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By Larry Edsall
Back to ClassicCars.com Community

What does $100 million mean to the Petersen?
By Larry Edsall

Larry Edsall at ClassicCars.com On April 26, the Petersen Automotive Museum announced that the foundation established by its founder, Robert E. "Bob" Petersen and his wife, Margie, will donate an additional $100 million to the institution. The gift includes the buildings that house the museum on Los Angeles' Museum Row, the Petersens' collection of 135 classic vehicles, cash and more.

"I am fulfilling a vision that Mr. Petersen and I shared and planned to do someday," Margie Petersen said in announcing the gift. "I am so happy I can launch the museum into a new era of growth and expansion."

That growth and expansion doesn't mean a new building in a new location. As Chris Brown, information and marketing manager for the museum noted in an interview with classiccars.com, the museum's location at Wilshire and Fairfax is the third-busiest intersection in Los Angeles.

However, he added, many people drive right past without knowing what's inside. One of the projects planned is to enhance the museum's visual appeal -- outside and inside. Outside that likely means an enhance facade, inside it means new and expanded displays. The hands-on art and science area on the third floor will be renovated. A new automotive library and archive will be created. New vehicles will be added as well.

"This opens some opportunities for us," Brown said. "It secures out future."

Instead of leasing its building and the adjacent parking structure, the museum now owns them.

The gift also puts the museum in better position to seek additional donations, of cash and cars.

"Anytime a non-profit can prove it's a viable entity and is going to be around, it's more likely to get additional donations," Brown said.

But while looking forward to ways to use the gift, Brown added that the museum will not forget its roots, its role not only as a car collection but as an education institution.

For example, the museum will continue a program started by Margie Petersen to pay for buses used to bring 8,000 students to the museum each year from grade and high schools that cannot afford to fun field trips.

"Our goal isn't to turn every kid into a gear head," Brown said. "It's just to get their brains working on creative things and to become inspired. Maybe it's a story of somebody who started a car company or the science of one of the processes of manufacturing."

Visiting the Petersen, he said, "It's just a day off school. We want them to go back with new information and inspiration."

RM assembles museum-quality showcase
Not that the Petersen is going to rush right out and start spending millions on cars to add to its collection, but it could do worse than to have someone bidding at RM at the Concorso d'Elegance Villa d'Este event May 21 in northern Italy.

The catalog for that sale just arrived and it includes a group of cars seemingly any museum would be proud to display: the 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante coupe that won best-in-show at Pebble Beach in 1976; six one-of-a-kind Bertone concept cars; the 1965 Ford GT40 factory prototype roadster; the Figoni et Falaschi-bodied 1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS teardrop coupe that won best-in-show last summer at Meadowbrook; a Saoutchik-bodied 1935 Hispano-Suiza J12 cabriolet de ville; the only surviving 1954 Aston Martin DB 2/4 competition spider -- and the only one with bodywork by Bertone -- a 1938 Cadillac Sixteen town car stored for many years at the Vatican. All that and more, including seven fabulous Ferraris.

Barrett-Jackson clarifies reserve consignments
After six years of no-reserve bidding with its guarantee that every car that crosses the block will sell, Barrett-Jackson re-introduced consignments with reserves on a limited basis at its recent Palm Beach event. Now, the 40-year-old auction house has shared its plans for reserve consignments for its next three events.

At Orange County in June, reserves may be set on cars with a "minimum estimated value" of $200,000. That figure grows to $250,000 at Las Vegas in September, and to half-a-million dollars next January at Scottsdale.

"While we are happy to provide a level of security to some who have asked for the reserve model, Barrett-Jackson's no reserve format continues to create excitement in the auction arena." Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO, said in a news release.

Some consignors of more valuable vehicles are reluctant to let their cars cross the block without the safety net of a reserve price, a secret minimum bid known only to the owner and to auction house officials and below which a vehicle will not be sold. Barrett-Jackson's resumption of accepting reserve consignments on a limited basis is a way to attract those consignors and their vehicles.

New event at Hershey
The Elegance at Hershey is a new event on the classic car calendar. Actually, make that events, because the schedule include a re-running of the historic Hershey Hillcimb on June 11 for vintage (pre-1959) racers, including nearly two dozen pre-World War II cars, and a concours d'elegance featuring some 60 cars at the Hotel Hershey on June 12. For details, visit www.theeleganceathershey.com.

Fairfield concours looking for barn finds
Organizers of the eighth annual Fairfield County concours de'elgance, scheduled September 18 at Westport, Connecticut, are looking for barn-found vehicles – cars and motorcycles -- for a special featured class at the event. Entry deadline is June 15 through the www.fairfieldcountyconcours.com/barn website.

'Best Dam Garage' is gone
Fire has destroyed what remained of the legendary "Best Dam Garage in Town," the place in Daytona Beach, Florida, where Smokey Yunick worked his magic in the early days of NASCAR stock car racing. Yunick established Smokey's Garage in what formerly had been a Laundromat. In addition to the shop where Yunick built race cars for the likes of Fireball Roberts, Marvin Panch, Herb Thomas and A.J. Foyt, Yunick's complex grew to include research facilities for automakers and parts suppliers who sought his engineering expertise.

'An Evening at the Hotel California'
That's the theme for the annual musical performance that's part of the Corvette Funfest at Mid America Motorworks in Effingham, Illinois. The date is September 17 and the entertainer is Don Felder, four-time Grammy winner, Rock N' Roll hall of famer and former lead guitarist for 27 years for the Eagles and the writer of Hotel California.

'29 Lincoln best-in-show at La Jolla
Thomas Russell's 1929 Lincoln Limousine won best-in-shows honors at the seventh La Jolla (California) Motor Car Classic concours d'elegance.

Click here for event calendar.

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