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Great Collections Tour is Great
by Tom Hall

     We named this tour the Great Collections Tour and that name fit well enough, but maybe we should have called this the Unusual Collections Tour, or the Automotive Rarities Tour, because there were some weird and wonderful things to behold.
     Our day started in a light industrial area north of Carson. A number of people accepted the invitation to arrive fashionably late, but by 9:30 we had a good turnout. The long distance award, if we had had one, would certainly have gone to Jerry Morrissey, who came over from Arizona. Perhaps the journey was worthwhile; we saw three unusual collections.
     At the first stop, Ron and Dave Simon welcomed us to Cornwell and Sheridan, the name of their collection and rental business. There is hardly a spot on the walls of this warehouse which isn’t covered with some sort of car or airplane picture. The airplanes range from early biplanes through World War Two, at least, and include a mural of B-17s. On a lift was a gorgeous cream-colored 1940 Plymouth convertible which was in Ed Wood (about a young director and friend of Bela Lugosi’s). Toward the back of the same room was a seven-cylinder Continental engine ¾ not a chunk of a Lincoln V-12, but a radial engine used in the M4 Sherman tank. To one side of it was Professor Fate’s submarine from The Great Race and to the other side was a ’59 Biarritz in the middle of restoration. One focal point was a very stylish ’38 Bentley with one-off saloon body by Van Vooren of Paris. It looked about a quarter Bugatti. Across from that was a ’34 Ford which hasn’t reached 40,000 miles yet and still wears its first set of tires. There was also a rare ’42 Oldsmobile B-44 five-passenger coupe. In the other room were lots more cars and airplane memorabilia, including a Stinson 108 hanging from the ceiling with no skin.
     Dave Simon is experienced in lending cars to Hollywood. He says that if you take your eyes off your car for even five minutes, something bad may happen to it. The prop riggers have little respect for the cars and are likely to try to attach something, like a camera or duct tape, or they may decide something doesn’t look right and do something about it, as when they scraped some tinting film off someone’s door window. Dave also says that music video producers pay little or nothing to have cars appear in their work, while movie and commercial producers may pay pretty well. He provided one of the Rolls-Royces in the Grey Poupon commercial. Evidently, antique cars are even in demand for pornographic movies.
     One of the Simon cars that was out for the day (and for the last five years) was Professor Fate’s car from The Great Race. It is still on loan to the Peterson. This prop is a six-wheeled bad guy car that was driven by Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk. It can make a smokescreen and the body can rise like a scissors jack. The car has no shock absorbers.

It’s also far from street legal, with no taillights, bumpers, or license plates. When Dave took this whimsical vehicle for a slow spin around the block one day, what should appear but a police car. The cop just waved and drove away….
     A two block walk from the Simon collection was another bunch of unusual cars. When was the last time you saw a right hand drive ’48 Mercury converted in Australia to a pickup truck? When was the last time you saw three Ford Anglias in one spot? Two Henry Js? When was the last time you saw a Fiat Topolino? Or a Goggomobile? Or a car being driven by two aliens and which had two monster engines? How about an Alvis that may be zooming down the drag strip one day? The Scott Tupper collection was definitely not your father’s Oldsmobile.
     Then we headed to the Tucker collection a few miles away. One room of the Tucker home is a doll museum. Pat sells and repairs dolls. One of her prized pieces is about three feet tall and wears an expression of indignation. I’ve never seen a doll like it before, and since it was one of a hundred made, I probably never will again. Pat also has a child’s player piano featured in the F.A.O. Schwartz catalogue for Christmas 1950. In the living room is a pool table, a barber chair, an exotic jukebox, and a big model of a railroad club car.
     Mr. Tucker is helping to preserve station wagons of the sixties, with a cute black Falcon and a ’60 Pontiac. He also seems to like Jaguar roadsters.
     Near several Jaguar grilles hanging from the ceiling like bats in a cave, the diabolical Gerald Krumm and his henchman, Jim Webb, plotted to gain control of the world with a big red console that had gauges all over it. Their conspiracy ended when the control panel turned out to be the forerunner of a Sun automotive diagnostic center.
     Outside, in its original cardboard carton addressed to John Dannenfelser was a NOS 1947 Cadillac grille. It is a great education in factory quality. It’s still new, but it’s not a 100-point piece and never was; there are some ripples and waves in the chrome. As Gary Falasco observed, the factory did not build 100-point cars. (So why should we?)
     Mr. Tucker also has several prewar motorcycles, including a fine ’41 Harley. The Tuckers’ collection of signs looks like it has been in the making for fifty years. There probably are not many motor oil signs that the Tuckers do not have.
     It turned out to be incredibly easy to get seated at Tony Roma’s for lunch. About 25 people stayed with us for this last stop.
     Tony Hiller arranged this excellent tour for us. Considering the perfect weather, out-of-the-ordinary collections, good food and good fellowship, it would be very easy to get spoiled by an event like this.

Dennis Copeland shared his ‘49 Series 62 convertible with us.

Don Zig brought his 1947 Fleetwood 75. You’ve heard of the Caddie that zigs. This belongs to the Zig that Caddies.

This is the rear of Tony Hiller’s ’47. Not much interchanges between Tony's and Don's ’47s.

Members and guests enjoy the Tucker’s back garage.

Calvin Jones’ 1954 Coupe de Ville. This hood has its roots in the 1941 model year.

This ‘47 at the Tucker Collection is a mostly untouched original. Examples like these tell us how much luster was in the various black paints under the hood, how the factory stitched the seats, and other valuable details.

Left to right: Dave Simon, Tour Director Tony Hiller, Ron Simon.

Photos courtesy of Michael Dubos


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Date Last Updated: October 21, 2017
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