Mullin Automotive Museum – Oxnard, CA (USA)

The Mullin Automotive Museum opened in April 2010, and generated more than a little publicity, as finally businessman Peter Mullin had a place where he could display many of the stunning French classic cars that he had acquired over many years. Located in Oxnard, California, the museum is housed in what looks like an industrial unit which formerly housed the Otis Chandler collection of muscle cars and bikes. When Chandler passed away, the cars and bikes were sold and Mullin bought the building. Four years later, the fruits of a massive revamp by architect David Hertz resulted in a splendid display, perfect to show off the classic and racing cars contained within.About half of Mullin’s cars are on show at any one time, and all of them are in full mechanically working order. Cars as priceless as these do get loaned out for special exhibitions and displays and are often the star of glamorous events such as Pebble Beach. Indeed, one of the showpiece cars was the overall winner at the 2011 event, and I had been reading all about it in an in-depth article in the November 2011 issue of Octane magazine on the flight just the previous day. This is the 1934 Voisin C25 Aerodyne, a truly magnificent machine indeed, created when sales of Voisin had started to fall, and its eponymous founder decided to try a new direction. It was certainly that, and the car stood out as distinctly different when launched at the 1934 Paris Salon, and it looks different now. Mullin bought this car in 2005 and it has just completed a massive restoration task, even though the starting point was a largely complete car. Whether you like it or not, you have to admit that the overall resulting is stunning.

Spread over 2 floors, with the upper gallery reserved for cars with a racing pedigree, there was lots to delight me as this report will evidence. With the exception of the cars on turntables, none of them are roped off, so you can get as close as you want to everything, which makes a refreshing change these days. Greeting visitors is this amazing bronze Bugatti Type 35. Quite incredible.


1924 Type 6

With over 20 Bugatti in the museum, this is a real treasure trove for the Bugattiste.

Centrepiece of the entire museum has to be this, the world’s most expensive car. It is one of the few that does not belong to Peter Mullin, but instead is on loan from its anonymous owner. It is a 1936 Type 57C Atlantic. The first owner of this car was Victor Rothschild. The current owner had to spend $40m to buy it.

This car got a lot publicity too, as it is the famous “lake car”, the remains of a 1922 Brescia that were removed from a watery grave of Lake Maggiore a few months ago. The decision has been taken not to restore it, but to leave it “as is”.
A 1923 Type 23 Brescia
1925 Type 35C
1928 Type 37A
1929 Type 43/44 Roadster
1930 Type 43A Cabrio
This 1939 Type 57C Van Voorem is completely unrestored, and whilst the paintwork is far from perfect, it still looks fantastic. It secured a third in class at Pebble Beach recently.
1928 Type 44 Coupe Fiacre
1929 Type 46
1930 Type 46
1931 Type 54 Roadster
1939 Type 57C Aravis
There is also an example of the child sized Bugatti type 52.
Two very contrasting Bugatti are to be found upstairs: a wooden horse drawn vehicle sits alongside the 1994 EB110SS.
A quartet of modern concepts complete the Bugatti story, with the 1999 Veyron EB16/4, the EB18/3, the EB218 and the EB118 all looking quite fantastic.

1910 Type TG


1934 Roadster

This 1927 Indy Racer took part in 19 of the 23 Indy races held between 1927 and 1950, the most in which any single car competed.

1927 Delage ERA, fitted with an ERA engine
1946 D6GP
This is the “Prix de Million” 1937 Type 145 V12 Grand Prix Car. “Prix de Million” refers to a prize fund of 1 Million French Francs offered by the French government for beating one of the all dominant German Auto Union and Mercedes cars.

There were a pair Type 145 V12 Coupes, with the two tone car dating from 1938 and the taupe coloured one from 1937
1937 Type 135M Roadster
1946 Type 135 M3
1949 Type 135MS Cabrio
1951 Type 235 Roadster

1911 Type 15 Alfonso XIII Roadster, named after the then King of Spain

1922 H6B Labourdette
1935 J12 Drophead
1935 Dubonnet Xenia
1937 K6 Shooting Brake. This unusual body was created in the 1940s

1928 15CV Type B3-6


1913 Peugeot Bebe

1937 402 Eclipse

1927 40CV

Apparently this car is Peter Mullin’s personal favourite, a 1938 T150CS Goutte d’Eau. The body is styled by Figoni and Falaschi. First purchased by Wolf Barnato, of racing Bentley fame, it came to the US in the 1950s and was bought by Mullin in 1991.

1929 M75 de Vizcaya
1950 T26GP

1938 T87


A little heard of French marque, this is a 1933 D2 9CV Faux Cabrio

This long obsolete French marque was founded by Gabriel Voisin, and was the result of him turning his attention in 1919 from building airplanes to cars, hence the more formal name of Avions-Voisin. A whole series of different designs followed, numbered sequentially, and all prefaced with the letter C, as a tribute to Gabriel’s brother Charles, who had been killed in 1912 in a short chassis Hispano-Suiza Alfonso. Voisin’s cars were best described as luxurious, fashionable and somewhat idiosyncratic. Nowhere is this more evident  than in the amazing and very distinctive mascot on the top of the grille of his cars.

Mullin owns 15 Voisins, the largest single collection of the marque anywhere in the world. Those on display at the time of my visit where these:

1923 C3 Strasbourg. Approximately 440 of these were built, and this model finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 1922 Strasbourg Grand Prix, hence the name

This 1923 C6 Laboratoire Racer is one of 4 built, and was an experiment to see if light weight and aircraft principles could be applied to make a racing car go faster.
1928 C11 Lumhouse Torpedo
1928 C14
1934 C27 Gran Sport Cabrio
1936 C28 Clairiere
1938 C30 Cabrio
In addition to the cars which Mullin had gradually sourced over time,a couple of years ago he was able to buy the majority of what is known as the Schlumpf Reserve Collection. Following protracted legal battles over more than 20 years, ownership of these cars, which had been stored away from the main Schlumpf collection finally passed back to the Schlumpf estate, to Madame Arlette Schlumpf. Many were in a very poor state of repair, and a lot of parts had been cannibalised, but this was a treasure trove of 62 cars, 17 of which were Bugatti and Mullin bought almost all the collection.

1937 Auto Union Wanderer W25

1927 Bugatti Type 40 Shooting Brake
1937 Bugatti Type 57 Ventoux
1935 Bugatti Type 57 Galibier Berlie
1931 Bugatti Type 40A Roadster
1936 Bugatti Type 57 Ventoux
1927 De Dion Bouton TK5 Torpedo
Although the cars are the prime attraction in the museum, there is plenty of other interest, with a lot of furniture that was made by Carol Bugatti, Ettore’s father, as well as portraits and sculptures created by members of the Bugatti family.

This is an absolutely stunning collection. The museum is typically open twice a month, usually on a Saturday, and you have to reserve a ticket in advance, which is easy enough. Although you would never find the museum by accident, it is easy to locate, about 3 miles south of the 101 freeway in Oxnard, 50 miles north west of Los Angeles.

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