Towards the end of March I found myself with an afternoon to kill in Tampa Bay. Not wanting to do the usual (expensive) Sea World type stuff, I checked the flyers in the motel lobby. So while my sister-in-law and Deb lounged around the pool and got sun burnt, my brother and I drove over to the Tampa Bay Auto Museum.
What we found was a private collection of thirty-three antique or vintage cars, the theme of the collection being FWD or rear engine autos. A good number of the cars were of French manufacture, but there were also some Brits. Ever seen a BSA (of motorcycle and firearm fame) car? The collection had two, a 3-wheeler, ala Morgan, and a 4-wheeler. How about an experimental Bentley F1 racer? A DeLorean, a 1928 Alvis, an Allard, and an XKE 2+2 were also on display.
The cars were not roped off or on stands, so you can get up close. They all run and are taken out on occasion. The curator will gladly open hoods and doors for closer inspection. A short drive over a long bridge will take you to the Ybor City area of Tampa, the old cigar-manufacturing site. An afternoon of old cars and a fine smoke, what could be a better? Check out their web site at www.tbauto.com.
And speaking of checking out, in May we will have available another new book, Six Men Who Built the Modern Auto Industry.
Six Men Who Built the Modern Auto Industry
By Richard A. Johnson
2005, hardbound, 382 pages
“This is the story of a half-dozen extraordinary men who, against all odds, transformed the seemingly immutable automotive world. The automotive industry had become a mature, entrenched business with the fundamental technology and basic vehicle concepts established. Not only was it harder to change, but the risks of failure were greater than ever before. In this environment it took a new kind of genius to effect fundamental change.
“So how did Henry Ford II, Soichiro Honda, Lee Iacocca, Ederhard von Kuenheim, Robert Lutz, and Ferdinand Piech cast such long shadows? With brains, bravery, charisma, luck, vision, a gift of prophecy, and an inspired choice of colleagues. Add one more important ingredient for success: giant egos.
“In retrospect, all six men were too human and all too capable of making big mistakes. But they had breathed life into an industry that in many ways had grown stale.”