Monday, April 9, 2018

My Royal Enfield 'One Ride' To the Dezer auto museum

Imposing 1935 Cadillac V-12 Town Cabriolet, probably one of only two built.
Where did you ride your Royal Enfield on One Ride day Sunday?

With my wife occupied by a meeting of her book club, my Royal Enfield and I were free to go someplace she would never care to visit:

A car museum.

I'd visited the extraordinary (extraordinarily unusual) Dezer Auto Museum in Miami,  but they've recently opened a Fort Lauderdale Auto Museum in my hometown. I'd never seen this local museum before and, fascinating to me, it houses Dezer's Microcar Collection, my favorite vehicles.

The Fort Lauderdale location also also has its share of Dezer's Movie Cars, Roaring '30s cars, and Military Salute Collection.

Concealed folding jump seats make this a seven-passenger car.
The Fort Lauderdale location is at 5300 Powerline Road. Wide and straight, with few stoplights, Powerline was lightly traveled this Sunday morning. My Royal Enfield Bullet was in fine spirits.

It was a bit off-putting that the auto museum is located inside the Xtreme Action Park, one of those cavernous indoor playgrounds where the clanging of video games and opportunities to work off some energy seek to attract the young.

I paid my $10 admission fee (that's half price, because I am a Florida resident) and a young staff member guided me to the far corner of the facility, where the museum is located.

The Cadillac's wire wheels are concealed behind accessory wheel discs.
Fortunately it's quiet in the museum. In fact I seemed to be the only visitor present. There were plenty of cars to look at — many I'd never heard of — which is the strength of the Dezer Collection.

The weakness is that they are stuffed in tightly, with many of the microcars up on shelves where they can not be fully appreciated. The cars are roped off, making it difficult to get a clean photograph. Do people who visit automobile museums really not know to keep their hands off the cars without the reminder of ugly barricades?

Republic RC-3 Seabee seaplane, as flown by James Bond in "The Man With the Golden Gun."
Signage on cars at the Dezer varies from informative to non-existent. A frequent flaw is that you often can't be sure if the car you're looking at is real or a replica.

Of course this is not the actual Porsche in which James Dean died, for instance. But there's nothing to warn the casual visitor that it's not.

Tiny bottom rudder steered the Seabee in the water. Republic thought
pilots trained in World War II would want to keep flying after the war
but that market didn't pan out.
Still, for anyone with a notion of what they're looking at, these cars are marvellous. The variation in scale is astounding. The leap from one-seater European microcars to mammoth American cars of the 1950s is almost beyond comprehension.

In fact, the Dezer Fort Lauderdale is probably one of the few places on earth where you can size up a Citroen 2CV near an Austin mini. Visually, the Citroen lords it over the little Mini.

Even when gross or wildly impractical, all these cars are tributes to human creativity and invention. And many are beautiful. I hope you enjoy my photos.

Immense 1959 Dodge Custom Royal was typical of American cars of its day.
Garish Custom Royal would look even larger if trim didn't decorate all that sheet metal.
1942 GMC DUKW "Duck" amphibious military truck looks fresh
from the invasion beaches. It's 31 feet long!
The Duck displays an appropriate bird insignia.
1958 David microcar built in Barcelona, Spain.
Streamlined hood is its best feature.
Elaborate grille encloses only the single front wheel.
Classy shift quadrant takes up much of the dashboard.
The David proves microcars could be classy.
Note the trailing link rear suspension.
Pair of Berkeley sports cars of the 1960s.
Red is four-wheeled; green is a three-wheeler.
Some had Royal Enfield twin motors, but these two didn't.
Note the single rear wheel on this Berkeley. Surprisingly,
the four-wheelers were introduced first. The three-wheelers
came along late in production to take advantage of motorcycle registration.
Lots to see at the Dezer Fort Lauderdale museum but too many
of the microcars are displayed on shelves above eye level.
Attractive Isetta bubble body is way up near the ceiling.
And what is this? Tasty micro sports car is unlabeled.

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