April 3, 2009
Bulgari Collection Brings Automotive Elegance of a Bygone
Era to America On Wheels
Allentown, PA - The automotive elegance of a bygone era
rolls into the America On Wheels (AOW) museum of over-the-road
transportation this month with almost a dozen antique classics
that reflect the class and passion of Italian jewelry designer
From a 1931 Buick Model 91 Club Sedan to a 1940 Buick Super
Model 59 Estate Wagon that starred in movies with James
Cagney and Bette Davis, "The Bulgari Collection, Automobiles
of Elegance" offers classic car enthusiasts and other visitors
a glimpse at an era when cars were big, powerful and majestic.
"The Bulgari Collection, Automobiles of Elegance," debuts
at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 11.
"We are thrilled and honored to be able to offer this wonderful
exhibit to our visitors. It offers a unique opportunity
to see the golden era of automobile transportation, when
cars were becoming more and more a part of the American
way of life," said AOW Executive Director Linda Merkel.
"What a wonderful way to kick off our second year," Merkel
continued, noting that AOW will celebrate its first anniversary
on Saturday, April 18 in a birthday celebration that features
a variety of unique events and activities.
Bulgari, scion of the Italian jewelry empire and a lifelong
American automobile enthusiast, said his love affair with
General Motors' vehicles began in his childhood in postwar
Rome. The Buicks, Packards and Cadillacs then owned by the
rich elite made a powerful impression on the young man and
triggered a lifelong passion for American cars.
"My collection of American cars, which includes the 1938
Buick 90L Vatican escort car for Pope Pius XI and two Cadillac
limousines used by Cardinals, symbolizes my passion for
preserving history and for sharing, values instilled in
me by my wonderful parents," Bulgari wrote in a 2008 anniversary
note to General Motors. "Nothing gives me more pleasure
than sharing my cars, whether it be at a museum, concours
or my collection, to reunite Americans with the proud heritage
of General Motors and the American automobile industry."
Today his large collection is permanently housed in garages
in the United States and Rome. The exhibit, part of the
Changing Gallery that recently hosted the "Legends of Speed"
and "Muscle Cars" before that, includes:
1932 Buick Model 91 Club Sedan
Inline straight eight cylinder engine, three speed manual
transmission. This car is in original/ unrestored condition.
It is the largest series in the line for 1932. Featured
only this year, the ride regulator system controlled the
valving at each shock absorber, allowing the driver to adjust
the ride quality. This car sold new for $1,820.
1932 Cadillac 370B Imperial 7 Passenger
370 cubic inch V-12 cylinder engine, three speed manual
transmission.Formerly from the Browning Estate (Browning
Guns). This car is in original/ unrestored condition, with
its hand-cranked division window and rear fold out jump
seats intact. Selling new for $3,995, the V-12 Imperial
was strictly for the discriminating buyer. The Fisher-bodied
Imperial Sedan transported its passengers in regal style.
The car was designed to be either owner-driven or chauffeur-driven.
As was the standard for the era, the front seat chauffeur's
compartment was upholstered in black leather with the rear
seat done in a fine wool material.
1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Dual Cowl
Coachwork by Lebaron
Straight eight engine with 384 cubic inches, four speed
manual transmission with ultra low first gear This is car
#77of 85 built, with only 6 original cars surviving today.
This Dual Cowl Phaeton body by LeBaron was of the semi-custom
line. With technical advances including hydraulic brakes,
hydraulic shocks, and four speed transmission, the '31 CG
Imperial offered a level of advance design and luxury never
before associated with Chrysler. A truly timeless, elegant
1936 Hudson Series 65 Custom 8 Convertible
L-head Inline straight eight cylinder engine, three speed
manual transmission, 120 inch wheelbase This car is a fine
example of a super Art Deco design with center mounted dash
cluster, disappearing wing window assemblies, electric shifter
on column, and very low windshield line. The standard equipment
found only on the Custom Eight series includes the large
wheel covers, a banjo style steering wheel, a radio with
under-the-running-board antenna, and a cigar lighter. This
Convertible Coupe also sports various optional equipment
including fender mounted parking lights, an electric clock
and the "Electric Hand" vacuum-electric transmission control
system. This is one of only six known survivors.
1939 Packard Super 8 Convertible
Inline eight cylinder engine rated at 130 hp, three speed
manual transmission. This car has been completely restored
to factory specifications. The Super 8 series was the mid-range
Packard with the V-12 being the Senior and the 110 and 120's
being the Juniors. This two door, four-passenger configuration
has two "opera" seats in the rear. New this year was the
column shift called "Handishift". It sold new for $1,878.
3,962 cars were produced this year.
1935 Packard Model 1207 V-12 Coupe
V-12 engine, three speed manual transmission. This car is
in original/unrestored condition. Bought new by Ann Klein
family of New Holland Farm Equipment fame. Ann learned to
drive in this car when she was 18 years old. 1940 Buick
Super Model 59 Estate Wagon Inline straight eight engine,
three speed manual transmission. This particular car was
one of only 495 Estate Wagons built by the Biehl Body Company
of Reading, PA. It eventually found its way to the Warner
Brother's Studio in Hollywood. It appeared in such films
as "George Washington Slept Here," "White Heat," and "Now
Voyager." When the studio was finished with the car, it
was reportedly given to film star Bette Davis, and has been
linked to her ownership ever since.
1936 Chrysler Airflow C-9 Sedan
A 323 cubic inch inline straight eight engine, three-speed
manual transmission, 123-inch wheel base. This car is all
original except for the interior. This radically-styled
and technologically advance Chrysler sold new for $1,345.00.
Only 1590 C-9s were built of the 71,295 Chryslers produced
1934 LaSalle Series 50, Model 350 Aero
240 cubic inch straight eight engine, three speed transmission.
This car is completely original. Harley Earl designed this
aerodynamic themed, one year only bi-plane bumper car, which
was a major hint of the direction General Motors would take
at the end of the 1930's. All 7,218 LaSalles were hand-built
in the Fleetwood Body Factory in Fleetwood, PA. With the
entire LaSalle line selling for under $2,000 for the first
time, the coupe sold new for $1,595.00, a reflection of
the effects of the Depression.
1941 Buick Roadmaster Model 71C 4-Door
Inline straight eight engine, three speed manual transmission.
This car is completely restored. Roadmaster was the top-of-the-line
Buick and there were only 312 of these models produced.
Notable features include its leather appointed interior,
roof mounted antenna, and valve in-head engine with compound
carburetion. This car is a rare example of Buick's commitment
to design elegance and performance.
1935 Nash Ambassador 8 Sedan
260 cubic inch straight eight overhead valve engine, three
speed manual transmission. This car is completely restored.
The all new "Aeroform" design bodies featured all-steel
construction. "Flying Power" was the new name for the twin
ignition system and lightweight engine parts derived from
airplane manufacturing. This car's has "Automatic Cruising
Gear", known today as overdrive. The Ambassador 8 Sedan
was the highest priced car in the Nash line, selling new
For More Information:
Linda Merkel - Executive Director
America On Wheels Museum
5 N. Front St. Allentown, PA