Okay, let me set the stage for you… if you have an inkling of interest in vintage cars from the 1930’s, love the styling of French Art Deco in any form, put the Mullin Automotive Museum on your must see list right now. Write a note, send yourself a reminder, do whatever you must to insure you do not forget this. It is an unforgettable experience. Recently I visited the special exhibition on through June 2013, La Vision de Voisin, an exploration of the vision and creations of Gabriel Voisin, an unsung hero of automotive design. It kind of started with this book, which was my birthday gift last year. Yeah I know, a book? A book about cars? No Louis Vuitton or Chanel whatnots for me, no jewelry or fashion, I asked for a book, this book. I am enamored with the Avion Voisin as well as other cars from the 1930’s and French design from this period. Those curves, dazzling details and elegant style rocketed car design into the stratosphere.
Fast forward to January 2013 while I was attending the Cavallino Classic (Ferrari) event in Palm Beach… there is a cool back story before I get to the museum. I was sitting by myself, at The Seafood Bar at The Breakers, getting ready to participate in a chat on Twitter when a lovely couple came and sat down next to me. We struck up a conversation, they were there for the same event but he was driving some vintage Bugattis on track day. (Oh wow, I’m in the presence of someone who actually owns some French Blue horsepower, tingle tingle.)
The conversation continued and I mentioned the above book and how I loved the Avion Voisin. “He wrote the book, ” said the humble, yet stylish woman seated next to me.
Great, just because I read a book doesn’t mean I have a clue who the author is… I didn’t. I’m also really bad with names, your car I’ll remember.
We continued to enjoy a lovely conversation about cars, lucky for me the recall portion of my brain was working really well on this day and we exchanged an appreciation of Avion Voisin design. I mentioned being thrilled seeing the Avion Voison win at Pebble Beach in 2011. This was their car. (Okay, now I am actually speaking with someone who not only had a car at Pebble but won! I’ve got pictures of it. Hopefully I wasn’t drooling.)
I’m an observer, rarely do I meet such interesting people. I could go on, but I’ll leave it as it was an impressionable meeting.
Back to the book Vitesse – Elegance, one of the contributors of this elegantly written book covering early aviation and a spectacular collection of French cars was enthusiast Peter Mullin of the Mullin Automotive Museum. The Mullins are owners of an unparalleled collection of classic French cars. Peter and his enchanting wife, Merle were kind enough to meet my husband and I at the Museum last week for a personal tour; the same charming couple I had met in Florida. The tour starts with a short film to remind one just how important Gabriel Voisin is and was to aviation, automobiles and design. Did you know Gabriel Voisin was one of the pioneers of manned flying machines and opened Voisin Brothers – Aircraft in 1906? He made many contributions to science and technology which have been forgotten by modern history books. In 1899 he and his brother produced their first car. Remember the movie Sahara, with Matthew McConaughey? This is the coveted Voisin he pilfered from the bad dictator in the movie, a recreation of a Voisin Type C28. Bet you thought you had never seen one. 🙂 The distinctive hood ornament or mascot was not a favorite of Voisin. His customers would not allow him to replace it, although he did modify it throughout the years. My favorite is the streamlined 1934 Voisin Type C27 Aerosport which I first saw at Meadowbrook in 2010. There isn’t an inch on this car which is not designed, though only two were ever built. There is something about having the vision to add this aluminum (I think) finish detail along the edge of the base of the car. Another surprising element is the vacuum powered sliding roof which allows one to feel like they are cruising along in an open top. Notice the complete departure in style of the 1934 Voisin Type C27 Roadster. Same year, same inner workings, but this car was sold as a bare chassis and bodied by renown Italian coachbuilder Joseph Figoni. Of the 17 Voisin automobiles on display, the most ever together in modern times, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Best of Show wining 1935 Voisin Type C25 Aerodyne takes center stage. Peter’s eyes offered glint of paternal pride when reminiscing about the amazing win. A four door never wins. A sedan never wins. This Art Deco inspired curvaceous profile reminiscent of an airplane wing oozes symmetrical style. From this angle you can see this car sports a sliding roof too.
In the interest of time, I’m going to split the Voisin exhibit into two posts which will continue next week. Seriously, I could go on and on about both the cars and the Mullins. If you are ever in the Los Angeles area be sure to allow yourself time to venture up to Oxnard to saunter through the Mullin Automotive Museum. This is a museum to visit again and again. At the very least get the book, one of three fabulous Mullin Museum automobile books.