Take An Inside Look At "America's Car Museum"

The LeMay Museum in Tacoma, Wa shot itself to the top of many gearhead's must see list when the massive facility officially opened in early June.

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Luckily for those of us still waiting for the right excuse to visit the Northwest, eGarage put together this excellent preview of a few of the attractions at "America's Car Museum".

After getting just a glimpse of the gorgeous vehicles contained in the multi-story 165,000 square foot building, it's hard not to get excited at the prospect of seeing some of the amazing 3,000+ cars in the museum's collection in person.

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[eGarage via Autoblog]

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DISCUSSION

clarkwgriswold001
clarkwgriswold001

Don't get too excited about this fancy new museum when you watch that video. I went on opening day and was sorely disappointed. I had seen the LeMay collection in its entirety (or most of it, at least) a year or two ago when there was an open house on his properties. While he did have some gems like the Tucker, the old 40's Packards and Studebakers, etc., most of his collection is pretty run of the mill and the vast majority of the cars are very poorly "restored". I had high hopes that after spending multiple millions of dollars on a new facility to house them, that the cars would also get an upgrade. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Still, at least 2/3rds of the cars look barely presentable enough to show at the weekend cruise night. Most of them have horrible paint jobs (not original paint with patina, but genuinely shitty repaints that do not shine), terrible chrome, missing parts, etc. Many of the cars aren't even "real", but are SS clones or similar. Once you get off the top floor and the specialty ramps (the Ferrari ramp, the racecar ramp, etc) the quality of the cars goes down the tubes. In addition, because the whole place is basically a big basement the lighting is not great either. Not terrible, but certainly not good enough for a place that displays cars - objects that require precise lighting to look their best. Not only that, but because of the way the museum is laid out you can barely see a large portion of the cars. They are backed into their spots and parked door to door. This completely prevents you from seeing the silhouettes of the cars, the rear view, etc. Other than the cars on the ramps, there is nothing to set the mood or elicit a feeling of the time and place where these cars were in their element. They're just parked there on a big slab of concrete with almost no signage, murals, photos, or other memorabilia. This is a stark contrast to other museums where the cars are placed in a sort of mural, with jeeps sitting in war-torn Europe, surrounded by G.I. mannequins or 50's cars sitting at a drive-in theater. Worst of all, outside of the cream of the collection (which resides almost solely on the top floor and a few of the ramps), most of the cars are just... crap. This guy had over 3,000 cars (which has reportedly been thinned to ~1,800, though I cannot verify that) and THESE are the best they could do? There are who-gives-a-shit station wagons, a 60's Falcon with no hubcaps, TWO Deloreans (one is cool, but you didn't have anything better to put in that second spot?), a 70's Caddy that looks like it came straight from South Seattle last night, etc. Other than the collections on the ramps, everything is a mish-mash. Things are not sorted by era, manufacturer, type, etc. At least when the cars were on LeMay's grounds down south he had all the 50's Chevys together, all the 60's muscle together, etc.

If this museum wants to make a name for themselves they really need to improve the quality and presentation of the cars. Right now the vast majority of the cars are garbage that are not displayed worth a damn. Sad but true.