The current dismal news about the challenges being faced by the auto industry made my trip to see the classic cars from the Nicola Bulgari collection at America on Wheels all the more compelling. 

Quick "local" side note: Bulgari stores a portion of his collection in a warehouse in Allentown. And since he believes that "cars are made to be driven," all of them are driven, often around Lehigh Valley, PA.

Now, back to the exhibit.

Eleven cars, built between 1931 and 1941, are on display as America on Wheels' current changing exhibit; however, this represents a mere portion of Bulgari's collection. Here are some highlights from my visit:

  • 1936 Hudson Custom 8 Series 65 Convertible (pictured) - my favorite, although it’s a challenge to limit it to just one. The color, trim and pop up wing windows demonstrate just how well-designed this car is. And the flashy yet functional bumpers made me realize how cosmetically simple today's cars are compared to those of the 1930s.
  • One of 7,200 LaSalles that were manufactured by hand in nearby Fleetwood, PA (a surprise to me) is on display. 
  • 1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Dual Cowl Phaeton - a convertible with a Straight 8 384 cubic inch engine, I consider this to be the most ornate car in the exhibit.
  • 1935 Nash Ambassador Sedan - a big car with plenty of legroom and height for those taller folks, something you'll be hard-pressed to find in a modern car.
  • 1940 Supermodel 59 Estate wagon - formerly owned by Bette Davis; it was given to her after it appeared alongside her in several movies. 

You really need to see these vehicles up close to get a sense of the elegant design that once made the U.S. auto industry great. I say, bring back vehicles with flair and verve like these and we will see a resurgent auto industry. 

Think you'll go see this exhibit at America on Wheels? (It runs until October 15!)