Friday, May 4, 2018

More great photos of The Revs auto museum

This Hispano-Suiza stork mascot sits atop a radiator, but The Revs Institute
also has a separate collection of vintage auto mascots from lovely to absurd.
My friend, writer Douglas Kalajian, likes to joke that his wife Robyn is constantly dragging him to car shows and automobile museums. He lets on that he is just being kind to put up with this.

There's no pretense that my wife Bonnie insists on visits to car museums. But she's kind enough to put up with my interests and even plans our travels to include them. This accounts for our recent visit to The Revs Institute automobile museum in Naples, Fla.

I'd heard from Doug that The Revs impressed him when he visited. Still, I wasn't prepared for how much I'd be impressed by The Revs.

Bonnie sometimes asks me questions about the cars we see on display at museums. Occasionally I know the answers. In the case of The Revs, there were trained docents in every gallery with the real answers.

But none of them could have answered this one:

"How can you spend 30 minutes staring at one car?"

1928 Hispano-Suiza chassis cost more than a Rolls-Royce.
Well, "that car" was the chassis of a 1928 Hispano-Suiza H6C, once "arguably the world's most advanced car," according to signage at The Revs. Buyers of top-line Hispano-Suiza models provided their own coachwork. With the naked chassis on display I was able to try to identify the mechanical components.

Gorgeous combination of levers and cables,
all of them seemingly adjustable (nightmare).
I was stunned to realize that the brakes were cable operated. This enormous and very powerful vehicle relied on a system not far removed from the cable actuated drum brakes on my (small and not very powerful) Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle.

I had questions about other cars, too. What about the odd looking number painted on "Le Monstre," the boxy 1950 Cadillac that Briggs Cunningham took to Le Mans? Is it No. 2, No. 7, or No. 9 or something else? I was tempted to think this scribble might have been a bit of cleverness designed to confuse competitors.

What's with the number on this 1950 Le Mans racer?
After our visit, via email, I asked The Revs' Mark Vargas about the number. He responded:

"The '2' on Le Monstre was a stylized number popular at the time. It has no special significance in its design although it’s easy to assume otherwise."

This Porsche 911 wasn't officially ready for racing; but it won.
Bonnie examined The Revs'1964 Porsche 911, sent to the U.S. as a demonstrator, but which then turned up at the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona in the hands of a private owner. The Porsche factory team was unhappy — the 911 wasn't considered ready to race yet. But the car won its 2.0-liter Grand Touring class.

"Velox" is Latin for "swift" and this 1920 Vauxhall Velox certainly was.
In my photo the side-mounted spare wheel makes it appear that Bonnie is leaning on a 1920 Vauxhall Type E 30/98 Velox. She wasn't touching it, but this illustrates how close The Revs lets you get to cars. There are no barriers.

Considered surprisingly swift in its day, a Velox figures in the period novel "Those Barren Leaves" by Aldous Huxley. Its mild-mannered protagonist Lord Hovenden becomes daring only when his Velox tops 70.

1927 Vauxhall had two doors on the left, only one on the right and,
surprisingly, it is the back door even though the car is right-hand drive.
A long exterior brake lever alongside the driver precluds a door opening.
Bonnie pointed to the photo taken after World War II of the very 1927 Vauxhall Type OE 30/98 displayed at The Revs. The car was still competitive at Watkins Glen in 1948 thanks to upgraded brakes. The Revs describes the original mechanical brakes, operated on the rear by a "mighty" lever, as "sardine-tin drums."

"The Hispano-Suiza of the classic era was favored by gentlemen racers for its performance,
and by women for its style," signage at The Revs notes. "One paid dearly for the car."
Bonnie leaned in to see the 1928 Hispano-Suiza H6C "Skiff" (note the boat tail) by Kellner of Paris. In this era the "matchless" Hispano-Suiza chassis was the foundation for coach builders who aspired to show at concours d'elegance on the Continent.

Still another boat-tailed racer, this one a 1934 MG K3 Magnette.
Bonnie rode in my first car, a 1958 MGA. My car wasn't nearly as dramatic as the 1934 MG K3 Magnette at The Revs. A racing sports car you could buy from the MG catalog, this K3 took fourth overall at Le Mans. Unlike my little MGA, the K3 Magnette had a single-overhead camshaft straight six with a supercharger.

Long hood, cycle fenders, British Racing Green paint and leather belt around hood
mark the MG Magnette of the 1930s as a racer, and it won many contests.
Note the SU carburetor visible in a protective round form in the Magnette's supercharger fairing. The tube running from the radiator cap down the front of the radiator exhausts any overheated coolant under the car.

Bodywork bulging around the big wheel puts the driver in command.
The museum should charge to let people just sit in this car.
Look closely and you'll see that the Magnette's apparent windshield is actually just screen mesh. Streamlining, circa 1934! Only a small separate flyshield protects the driver from the wind.

We stayed at The Revs until closing time. As I was shooed out I expressed concern to a docent that my wife might still be inside.

"Don't worry," he replied. "She'll turn up when we let the dogs out."

But no need. She had stuck it out until nearly the end when she stepped outside to use her phone. Good girl.

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