Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Classic Car Museum Tour

I used to work for State Farm Insurance as a Auto Supervisor. I was asked to pull together a committee called the Stated Value Committee of car enthusiasts who either worked on collectible cars or was knowledgeable in this field. I told people then that my expertise was that I owned a lot of old cars - just not classics or collectibles!

From our Claims Department I found three fellows that all had an interest in classic and antique cars and attended shows all over Southern California keeping up with the latest trends in this field. Some were in the process of rebuilding for instance a 1940 Ford. One had a 1936 Chevrolet Coupe that was modified (not original) and he showed the car in various shows. Dave, Jim and Nelson took me to some of these shows to help educate me in the fine art of assessing value to these vehicles.

This committee ran for two years and helped our underwriters establish values for insurance purposes. We gave seminars to employees and to agents to help them in this process. This interest has grown for me as time went on and anytime I can see one of these shows or museums I’m there.

My son, Rick, went to a wedding reception at a place that actually was a Classic Car Museum owned by Lew Webb, a now retired owner of many auto dealerships in Southern California. He had about 35 classic and antique cars that were kept in running condition by Ron Hitter who works for Mr. Webb. When Ron saw Rick, he mentioned that he has seen him sing with his gospel quartet, Crimson River. That got them talking about the museum and Rick stated that his dad (me) would love to see this collection of cars since he had something to do with classic cars with his former work. Ron said, ok, let’s find a time and we’ll give him a private tour.

My birthday is April 16th and this year I reach 75 years old. So Rick got in touch with Ron Hitter and they arranged a time for our family to come and see the private collection of Lew Webb which is not opened to the public. He didn’t tell me where we were going or what was there. Just the time to be at a certain place. When we arrived, a man met me at the door and gave me a bear hug wishing me a happy 75th birthday as he had just turned 75 this year also. It was the owner, Lew Webb. We got some pictures taken and then he turned the tour over to his employee, Ron Hitter. Mr. Webb left and we went inside to see these fabulous cars. Packards, Rolls Royce, Buicks, a 1948 Tucker of which only 51 were made. This one was number 29. I took a picture of a brand new 1948 Tucker that visited my small town of Celina, Ohio in 1948. I was 14 at the time and had an Ansco box camera. That picture and story can be seen here .

Center picture -- 150 years of living. Dick Moore and Lew Webb - both 75.
Main picture - our family on a private tour of the museum.

There was a Cord, an Auburn, a Deisenberg all of which are from the same car family. Several cars that had to be driven by a hired driver and the owner sat it the back. One of those was a car owned by a movie star named Joan Crawford. Here are a few of the collection that will give you an idea of what the museum contains.

Joan Crawford's car. Driver in front - star and guests in back.

Mr. Webb’s collection also had a 1919 Model T Ford. The oldest car I ever drove was a 1913 Model T Ford and the story of that event can be seen here. Lew and his wife came to California in a 1953 Chevrolet. He has one of those in his collection. One of the dealerships he had was a Toyota new car shop and he has a couple of Toyota’s on display. One is listed as a 1935 but was really made in 1995 when Toyota brought out a remake of that special model.

1919 Model T Ford. Notice the "center" door. Only model done this way.

Ron Hitter keeps all these cars in running order and he gave me his cell phone number to call when I can come over and take a ride in one of these classics. That is something I will definitely do.

This private tour was an incredible birthday gift and to actually meet the owner was special too. Thanks, Rick, for arranging this tour.


Anonymous said...

Dick, what a fantastic birthday gift! Those are certainly beautiful automobiles that have been kept in cherry condition. It was great that the whole family could be with you and we hope you can go take some rides soon with Mr. Webb.

Happy Birthday!
Dave and Marlene

Dick Carter said...

Wow, the old antique cars were fantastic, but who are some of those geezers with the cars. Oh, sorry, that slipped out. Glad you had the priviledge of seeing and it looks like also touching them.
Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dick,
I came across your blog whilst doing a search on old cars, and I enjoyed browsing through your blog. What lovely photos.
Keep up the great work!