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Cool Classics: Automobiles of Eras Past

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More than 50 magnificent historic automobiles, dating from 1907 to 1959, will be displayed on Saturdays in May at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library.

Weekly themes are “American Pre-war Luxury Brands, from Packard to Cadillac” on May 14, “The Personal Automobiles of Ruth Wales and Henry Francis du Pont” on May 21 and “Cars of the 1950s: Winterthur Museum Opens to the Motoring Public” on May 28. From 1916 to 1969, hundreds of guests came to Winterthur for glittering social occasions hosted by the du Ponts. They arrived in a wide variety of automobiles that reflected the latest in design and fashion. These displays honor this tradition. The displays—weather permitting—are free for members and included with admission. The lectures are free for members and students and included with admission. Weekly themes and confirmed automobiles include:

May 14: “American Pre-war Luxury Brands, from Packard to Cadillac,” with a 1910 Pickard, 1927 Cadillac 314 Phaeton, 1928 Pierce Arrow Limo, 1929 Packard Opera coupe, 1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet, 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom Suburban, 1933 Auburn, 1937 Packard, 1938 Packard 1604 coupe, 1940 Packard, and a Winterthur Rolls-Royce. Hampton Wayt, an independent 20th-century design historian, will talk about “Affluence at the Wheel: An Appreciation of Luxury Automobiles from Before the Second World War.” Not all antique cars are created equal—though at first glance they may appear to be. The automobiles of the wealthy, like their mansions, were often worlds apart from those of the lowest echelons of the invention. He will explore three predominant aspects of automobile design—mechanism, comfort and style—as sought and enjoyed by wealthy car owners in the earliest decades of the machine’s adoption as a mode of travel.

 May 21: “The Personal Automobiles of Ruth Wales and Henry Francis du Pont,” with a 1918 Cadillac, 1942 Cadillac Fleetwood Model 7533 Imperial sedan, 1941 Cadillac Town Car Landau, 1940 Buick Limited 90L limo, 1957 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe de Ville, 1957 Cadillac Series 75, 1931 Buick Wagon Series 90 Model 9, 1942 Cadillac 7533F, and a 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. Gregory Landrey, the Dwight and Lorri Lanmon director of academic affairs at Winterthur, will give the last two talks. This one is called “The Personal Automobiles of Henry Francis and Ruth Wales du Pont, 1916-1969: Grand Motorcars of a Great American Country Home.”

May 28: “Cars of the 1950s: Winterthur Museum Opens to the Motoring Public” will feature a 1950 Ford custom convertible, 1950 Buick Special, 1950 Studebaker Commander, 1953 Buick Special 45R, 1954 Buick Skylark convertible, 1955 Buick Roadmaster two-door hardtop, 1955 Cadillac, 1955 Pontiac Starchief, 1956 Chrysler, 1956 Continental, 1956 Corvette, 1956 Ford Thunderbird convertible/hardtop, 1956 Mercury Montclair hardtop, 1956 Studebaker, 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1957 Chevrolet convertible, and a 1959 Plymouth Sport Fury. Landrey’s second talk, “Automobile Advertising in the 1950s, from Vogue to Sports Illustrated to Television: Selling the ‘New Look of Beauty,’ ” offers insight into the advertising of automobiles in the 1950s.

Winterthur, 5105 Kennett Pike north of Greenville, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. To learn more, call 888-4600, or visit winterthur.org.

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