Murphy Auto Museum – Oxnard, CA (USA)

Those looking for an automotive museum in the Los Angeles area are most likely to head off to the Petersen Museum, situated in the “Museum Mile” area on Wilshire Boulevard, just on the fringes of Beverley Hills. If asked for a second such museum in Southern California, many would, after some scratching of their heads, or resorting to a bit of Google assistance, come up with the San Diego Museum. Both do indeed house fine collections, and are well worth a visit. There are reports on both already on “TheMotor”.  Today, I have been exploring a couple of lesser known collections, and will make separate reports on each. The Murphy Auto Museum is located in Oxnard, about 5 minutes off the Ventura Freeway (Route 101), and as you draw close, it is hard to miss, as there is the side profile of a red 1950s Oldsmobile attached high up on the wall. The museum houses about 80 cars, owned by about 35 different individuals, but its conception and continued existence owes almost everything to a gentleman called Dan Murphy, a retired neuro-surgeon from the area, who wanted other people to be able to enjoy some of the classic cars he had acquired over the years.

His museum was originally to be found in Ventura, but a combination of the need for more space, and a lower building rent saw a move to nearby Oxnard a few years ago. The museum is only open at weekends, and has no explicit admission charge, though there is a suggested donation of $9.00. I was more than happy to pay that, as there were plenty of delights in the museum for me to enjoy. Oldest car represented is this 1903 Oldsmobile “Curved Dash”. Over 6000 of these cars were produced, and many survive, so they are quite a common sight. This particular vehicle was driven from San Francisco to New York – no mean feat when there were no paved roads for a large part of the journey and the car had to go on the railroad tracks. However, it successfully completed the distance, and Oldsmobile were so impressed that they asked to buy the car back so they could strip it down to see what state it was in. They were delighted to find that all components had withstood the rigours of the journey.

Displayed in the foyer area along with the Oldsmobile is a 1927 Model “T” Ford Pickup. Very much the workhorse of its day, these cars were tough, and the survival rate is high – perhaps not entirely surprising given so many were built in the first place!
The next car is one in which the museum takes great pride, a 1927 Packard 343 7 passenger touring car. This huge, and beautifully finished car cost almost $4000 when new, which was a lot of money, and was almost too expensive even for pre- Great Depression America, and few were sold. This particular car took part in the annual Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena in 2006, a great honour for car and driver, and bears a special plaque to commemorate the fact.
A 1907 Durocar. Not a marque I had ever heard of, but it turned out to have been a short-lived venture by 2 Los Angeles men to build cars, and this was the result:
A 1917 Marmon Model 34 Cloverleaf Roadster
1947 Crosley. A small number of these cars were made, with the hope that they would prove popular in post WW2 America, but they were generally felt to be too small, and were not successful. The pickup is particularly rare:
One of my favourites, this, a 1957 Fiat Multipla. This tiny car really could seat 6 people, in 3 rows of seats, and if the rearmost 2 rows were not in use, they fold into the floor, very much like the system used on a Zafira or a Chrysler Voyager!
1960 Chevrolet Corvette
1967 Jaguar “E” Type 4.2
1959 Jaguar XK150S
Porsche 928
Porsche 911 Turbo
1968 Corvette Stingray
An earlier, 1963 Corvette Stingray
A rather unrestored Mustang, dating from about 1969.
A rather more recent Corvette:
1955 Ford Thunderbird
1915 Ford Model “T”
1939 Bantam Pickup. These were produced by the American Austin organisation

1932 American Austin Roadster
Series 3 Jaguar “E” Type
1930 Ford Tudor
1927 Willys-Knight
1951 Bentley Mark VI
One of the more recent vehicles, a W124 Mercedes CE Coupe
1961 Cadillac 62 Coupe
1961 Cadillac Coupe de Ville
1958 Lincoln Continental
1959 Cadillac – this was the year when the fins reached their most extreme!
1956 Lincoln Continental
Imperial LeBaron
1953 Bentley Type “R”
1929 Buick Doctors Coupe
1914 Ford Model “T”
The first love of the museum’s founder and owner is for Packard, and there was a whole section of the museum called “Packard Alley”, featuring several different cars from this well regarded marque
1929 Packard Roadster
1928 Packard Dietrich 443 Rumbleseat Coupe
1934 Packard V12 Club Sedan – widely regarded as one of the best models that Packard ever produced
1937 Packard V12 Club Sedan
One of the last Packards, a 1955 Caribbean Convertible
1951 Packard Patrician 4 door sedan
1948 Packard Custom 8 Touring Sedan
1941 Packard 160 Club Coupe
1954 Packard Convertible
1952 Chevrolet Suburban – this was a sizeable vehicle even in those days!
1951 Ford “Woodie”
1948 Ford “Woodie”
1929 Ford Model “A” Woodie
Oldsmobile 88 Sedan
Ford F100 Pickup
1957 Chevrolet BelAir – lowered a bit and slightly customised, as is the case with so many of the 57 Chevys
There were also these three custom cars
Chrysler Windsor
1936 Chevrolet
1961 Ford Thunderbird
Early Ford Mustang
1928 Marmon Indy Pacemaker – one of 12 cars created to celebrate the use of the Marmon as pace car
1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner – complete with metal folding roof
1930 Durant 614 Roadster
A small grouping of “muscle” cars was to be seen, too:
1969 Dodge Charger R/T
1970 Dodge Challenger
1972 Chevrolet Pickup
1969 Plymouth Roadrunner
1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst – one of only 400 cars produced, and they were all in this rather dubious shade of beige
1953 Riley RMF
BMW 850CSi
Definitely worth a visit!
More details on the museum can be found at:
2009-12-16 11:06:46

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