After Hobbo had finished his talk and was setting up for autographs, I took a quick wander around the main floor of the museum. Some exhibits were gone to make space for the presentation but there were still plenty of cars on show. Things have been rearranged since my previous visit which I wrote about here. I knew that time was tight for me and I would need to go but I did get a few shots of some of the cars before calling time and heading home.
The David Hobbs talk wasn’t the only thing going on at Blackhawk when I was there. Prior to the presentation, there had been a gathering of Ferraris and Alfa Romeos in the parking lot. I didn’t realize that this had been planned so I turned up for the opening hour of the museum and was surprised by the cars outside. I did spend a few minutes wandering around and checking out some of the Ferraris. As an 80s kid, I couldn’t help being attracted to the Testarossa. What a beast of a car. The others were cool too. Many of them look better but something about those side fins is cool. This one had mirrors on both sides. I always loved the large single mirror fit but I guess you don’t see many of those.
I made a visit to the Blackhawk Automotive Museum on a Sunday morning. They had a speaker booked and this one was David Hobbs. Hobbo has been announcing motorsports on US TV since the 70s and is part of the current NBCSN Formula One team. His talk covered both his days as a racer and his time in TV and he was obviously a popular choice. The place was packed out. They were suggesting there were three times as many people as they had ever had before.
The initial seating was not enough. They brought in flip out chair and then any chairs they could find to try and get a seat for everyone but some ended up standing throughout. It was not short either as he has plenty of anecdotes to work with. Timing was a bit “flexible” in the end. Hobbo has a habit of saying stuff on air which might make the network a bit nervous and his public speaking is an extension of that. I watched a few people flinch at some of the language he threw in but most people seemed to be lapping it up – me included.
After the talk and the Q&A, he posed with a GT40 based Mirage in the collection that he had raced at Le Mans. Then he set up to sign autographs and memorabilia that the audience had. A line formed that stretched across the foyer and beyond. I imagine the museum did well out of the event and it was a great way to spend a Sunday morning.
I have had a few visits to Cars and Coffee over the last few months. Plenty of cool vehicles to check out and justify getting up early on a Sunday morning. This time I figure I will just share a bunch of pictures of what has been there. Of course, these are but a small fraction of the total number of cars appearing but they caught my eye.
While the majority of the Blackhawk Automotive Museum’s collection has a clear car association, there is also a room dedicated to the history of the Jukebox. I imagine this is because it is an area of interest to the patron of the museum. Various ages of jukebox have been preserved and restored. Some are quite basic in their design while the more recent ones have a greater level of complexity.
What they all seem to share is a design aesthetic that goes beyond the functional requirements of playing the music and encompasses a glamorous level of styling. The newer they were, the more exotic the styling. It might not be my sort of look and I don’t think I would want one in my house but I can certainly appreciate the effort that went into the design.
If you are going to have a museum to cars, why not include a tribute to the thing that makes them go? While fuel itself is not terribly suitable for an exhibit, the pumps that provide it prove to be a surprisingly good idea. Blackhawk Automotive Museum has a bunch of different gas pumps from through the years on display. They are all restored to pristine condition and probably look far better than they did when they were new.
The pumps cover a number of years and a variety of gas companies. The evolution of the pump designs is quite clear as you go through the years. I am not sure I fully understand how they worked but they seem to have involved filling up a clear vessel at the top of the pump with fuel. This filling process allowed you to work out exactly how much fuel was to be provided. Then, when the amount was worked out, the hose would allow you to drain the fuel down to the vehicle.
The early versions seem to be quite simple in layout and, as the years pass, the systems seem to become a bit more complex. A modern pump is way more complex but also severely lacking when it comes to styling. These old pumps look like they had some artists involved in styling them and the colors of the companies were similarly intricate. I guess that is how things worked in those days. Now efficiency, maintainability and functionality will win out over style.
These days you will struggle to come across a car that has not undergone extensive aerodynamic optimization. Even those cars that look like they have deliberately avoided an aerodynamically efficient shape will actually have undergone considerable testing to make sure that they are not just relatively low in drag but that they are also stable at speed. The widespread appreciation of aerodynamic performance became apparent in the 80s with the introduction of various cars that had noticeably lower drag than their competitors and associated improvements in fuel consumption.
However, the 80s was not the first time that aerodynamics occupied car designers. Go back a long way and you will see some very interesting shapes on cars. Some of these were looking to emulate the space age looks that were popular at the time. Others were real attempts to reduce drag. Blackhawk has a collection of three Alfa Romeo models. These show the iteration of design to try and achieve very low drag. They don’t look anything like a modern car and have more of a Jetsons appearance. However, they are a fascinating look at how some car designers were thinking at the time.
Obviously modern cars don’t resemble these machines which suggests their approach was not the best way to go. They also look like they would have been expensive to manufacture. What they do show is the willingness to push the envelope. It is great that they are still around for us to check out and see what was seen as cutting edge at the time.
Aston Martin is not a company that has varied the styling of its cars significantly over the years. There are several shapes that have formed the basis of their designs but they have been quite effective at making the most of a concept. This is not a criticism in any way. There are few cars from the company that I haven’t liked although some have worked better for me than others. However, when compared to other marques that have had a wide variety of styles and designs in a given timeframe, Aston has been quite simple with its approach.
Consequently, it isn’t tricky to recognize the Astons on display at Blackhawk. The models on show are some older types but they are some good looking machines. One of them is a racing model which has a slightly more aggressive look to it. They had variations on the green that Aston is known for. I suspect a couple of my family members would like to have seen them!
I am certainly partial to a modern Ferrari. In recent years, Maranello has turned out some really gorgeous looking cars and I wouldn’t mind having the chance to play with one or two of them if the opportunity were to present itself. However, if you go back in time, they came up with some cars that, for their time, were really quite special. It is this vintage of Ferrari that you find in the Blackhawk Automotive Museum.
The variation is styles is quite marked. Some are simple looking roadsters but you also have some touring cars that, without a badge might not be obviously a Ferrari to those who are not experts of the marque. The choice of colors for some of them is also a little different from what you would see now. There are a number of cars in the main exhibition area but there are also a couple that are in the entrance foyer to the museum. I guess Ferrari is a brand that has earned to be given a prime spot in any collection.