The Simeone car museum in Philadelphia, properly known as the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, is a hidden gem stashed away in a former engine remanufacturing facility near the Philadelphia airport. Despite its low profile, it won the prestigious “Museum of the Year” award in 2011 at the International Historic Motoring Awards, and in 2014 it was awarded “Car of the Year” for its 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe. (see below)
The museum owes its existence to the passion of one man, neurosurgeon Fred Simeone. Over the course of a half-century he’s collected over 60 of the world’s greatest racing cars, all of which still run. Come for the popular twice-monthly “Demonstration Days,” when you can watch some of the cars get taken for a spin on the 3-acre back lot.
One of the oldest vehicles here is a 1909 American Underslung (shown at the top of this post and above) that raced in long-distance events. “Underslung” is a reference to the chassis which is “slung” under the front axle. The large wheels were sized that way to raise the car to overcome obstacles. The American Underslung was produced by America’s first pure sports car company.
Other cars are displayed according to where they raced (Watkins Glen, Bonneville Salt Flats, Brooklands, and more) or by the races they entered. Among them are Le Mans, the Targa Florio in Sicily, and the Mille Miglia. With so many sleek Italian racing cars on display, the museum sometimes looks more like a modern sculpture gallery.
The 1921 Duesenberg French GP Race Car is a sister car to the one that was driven by Jimmy Murphy in the 1921 Le Mans for the first American victory in an international race. NASCAR is well-represented, with cars ranging from a 1938 Ford Coupe to a 2002 NASCAR Dyno Mule.
Visiting the Simeone Automotive Foundation Museum
Number of vehicles: 65+ Highlights: 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe; 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B MM, which won the 1938 Mille Miglia and is Dr. Simeone’s favorite.
Location: 6825 Norwitch Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19153. If you have a layover at Philadelphia International Airport, it’s only a five-minute taxi ride to the museum.
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last entry at 4:30 p.m.); Saturday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last entry at 2:30 p.m.).
Phone: (215) 365-7233 Web: SimeoneMuseum.org