Tag: VW

Car Museum Visit

Car Museum Visit

Grand Junction, Colorado – April 5, 2013

To have our minds occupied with something other than funeral arrangements, Tyler and I paid a visit to a car museum, Allen Unique Autos.
I had noticed it on the Grand Junction visitors’ website. The museum takes its name from its owner, Tammy Allen. Before our visit, I had never heard of her, but with some 100 cars in her collection, she is a player in that arena. A little bit of research on the web revealed she had worked on the board of directors of her dad’s company, VECO. VECO was an oil pipeline service company based in Alaska. I found it interesting that the sale of VECO was to CH2M Hill, a company I have been working with at the Embassy in Georgetown.
According to what I saw on the web; many, if not all, of the vehicles, are available for rental. I am reasonably sure I could not afford any of them.
The building is on a relatively large piece of land in western Grand Junction. That allows for ample parking. The building is also relatively new; therefore, rather attractive for an industrial building.
Upon entering the facility, one can immediately tell it the maintenance is well done. The lobby area has a gas fireplace, several beautiful chairs in a seating area, the ticket desk, and several Allen Unique Autos gift items for sale. Our entry was $8 each.

Replica of a hood ornament in the lobby of the museum.Just before entering the museum, the ticket agent recommended we pick up an exhibit book. Several, one-inch thick, spiral-bound books provide details on many of the vehicles. Tyler took one for our tour.
In addition to the lobby area, the building has three other significant divisions; prime display area, the high-bay storage area, and a lounge area. Above the prime display area, there are private offices and a storage area.
When we entered the prime display area, we saw a 1938 Cadillac V-16 and a 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton. Both of them were black and polished to a mirror finish. The Cord was a very sexy car for its time, even sporting retractable headlamps. Together, those two cars are worth nearly $1 million.

A 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton.
Emblem on the trunk of a 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton.

The next car that caught our eye was a lime-green, 1950 Mercury. It was named “Wasabi” for color reasons. Oddly enough, there was a matching pair of women’s high heel shoes on top of the air cleaner. With the roof lowered by about five inches, it is very obviously a custom car. The value of this car may be between $40,000 and $50,000.

The 1950 Mercury.
How ’bout ‘dem shoes?! The power in the 1950 Mercury.

Tyler and I both spotted the skull shifter knob in the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Custom Coupe. For some reason, that skull just seemed to scream “muscle car!” I think this one weighs in at around $40,000.

A skull shift knob in a 1969 Chevrolet Camero Custom Coupe.

The silver 1940 Ford Sedan Deluxe was a real eye-catcher too. The lines seem to be so classic. Like all of the other vehicles, this $25,000 car was polished to a mirror finish.

Detail of the V8 in a 1940 Ford Sedan Deluxe.

Next was the 2008 Dodge Viper Hurst at around $76,000. It is another of those extreme muscle cars. It is a beautiful car, but as I get older, I have to wonder if I could get in and out of such a low-slung car. I don’t know; I guess if I could afford the car I could probably afford to hire someone to help!
The silver 1940 Ford Sedan Deluxe was a real eye-catcher too. The lines seem to be so classic. Like all of the other vehicles, this $25,000 car was polished to a mirror finish.

The wheel on a 2008 Dodge Viper.

Another of the many muscle cars was the 1999 Shelby Series 1. The price of $90,000 to $100,000 is just one more reason why my vehicles are of the “flabby” variety, not the “muscle” variety. Quite frankly, I don’t remember seeing this particular model before.

The hood on a 1999 Shelby Series 1.
The power in the 1999 Shelby Series 1.

The last vehicle we looked at in the prime area was the 1963 JFK Pontiac Bonneville Ambulance. It was the car used in Dallas to transport JFK’s body back to Air Force 1. I know it is a piece of history, but it did not do much for me. As such a unique vehicle, I have no idea of its value in today’s market.

The 1963 JFK Pontiac Bonneville Ambulance.

We walked out into the storage area. We were stunned at the number of cars. Many of them, with the help of car lifts, were stacked two-high. By far, the vast majority of the cars in her collection are housed here.

The cars were stacked two-by-two in many areas.
The top left is a 1937 Ford Wild Rod Pickup.

We walked out into the storage area. We were stunned at the number of cars. Many of them, with the help of car lifts, were stacked two-high. By far, the vast majority of the cars in her collection are housed here.

A rear fin on the 1957 Elvis Cadillac.

A favorite of mine was the 1947 Cadillac Custom Woody Wagon. I thought it was some excellent craftsmanship. That was a very cool looking car. It is probably valued at $50,000 to $60,000.

Side detail of the 1947 Cadillac Custom Woody Wagon.
Detail of a wheel on the 1947 Cadillac Custom Woody Wagon.

I was reminded of my uncle JR when I saw the 1957 BMW Isetta 300, a $40,000 to $50,000 car. He used to have one when I was a young boy. It was impractical on several levels; it has only three wheels, just two seats, and the entire front of the car opens as the only door. Even with all of those faults, it is still very sought after by collectors.

A 1957 BMW Isetta.

The driver of the 1938 Buick Brewster Town car Sedan got the short end of the stick. While the passengers rode in comfort in the enclosed rear cabin, except for the windscreen, the driver rode in the elements. Regardless, it is an elegant car and, at $60,000, rather pricey too. However, even pricier was the $900,000 1933 Chrysler Imperial CL Sedan. Unfortunately, the only part of that car I photographed was the hood ornament!

A 1938 Buick Brewster Town Car.
The driver compartment of the 1938 Buick.
The spare tire on the 1938 Buick.
Detail of a 1933 Chrysler Imperial CL Sedan hood.

By far, one of the unique vehicles was the 1956 Messerschmitt KR175. It is a three-wheeled cross of a car and a motorcycle. I had not heard of these before. With something around $50,000, I could have taken it home.

A 1956 Messerschmidt KR175.

Another car I remember fondly is the 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T. If only I had purchased one back in the day, I could cash it in for some $80,000 today!

Detail of the 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T.

Other vehicles I liked and my price estimates:

  • 1953 Ford F-100, $35,000
  • 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, $100,000
  • 1928 Ford Model A, $25,000
  • 1962 Jaguar XK-E, $100,000
  • 2007 Rolls Royce, $300,000
  • 1934 Ford Model 40
    The hood emblem on a 1953 Ford F-100.
    A 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible.
    Side view of the 1928 Ford Model A.
    The interior of the 1928 Ford Model A.
    A 1928 Ford Model A hood.
    Detail of a 1962 Jaguar XK-E.
    A 2007 Rolls Royce hood ornament.
    A 1934 Ford Model 40 custom roadster.

    Detail of the 1934 Ford Model 40 custom roadster.

For those keeping track, I have listed 21 vehicles at a total approximate value of nearly $3.2 million. I shudder to think about what the cost of the entire collection might be.
I would recommend this museum to all car lovers.
A few parting photographs follow.

The front end of a very rare 1954 Nash-Healy Hardtop.
The white Hummer limousine.
The black Hummer limousine.
A 1953 Ford F-100.
Looking down the row of automobiles.
“Let’s be Friends.”
“Let’s be Friends II.”

Tunis Seminar

Tunis Seminar

Tunis, Tunisia – December 14, 2010

This trip marks my first time ever on the continent of Africa!  I am here to attend training on pest control at the embassy.

When I arrived at the airport it was dark, so it was very difficult to get my bearings.  An expediter from the embassy met me and helped me through immigration.  Once through, we collected my luggage and went to the car.

He drove me to the Ramada so I could check-in.  My room, 3138, overlooks the pool area. I can hear the Mediterranian Sea in the background. It is now about 21:30 and I am completely beat. I got up this morning at about 02:30 to catch my flight in Madrid, so it has been a long day.  My journey began early because I had to fly from Madrid to Paris.  In Paris, I had several hours layover at the airport before I could board my flight to Tunis.

Home away from home in Tunis.
The hotel swimming pool as seen from my room.
A sample of the local currency.
Relaxing with a glass of wine and a small snack.

My first full day was spent at the training. It was an interesting day. There will definitely be some things I can take back to Madrid to use there. On the evening of that first full day, we went to the restaurant Le Golfe. The name means “The Gulf’, referring to the Gulf of Tunis. The dinner was delicious. I had medallions of beef with two sauces; one, a brown pepper sauce and the other more of a white sauce. I topped it all off with an orange and lemon sorbet. The dinner was about 50 Tunisian Dinar, somewhere around US$35.

The swimming pool in the early morning.
The hotel swimming pool.
Pedestrians crossing as we drove to the embassy.
Morning traffic.
Driving to the embassy.

The training the next day was on the road.  Instead of sitting in a classroom at the embassy, we went as a group to several homes in the city to look at specific pest issues and learn how to mitigate them.  Periodically, we were able to stop to take in some of the local sights.

A roundabout with a mosque in the background.
A sign for the Tunisian Academy of Sciences.
The building housing the Tunisian Academy of Sciences.
Fishing in the Mediterranian Sea.
A feral cat.
Looking to the northwest along Avenue de la République.
Trees at the end of Avenue de la République.
A very calm Mediterranian Sea.
Ruins at Antonine Baths in the Carthage section of Tunis.
A tourist shop across from the Antonine Baths.
Some of my classmates looking over the items for sale.
At the Antonine Baths looking toward the Presidential Compound.
A wall at the Antonine Baths ends at the Mediterranian Sea.
A panoramic view of a portion of the Antonine Baths.
Many types of footwear for sale across from the Antonine Baths.
Another tourist shop near the Antonine Baths.

On that second day, after the seminar, my friend Gary and I went to the Carthage Museum. It was very cold that afternoon, but the museum was very interesting. The city the Carthaginians built was a real marvel for its time. Apparently, it so threatened the Romans that they came in and literally destroyed the town. Even still, the ruins were fascinating.

The house of the son of the President of Tunisia nearing the end of construction.
Looking east across the Gulf of Tunis.
The back of a tiled bench.
The Harbor Sidi Bou Said as seen from an overlook. The east side of the Gulf of Tunis is in the distance.
A frog or toad near the sidewalk.
Some flowers growing near a wall.
A beautiful bloom
A typical door in Tunis.
Yours truly posing by the door.
Same door, same yours truly.
A staff member looking out of a door.
Three amigos in Tunis for training.
The class photo.
A poinsettia plant.
A unique flowering plant.
A palm tree at the top of the stairs.
A very red Mini Cooper.
A hand-stenciled, wooden license plate.
Detail of a typical home in Tunis.
A garden statue.
Yet another garden statue.
The instructor sharing methods to deal with mosquitos.
Detail of a palm tree.
A Tunisian flag flying near the Carthage Museum.
Remains of columns at the Carthage Museum.
One of my classmates at the Carthage Museum.
Ruins of a Carthaginian city dating from as far back as the seventh century B.C.
The ruins are known as Byrsa Hill.
Another view of the ruins.
View toward the Carthage Museum.
Domes of the Acropolium of Carthage.
Detail of a mosaic.
Detail of a mosaic II.
Detail of a mosaic III.
A statue at the Carthage Museum.
A second statue.
A mosaic floor from an ancient building.
Posing with a very large head.
Posing with a rather large head at the Carthage Museum.
A map of the Mediterranian at the height of the Carthage influence.
A model of a portion of the city.
An artist’s rendition of what the Carthaginian city may have looked like.
Detail of a mosaic outside the museum.
Detail of a mosaic outside the museum II.
A panoramic view from Byrsa Hill.
Portions of columns.
The Acropolium of Carthage, a musical venue.
The entrance for the Carthage Museum.
A souvenir shop closed for the day.

When we were through, our friend Jim came to the museum to pick us up and take us to his home for dinner.  On the way to his home, he drove us through the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial.  Interred there are hundreds from the North Africa battles of World War II. It was a moving sight.

The many graves at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial.
A statue at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial. The inscription reads, “Honor to Them That Trod the Path of Honor.”
An inscription at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial. It reads, “Here we and all who shall hereafter live in freedom will be reminded that to these men and their comrades we owe a debt to be paid with grateful remembrance of their sacrifice and with the high resolve that the cause for which they died shall live.”

While I was at the training, Leslie’s birthday came and went.  As part of my gift to her, I had my classmates write a birthday wish to Leslie.  The only catch was that the wish had to be in their native language.  I thought it turned out well.

Birthday greetings are written to Leslie in several languages.
Birthday greetings are written to Leslie in several languages, page 2.

On the way home from Tunis, I did not have to go through Paris.  I had a direct flight from Tunis to Madrid.  At just a little over two hours, that made the return journey much more tolerable.

This trip really taught me to have a “plan B” set up whenever I travel. Just a week or two after departing Tunis, the Arab Spring riots began. Jim, the same man with whom we had dinner after our museum visit, had his wife and children evacuated out of Tunisia because of the unrest. At one point, he had a tank sitting in front of his house for several weeks.  I am very happy I was able to get out of the country before all of this trouble began.