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The Enzo Ferrari Museum in Italy is the perfect highlight of food and auto touring in Italy. Although the town features quaint cobblestoned streets and ancient churches, it’s known as the “Detroit of Italy” due to its automotive heritage. It’s the center of the Motor Valley where Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini automobiles, along with Ducati motorcycles, are built. Located in the Emilia-Romagna region 250 miles north of Rome, visitors can tour factories and museums related to these legendary marques.
Italians might make their foods slowly, but their cars are fast. Modena is the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari, whose bright red, road-hugging vehicles seem synonymous with the word “racecar.” Start your Motor Valley tour at the Museo Enzo Ferrari in Modena.
You’ll walk in the legendary carmaker’s footsteps at his original workshop and home (in true “live fast” style, Ferrari inherited the house at age 20, but sold it soon afterward to buy a sports car) while getting up close to the first road Ferrari ever built, a 1947 Ferrari 125 S, and over 30 high-performance engines.
Adjacent to the workshop a newer building’s striking yellow roof curves skyward, mimicking the hood of a 1950s racing Ferrari. Inside, over 20 Ferraris are displayed under glittery lights as if they were jewels in a crown, although these Italian creations are more expensive than most diamonds. A soaring Pavarotti soundtrack creates a sense of autos as art and gets you in the mood for the next stop of the day. www.MuseoModena.Ferrari.com
Even for non-opera buffs visiting the Luciano Pavarotti House Museum is a fascinating experience; sort of like Graceland with an Italian twist. The house where he lived for the final years of his life is set on a bucolic one-lane road outside his childhood hometown of Modena.
Ferrari moved production to nearby Maranello in the 1940s. There, the Museo Ferrari focuses more on performance with a dose of heritage thrown in. The visitor’s path winds its way through Ferrari Formula 1 race cars up to the “One-Off” gallery that includes Eric Clapton’s SP12EC (shown below). Make sure to enjoy the museum; the only way to see where the Ferraris are actually built is to buy one. www.MuseoMaranello.Ferrari.com
After viewing primo cars, Modena is a great place to reward yourself with a fine Italian meal: it’s the town that invented tortellini pasta and the eponymous balsamic vinegar di Modena.
Visiting the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Italy
With so much to see and do in Modena it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Fortunately there is a means of easily visiting many attractions within a few days. Discover Ferrari & Pavarotti Land is a shuttle service that whisks visitors to over a dozen sights related to food, wine, history and cars with a stop thrown in at Pavarotti’s home. More information at www.FerrariPavarottiLand.it.
The LeMay Family Collection grew out of the automotive obsession of one man, Harold LeMay. He grew up as a humble farm boy, served in World War II, then returned to Tacoma to start what became one of the largest privately owned rubbish-hauling companies in the country. When his collection topped 3,000 vehicles, it was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s “Largest Antique and Vintage Vehicle Collection.” The museum sprawls across the former home of the Marymount Military Academy, with cars and memorabilia tucked into every possible corner, including the former showers and indoor rifle range.
Tours of several of the buildings are led by knowledgeable volunteers who are passionate about cars. One of the things that make the LeMay Family Collection unique is its wide range of vehicles on display. Tucked in between the showstoppers are ordinary cars from yesteryear; it’s almost like walking across a supermarket parking lot around the year 1972. The collection doesn’t stop at cars; there are also fire trucks, wreckers, tractors, and buses on display.
In the White Building, vehicles are stacked in so tightly that some are on three-tiered racks. Despite the inconvenience of displaying them, they are exchanged frequently with hundreds of cars in off-site storage so those can be seen, too.
A Soviet-built 1974 Gaz Chaika Limousine sits next to a U.S.-made 1955 Packard on which it was modeled, highlighting the progress (or lack thereof) of the Soviet automotive industry. The Chaika was so out of style that it’s probably the only 1970s car that sported tail fins. The 1948 Tucker has a special story: It’s the one car that always got away from Harold LeMay. In a closing of the circle, his family purchased it after his death.
I’m always trying to find my first car, a 1975 Pontiac Firebird, in a museum. Here they had a ’74 and a ’76, so that was close enough to relive my glory days. TV/film cars include a 1969 Charger “General Lee” from The Dukes of Hazzard; the 1948 DeSoto Suburban Sedan that was the Cunningham family car on Happy Days; and a 1986 Cadillac Brougham that was used as a presidential limo in The American President and In the Line of Fire.
A special event occurs on the last Saturday in August, when shuttle buses take visitors a few miles to the LeMay family home; there, another 200+(!) vehicles are on display. Believe it or not, the family is still adding to the collection. NAAM member.
To see more autos that were owned by LeMay, visit the LeMay-America’s Car Museum that was created with a sizable gift of cars from the LeMay family.
Visiting the LeMay Family Collection
Number of vehicles: 500+ Highlights: 1948 Tucker (#7 of 51); 1959 Opel P-1 that set a record for 376 mpg (that’s miles per gallon, not mph); 1976 Chevrolet Vega Cosworth; 1938 Graham Custom 97. Note: For more about the Opel, go to www.376mpg.com.
Location: 325 152nd Street, Tacoma, WA 98445. About eight miles south of LeMay–America’s Car Museum.
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regularly scheduled tours of about two hours run throughout the day.
Phone: (253) 272-2336 Web: www.LeMayMarymount.org
Here’s the link for more stories about classic car museums.
It’s easy to figure out why there’s a National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio. The Packard brothers started out in Warren in 1899. Within a decade the company, known for its high-quality cars, was based in Detroit and neither Packard sibling was associated with it. But their legacy lives on in their hometown in northeast Ohio.
The museum hosts Packards built from 1900 to 1956, ranging from a 1900 Packard Model B (the second-oldest surviving Packard) through a rare assemblage of three 1956 Packard Caribbeans. (Two of which are seen at the top of this story.) A sentimental favorite is the 1941 Packard LeBaron chauffeur-driven limousine that was owned by Mrs. James Ward Packard. (Shown below.)
The 1953 Henney-Packard Ambulance (shown below) served at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. Inside there was a large medicine cabinet, lifesaving equipment and seats that converted to beds. They saw service globally by the U.S. military.
There’s an extensive collection of archives from the Packard family and the Packard Electric Company (which still exists as part of Delphi Automotive), memorabilia, and a handful of Packard marine engines. Check their schedule for annual events that include a Packard legacy weekend (devoted to the car whose motto was “Ask the man who owns one”) and a motorcycle show.
Visiting the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio
Number of vehicles: 30, plus special exhibits throughout the year. Highlights: 1900 Packard Model B (the second-oldest surviving Packard); 1911 Model 30 Detroit Fire Department Squad Car; 1927 Sterling Knight (the last car made in Warren, by a short-lived venture); 1956 Packard Caribbean Push-Button Automatic Convertible.
Location: 1899 Mahoning Avenue N.W., Warren, OH 44483. About 60 miles southeast of Cleveland.
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.
Phone: (330) 394-1899 Web: www.PackardMuseum.org
If you’re visiting Warren, there are a few attractions that may interest you. In addition to classic cars, the small town offers several sights related to a few of our key interests: space exploration and rock-and-roll.
Neil Armstrong went on his first airplane ride in Warren when he was only six years old. Bitten by the aviation bug, just thirty-three years later he was kicking up lunar dust as the first man on the moon. The airfield from which he took off in a Ford Tri-Motor is long gone; to paraphrase Joni Mitchell, “they paved paradise and put up a McDonald’s parking lot.” But in a corner of the lot “First Flight” park commemorates the historical site with a replica lunar module occupying pride-of-place in the center.
Warren must have something for commemorations with a fast-food connection. Drive just three miles southeast from the lunar landscape to a Burger King at David Grohl Alley. It’s hard to miss since it’s decorated with the world’s largest pair of drumsticks (they’re each 23 feet long) that are set up like a teeter-totter. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana and is now the frontman for the Foo Fighters. The town where he got his start remembers him with this small street that is decorated with dozens of rock-themed murals in addition to the jumbo drumsticks.
Warren is located in Trumbull County. www.ExploreTrumbullCounty.com/