Le May America’s Car Museum

Visiting LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington.

America's Car Museum in Tacoma showing main entrance and building

Easily recognized from Interstate 5 in Tacoma, Washington, America’s Car Museum houses just a portion of the Le May family car collection. Harold LeMay collected over 1,500 cars and his family continues his legacy with most of the collection housed in an historic location nearby. America’s Car Museum is a non-profit entity which displays many of the original LeMay collection. Vehicles are rotated in themed events for the museum.

Image of the famous twin driving lights centered in the grille of a 67 Mustang GT500

It was awesome to see one of these close up and personal. In 1967, Ford produced just over 2,000 GT500 Shelby Mustangs. Each was fitted with a 427 cubic inch V8. The aluminum intake mounted two 600 cfm four barrel carburettors for a power output of 355 hp and a staggering 420 lb. ft. of torque.

Having special fiberglass hood and front end body trim, this Shelby weighed just on 3,200 lbs. With all that power and torque it was one mean-spirited pony!

Eleanor Mustang - GT500 Shelby with fiberglass body panels

A Duesenberg sat silently in one of the many halls at LeMay. Produced nearly 40 years earlier than the Shelby Mustang in 1928, Duesenberg’s Model J. This luxury muscle car from the years just preceding the great depression had a 265 horse power straight 8 cylinder engine with advanced technology for the era. The engine had 4 valves per cylinder and twin overhead camshafts. This top-of-the-line luxury car of the time could achieve 119 mph.

Duesenberg Model J in brilliant red

Buying a rare sports car was a little different then. You had to purchase the motor and chassis from the manufacturer and select a coach builder for the body and interior. With the basic frame and motor starting at $8,500, the final vehicle would cost up to $19,000.

Hand built dashboard of the Duesenberg Model J

A 320 horsepower version of the same straight eight engine was developed a few years later by adding a supercharger. The marketing slogan of the time was: “The only car that could pass a Duesenberg was another Duesenberg—and that was with the first owner’s consent.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Image of 1957 Packard four door

Further down the LeMay halls and fast-forward 20 years from 1937 to 1957, this Packard also packed some performance for the time. Unassuming by current-day standards, this Packard Clipper had a 289 cubic inch V8 with a healthy 275 horse power due to it’s supercharger. It is interesting to note that Packard had actually ceased production prior to 1957. This was actually a Studebaker built with a Packard Clipper nameplate. The supercharger was developed by famed chainsaw and lawnmower engine manufacturer, McCullough.

Closeup image of supercharger fitted to the engine of 1957 Packard Clipper four door sedan

(Below) Chrysler produced this radically designed 300F in 1960 with a massive 413 cubic inch ‘Cross Ram’ V8 producing a huge 375 horse power and 495 lb ft of torque.

Chrysler 300F 413 cubic inch cross ram

Chrysler 300F from 1960 with Cross Ram induction

The ‘Cross Ram’ induction system held individual four barrel carburettors for each opposing bank of cylinders and contributed to the massive torque output.

LeMay’s museum is one of the best laid out displays. The themes change regularly and you quickly see how easy it is to take in every vehicle by moving in one direction.

The floors are stacked four high and cars are lined either side of the halls. Ramps connect each floor. Moving along the right side of vehicles will take you down the ramp to the next row on the floor below. Each ramp also has vehicles displayed in themed groups. Once you have seen all the vehicles on the right hand side of each floor, you are at the bottom floor. You easily follow the arrows to view all the vehicles on the opposite side, using ramps to wind your way back up to the entrance.

Visit the LeMay America’s Car Museum website here: https://www.americascarmuseum.org/

Location:

2702 East D Street
Tacoma, WA 98421

PHONE – 253.779.8490  |  TOLL FREE – 877.902.8490

See more about the LeMay family legacy and the location of the rest of their car collection here:
https://www.lemaymarymount.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Author: Alan O'Neill

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