There is just too much to share with you to put my Mullin Automotive Museum visit into one post, so this week is part two. I’ll take you beyond the special La Vision de Voisin exhibit into the land of barn finds and some Bugatti history. The Museum is the creation of Peter Mullin and his lovely wife Merle.
From Peter’s fascination with French automobiles he has amassed an unbelievable collection of some of the most outstanding cars every produced. Yes, I am still floating on air from listening to the wonderful car stories graciously told by the Mullins as well as their right hand at the museum, Ruby. She is an amazing resource. Based on historic pictures of the Paris Auto Salons from the 1930’s, the interior sets the stage for the wonderment of French Supercars from days gone by. This 1937 Peugeot 302 DS Darl’Mat Cabriolet is a prime example of Peter’s depth of research and attention to detail. Originally part of the 60 – odd cars he purchased from the famous Schlumpf Collection of over 600 automobiles hidden away by the Schlumpf brothers for many years and the subject of much speculation, books and museums. The barn find of all barn finds. (More on the Schlumpf Reserve Collection at the Mullin in a moment.)
This Peugeot was, for lack of a better term, a faltering rust bucket when Peter first laid eyes on it in a barn in France. The 302 DS was a more aggressive model of an earlier Peugeot envisioned by Emile Darl’mat and produced by Peugeot to be competitive at LeMans with Delahaye, Delage and Bugatti.
I first became enamored with this car on the lawn at Pebble Beach and those spectacular air vents in the hood. But was even more intrigued when Merle explained the difficulty driving such a car because the gas and break pedals were only inches apart. Another interesting tidbit is the seat is literally on the floor, flat against the bottom, no open area for your legs to fall like seated in a chair. Your legs are splayed flat out against the carpeted floor. Not my idea of a long range touring or race car. Next to the Peugeot on the front line is the 1948 Talbot Lago T26 bodied by Saoutchik, also seen at Pebble Beach. Known for its 124 mph estimated top speed this is one of 12 built in 1948. It has spectacular curves, but not my favorite of the Talbot cars. Then there are the Bugattis. Every car has a story and we were mesmerized by each one. Did you know in terms of transportation the Bugatti lineage started life as a carriage builder? How I love a two tone car, and this gray and black 1931 Bugatti Type 50 s predecessor to the grand Bugatti Royale and double the price of a Type 46, fits the bill. Back to the Schlumpf brothers collection. A portion of the collection stored in the Alsatian villages of Malmerspach came up for sale after much bruhaha over who owned what and what the French government could get its hands on. Peter had just 72 hours to make a decision with the caveat that the purchase was all or none. The background picture on the wall was what Peter encountered when he arrived. All lined up, un-restored and in questionable working condition. A portion of these are on display as found. Very cool. Have you ever heard the story of the Bugatti in the Lake? This is it. A rare, make that super rare, 1925 Bugatti Type 27 Brescia Torpedo which was plucked from the bottom of Lake Maggiore in Switzerland after 70 years at the bottom. It is quite interesting to walk around the car. The side emersed in mud is well preserved while the other side much more eaten away. When they got the car back to California there was still oil in the engine compartment.
This is still just a snippet of our visit to the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California. I will say it again, if you love cars, go. This is belongs on the bucket list of any car aficionado. To be up close and personal with such automotive splendor, gives me goosebumps… still. Yes, I’ll go back again and again. The Mullins rotate the collection so be sure to check their website to see what is coming up for your visit.