: Italian Cars” (translated as “Love of the Road”), is running from November 19, 2016, through April 22, 2017.

Earlier this year, the AACA invited its members to submit applications for their Italian cars to be considered. I completed said application, and was thrilled and humbled to learn that the ’67 Alfa Romeo which normally resides in my garage was accepted to be part of the show. (Of the approximately 20 Italian cars to be displayed, all but one are privately owned.)

On the crisp clear Friday morning of November 11, 2016, I started up the Alfa for its two-hour drive to Hershey (this car is no trailer queen). After putting 260 miles on it on last Sunday, this 120-mile ride would be simple. Aside from dicing it up with the tractor-trailers on Route 78 through Allentown PA, the trip was uneventful.

The Alfa arrives at the AACA Museum. The Hershey Kissmobile was also visiting.
The Alfa arrives at the AACA Museum. The Hershey Kissmobile was also visiting.

Arriving at the museum a little past 10 a.m., I drove around to the load-in entrance at the rear. Glenn from the museum staff met me there, and we went through some of the small peculiarities that make Italian cars so lovable. Glenn seemed especially astounded to learn that the ONLY way to open the trunk is by opening the passenger door and pulling the cable release in the door jamb, something he needed to know in order to access the trunk-mounted battery.

In the basement. You can just make out a Fiat 124 in front of my car.
In the basement. You can see a Fiat 124 in front of my car.

My buddy Larry, who is a saint-among-saints as a friend, met me out there in his Silverado. We toured the museum (it was his first time visiting), and got a sneak preview of the upcoming show, as most of the Italian cars were already on display. After a local lunch at Red Robin, we were back on the road by 3-ish.

Sneak preview: DeTomaso Longchamp, Fiats 124, 850, and X1/9
Sneak preview: DeTomaso Longchamp, Fiats 124, 850, and X1/9

My wife and I will be headed out there again this coming Friday for the exhibit’s opening reception – blog story to follow.  And now that I have an empty garage slot for the next five months, we’ll see if I can slip something else in there. (Honey, I know you’re reading this….)

Hamburger with arugula, spicy black beans; does it get any better?
Hamburger with arugula, spicy black beans; does it get any better?

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.