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Enjoy the Ride

There's Pleasure in Cars in Every Seat

Andy Bogus - January 16, 2014 10:00 AM

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Lance Cryan, John Ackerage and Jason Cavenaugh are getting ready for a ride in the 1937 V-12 Packard Dual Cowl Phaeton. “It’s like sailing! It is so quiet, smooth and refined,” Lance said.    

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Lance Cryan, John Akridge and Jason Kaplan on riding in the 1939 Cadillac: “The Packard was nicer,” they all agreed.  

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A hood ornament from an Auburn. They don’t make art like this just for art’s sake.

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This 1930 Stutz Monte Carlo is actually covered in a fabric material, not metal. It is exceptionally rare. This car has a straight eight with 16 valves, but there were versions that had 32-valve heads. 

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The yellow 1955 Packard 400 is still wearing its original paint. It has been worn thin in places, but is in rather good overall condition.  

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The blue 1940 Deluxe was part of Packard’s transition to series production. In the early 1930s, they were doing cars one at a time, and only making about 10,000 per year.   

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The Studebaker Golden Hawk served as the basis for this 1958 Packard Hawk. (Packard was done in 1958, Studebaker in 1966.) The lovely burgundy Packard next to it is a V-12 car. Even indoors, when running, if it wasn’t for the belt wash, you would never hear it.  

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On loan from the Petersen Museum, a real live Tucker Torpedo! The car was very advanced and, with a little bit of luck, Tucker might have just pulled it off.  

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This is the showroom. It is a mock-up of a luxury car showroom from the 1930s. This room is generally off limits due to the rarity of the cars. The first car in line is a 1930s Plymouth, but with a town car body. The car was once owned by the Roosevelts, and Mrs. Roosevelt (Eleanor) used it at their Hyde Park, New York, estate.  

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Here are two time travelers. There’s a 1916 Packard runabout (foreground), with a twin six (V-12), 90 horsepower engine that must have been a hoot on the early byways of America. The green Packard, now restored, is owned by the museum’s historian, Bob Knee. It was a barn find.

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This is not an orphan, but it is significant. It is a 1938 Buick Limited Series 80 Opera Brougham, which was built in Paris by Fernandez and Darrin. Darrin, in this case, is the famed car designer, Howard “Dutch” Darrin. His work can be found on Packards and Kaisers, just to name a few.   

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Riding. You could call it the act of not driving, I guess. Riding in cars is cool and can be relaxing.

The Automobile Driving Museum (ADM) may sound like the emphasis is on getting behind the wheel, but that’s only part of the experience.

Riding around in cool old cars makes the ADM a most unique museum. Every Sunday, excluding holidays, they take three different cars out of the museum for rides around the immediate area of the corporate park.

Nestled away in an Art Deco building in El Segundo, California, ADM sports a collection of about 150 cars. At any given moment, 75 will be on display in the main showroom with another 40 or so in the Hot Rod and Muscle Car Annex. The ones not displayed are either in restoration, storage awaiting restoration or on loan to other museums. The ADM doesn’t own every car. A few are generously on loan from respected collectors and patrons or passing through on their way to other collections.

The ADM was founded in 2007 by two old friends who had rather large private collections. Stanley Zimmerman and Earl Rubenstein were becoming “mature collectors” and wanting to preserve the collection. They decided they needed to do something, and since selling their collections was not an option, they trusted it and created the non-profit museum.

The basic concept of the museum is to preserve orphan cars with emphasis on early classic Packards. Orphans are cars whose parent company has either been bought out or otherwise failed. Think Packard, Studebaker, Overland, Oldsmobile, De Soto, Edsel, Pontiac, Plymouth, Nash, Hudson, Durant, Stutz, AMC and Pierce-Arrow. There are a few that are interesting non-orphans, vintage Lincolns and Cadillacs, among others as well.

There is even a Delorean. Sad to say, the flux capacitor is in the shop right now.

On this particular day, the cars being driven were a 1955 Rambler, a 1939 Cadillac limo and a 1937 Packard V-12 Dual Cowl Phaeton.

In the weeks after, scheduled cars included a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a 1932 Packard 900 Coupe, a 1959 Edsel Ranger, a 1951 Nash Statesman, a 1957 Lincoln Premier Convertible and a 1947 Pontiac. The schedule is subject to change for weather or other circumstances.

Another unique aspect of the museum is the docent staff. The docents are charged with taking members on tours of the museum. After proper training, the docents also drive the cars on Sundays and to shows and events. Former lead docent and currently the special events coordinator Dick Croxell said, “I’ve seen the ADM grow from a small garage operation with 40 cars to a world class automotive venue with over 140 classics and special interest cars. ADM’s success is due in part to the vision of Stanley Zimmerman and Earl Rubenstein and the high quality, dedicated docents that are the heart and soul of the museum.”

In addition to all the museum fun, ADM is also a full-featured event facility, hosting everything from holiday and birthday parties, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs to car shows and pinewood derby races. Docents are on duty for events, providing the party-goers with answers to questions about the cars in the collection.

About the museum

The Automobile Driving Museum is located at 610 Lairport Street inEl Segundo. Phone (310) 909-0950 or go to www.theadm.org. The facility is very close to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and is easily accessed from the 405 Freeway (I-405) via the 105 Freeway (I-105), or any number of surface streets in the El Segundo/LAX area.

Admission is by donation and the museum is open Tuesday through Friday for tours by appointment only and open weekends, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Rides are offered on Sundays only with the last ride leaving at 3:30 p.m.

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