• Mar 5, 2010

1939 Delahaye 165 V-12 with coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi

As if classic car fans in California weren't spoiled enough with the annual festivities in Monterey, world-class concours in Palm Springs, La Jolla, Dana Point, Palos Verdes, and Pasadena, and first-rate museums like The Petersen and Nethercutt Collection, another incredible collection is being opened to the public this spring. Set to open April 15 in Oxnard, California, the Mullin Automotive Museum is the anchored by the vehicles of Pebble Beach-winner and Monterey Historics racer Peter Mullin, and promises to be another must-see attraction.

According to the press release you'll find after the jump, "the Mullin Automotive Museum will pay homage to the art deco and machine age design eras (1918-1941) that produced exquisite art and magnificent automobiles." The centerpiece will be a huge collection of unrestored Bugattis, but expect to find other iconic brands like Delahaye, Delage, Talbot-Lago, Voisin and Hispano-Suiza, with an emphasis on French cars with coachwork by masters like Chapron, Figoni et Falaschi, Gangloff, Vanvooren, Labourdette, Letourneur et Marchand and Saoutchik among others.

The museum will also feature art and furniture from that era and an entire floor devoted to "Club Bugatti." Besides being home to 100 of the most gorgeous flowing designs of all time, the Mullin will also house some less beautiful but equally significant vehicles including 30 unrestored cars and a whole roster of Grand Prix and Le Mans cars. So if you're in the area, be sure to stop by. Until then, follow the jump for the full press release.

[Source: Mullin Automotive Museum | Photo: Michael Furman Photography]
Show full PR text
Mullin Automotive Museum to Open its Doors in Spring 2010

New Southern California Institution Celebrates Art Deco and Machine Age Design Eras

Oxnard, Calif. (2010) – The Mullin Automotive Museum, a facility that will pay homage to the art deco and machine age design eras (1918-1941) that produced exquisite art and magnificent automobiles, will officially open its doors for the first time in the beach community of Oxnard, Calif., Spring 2010.

The dramatic facility will be a three-dimensional celebration of the pre-World War II Belgian/French decorative arts movement, long described as Art Deco. Sharing the more than 50-thousand square-feet of exhibit space will be one of the finest collections of coach-built automobiles, furniture and art from the Deco era.

A display of more than 100 historic French cars is planned to include examples from Delahaye, Delage, Talbot-Lago, Voisin, Hispano-Suiza and of course, Bugatti, wrapped in voluptuous forms from the iconic coachbuilding ateliers of Chapron, Figoni et Falaschi, Gangloff, Vanvooren, Labourdette, Letourneur et Marchand and Saoutchik, among others. And, while his work was exclusive to the cars created by his father, Jean Bugatti was among the best designers of his time and will also be well represented, along with the art of his sister, uncle, father and grandfather.

Next to the Pebble Beach Concours winning automobile restorations, will be displayed 30 unrestored art treasures. They are the core of the collection purchased by the Schlumpf brothers, industrialists of the Alsace region of France in the early 60s. Their goal was to bring all the Bugattis back to where they had been created. Their enormous collection of French cars is now called Musée National – Collection Schlumpf.

The remaining collection, called "The Reserve Collection" is made up of the renowned American sportsman John Shakespeare's collection, purchased by the Schlumpf brothers along with other French classics. Peter Mullin recently purchased that complete collection and will exhibit 30 of his favorites in as-found condition before a 90-foot diorama of the barn in which they were discovered. This remarkable juxtaposition will also illustrate the work required to make a barn-find car into an award-winning showpiece.

On the nearly 11-thousand square foot mezzanine is planned another exhibit of French classics from the less sensual Grand Prix and Le Mans sports-racing school of design including Gabriel Voisin's incredible "Laboratoire" experimental racer. They will be shown in a pre-WWII Le Mans track and racing pit diorama to give viewers a sense of the casual atmosphere once enjoyed by the racing elite.

"Club Bugatti" will share the second floor. Here we will be encouraged by Mr. Mullin to remember that the Bugatti name and its creative gene predated and paralleled the famous Ettore, so reverently chronicled in the automotive world. The family art exhibit will include priceless furniture created by Ettore's father Carlo near the beginning of the last century, bronze sculptures by Ettore's brother Rembrandt and elegant pastels and charcoal drawings by Ettore's daughter, Lidia. The entrance to the Club will be around a freestanding wall containing a set of Carlo Bugatti's splendid doors.

The science of the Twenty-first Century will protect the art of the Twentieth. A well-integrated green power supply and supporting insulation will create an interior climate carefully tuned for preservation. In that atmosphere, the priceless restorations and fine art pieces will cease measurable age.

An elevator will rise from the main floor through the mezzanine to a roof deck and garden. Art deco waveform grilles surround the elevator mechanism. The elevator tower includes a staircase and will double as a photo gallery illustrating Parisian life during the "Belle Époque." The rooftop view will include the green discipline of the 21st century facility. The roof itself is sealed in thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) with heat-welded seams. The surface is so white and smooth, its manufacturer states it will reflect 20% of the solar heat away from the interior. An array of photovoltaic panels collects the area's nearly uninterrupted daytime access to solar power and a set of ducted-turbine generators makes use of the steady ocean breeze. Their design will actually advance the deco theme above the museum's entrance. Below them, the entrance is shaded by an Eiffelesque iron portico supporting dozens of tinted windshields that looks both period correct and apropos collections within.

Mr. Mullin would like the collection to be known as a museum of the art deco period. The mature forms of that new design language were established by "l'Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes" (1925); dubbed Art Moderne for many years then Art Deco by a journalist in 1960. That concise description has survived half a century. In spite of the best efforts of a devoted connoisseur of Arts Décoratifs Modernes, it will likely be the Arts Industriels that will raise emotions and make memories - it will be the cars.

Swiss sculptor Max Bill described the convergence of fine and industrial art of the period; "Whether he like it or not, those who create new forms succumb to the influence of modern art...Comparison between an automobile and the sculpture of its time will show how close the relationship is between works of art and the forms of useful objects." Contemporary designer Philippe Charbonneaux describing Figoni's work said, "...very much an artist...a master of curves and elegant lines." Even the connoisseurs in Britain could not resist colorful commentary. As auto enthusiast and noted aficionado Sir Peter Ustionov suggested: "One drives, of course, an Alfa Romeo; one is driven in a Rolls Royce; but one gives only a Delage to one's favorite mistress." Sir William Lyons, father of the sweeping forms of SS and Jaguar cars, described the classic French work as, "positively indecent."

The Mullin Automotive Museum
1421 Emerson Avenue
Oxnard, CA 93033
www.mullinautomotivemuseum.com
info@frenchcurves.org


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 5 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Forward motion, rendered in steel. Nice.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's just an achingly beautiful car. I so wish design was that important these days. Imagine if a modern luxury brand came out with something like this - forget faux-retro, really recreate a classic design like this with modern underpinnings and I'd buy one.

      Maybe I just need a better kit car...something that rides on a Lexus instead of a mustang or beetle.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You forgot to mention the Blackhawk Motor Museum in Danville which also house a fantastic collection of cars. Everything from the earliest Cadillacs to JFK Presidential limos. Very cool spot.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There won't be a touchscreen in the house...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow a car like that almost looks better standing still than moving.