A Visit to the Lane Motor Museum

Yesterday, I was listening to the local NPR station when they announced that the Lane Motor Museum was going to be giving free rides. I’ve been to the museum in the past, and I knew what kind of cars were in the collection. There were a couple of Tatras in the collection, and given that a Tatra is similar to a Tucker in many ways, I figured that this would be a good chance to hop a ride in a car that’s as close as I could get to a Tucker. Knowing that today was Father’s Day, I called my dad and brother to see if they wanted to go along, figuring that it’d be a good way to spend the day. Both of them wanted to go, but I, however, was the only one who rode in a car. When we got there, I discovered that the collection had been changed a bit.

Parked out front was the McQuay-Norris demonstration car. They’d built several of these back in the late 1920s, early 1930s and sent them around the country as a way of showing people how reliable their products were. The interior of the car was filled with a mass of gauges so the driver could keep track of things like cylinder pressure and oil consumption.

Outback (Because where the hell else are you going to put it?), is a ginormous landing craft from I think WW II. How big is it? That dark blotch between the wheels is this truck!

Inside, I discovered that not only did they have a Davis, but they had one of the few Davis convertables!

The last time I was in the museum, my digital camera died, and I wasn’t able to take all the photos I wanted to. This time, I showed up with a couple of disposable cameras, and tried to take pictures of things that I missed last time. Unfortunately, the quality of the photos is not the best in some shots. Still, I’ll be able to give you a bit of an overview of the place. (Tomorrow, i’ll post the details of my ride in a Tatra. It’s getting late, so I can’t go into detail tonight.)

These shots will give you some idea of what it’s like inside. I can only imagine what’s in the basement of the place. Notice that there’s not a rope or barricade between visitors and the cars. You can get as close as you like, so long as you don’t touch them.

The collection includes race cars, microcars, kit cars, military vehicles (that’s my dad looking at the back of that AMC Jeep, BTW), Japanese cars, motorcycles, flying cars, cycle cars, and bizarre one-offs.

Well, it’s time for me to toddle off to bed. Tomorrow, I’ll be back with more photos of things like a wankel powered motorcycle, a Czech ambulance, a couple of different cars built by aircraft companies, and an account of my ride (on the interstate, no less) in the Tatra.

Cool pictures, Tuckerfan. Thanks for posting.

I liked the microcars.

I believe this is an Austin Mini Traveller.

Perhaps the Lane Motor Museum will become the proud owner of this 1957 Plymouth Belvedere once the car is restored. When I read the story of that Chrysler Corporation product’s fate after serving as a time capsule for the last half-century, I was reminded of this thread from last winter.

Tuckerfan: Since my paternal ancestry is Czech, I’ve been aware of the Tatra since childhood, and thus eagerly await your report of the riding experience.

Yup. That’s got to be it.

If I’m remembering the name right, this is a Voksin. Regardless of the name, it was built for only a few years by a French aircraft manufacturer who wanted to get into the car business. They stopped production in the 1930s, so I can only conclude that the Great Depression did them in. It was a lovely car, that reminded me of Packard in it’s elegance.

The Voksin wasn’t the only car in the museum which could trace it’s roots back to an aircraft company. In the 1930’s the Martin Aircraft company considered it as well. They built two different prototype models, one of which was the Martinette. (The side of the car can just barely be made out in this photo. Not a pretty car at all, but it was one of the pioneering designs as far as streamlining goes. Even the underside of the car was fitted with a cowling to smooth the airflow. Needless to say, the cars never went into production (and the other prototype was simply a larger version of the Martinette).

Hanging from the ceiling was what appeared to be a flying car. It’s not visible in any of the photos, but the front wing appeared to easily removeable, and the tail wing appeared to be designed to be slid out of the fuselage. There wasn’t any signs around the car/plane (clane?) telling you exactly what it was, so I’m guessing here.

If I’m not mistaken, this is a French built propellor driven car, that lay rotting in a barn until it was found in the mid to late 1990s. The last time I was there, the museum had a large display talking about a prop car that looked like this one, but the display was gone this time, so I’m not certain if this is it, or if it’s another one. In any case, not visible in the photo is that the body was made of thin varnished wooden strips. A number of people built prop cars in the 1920s, for reasons I can’t fathom. Although, I do have to say such a car would be fun to tailgate someone with! :evil:

A nifty idea for a car was this King Midget. Back in the 1950s, you could buy one of these very tiny cars for next to nothing. IIRC, they were shipped in a small crate, and you did final assembly on the car. They didn’t go very fast, but were economical on gas, and, apparently, you could buy a boat and trailer scaled for the cars.

A similar looking vehicle was this FarmORoad. It might have been made by the same company, and the idea behind it was a small combination tractor/car for farms (hence the name).

Probably, the coolest of the microcars there was this French built model. Admittedly not much to look at, but it had pedals for both the driver and passenger to use. You could pedal the car to go where you wanted to, or you could use the pedals to fire up the 2HP 100 cc engine in the car and use that to power you up to a blistering 21 MPH! :eek: Put something like a 10 HP engine in it so that you could get it up to highway speeds and as long as gas prices remain high, you could probably sell a million of them!

Hey, mister! What kind of car is that? Bond. Microcar Bond. I’m not sure who made it, but it’s a British three wheeler. I don’t remember if Bond refers to the make or model of the car.

This is a 1980 Midas Bronze. It was a British made kit car, that reminds me a lot of the Nissan 300ZX which wouldn’t be built until years later. I’m not sure what the donor car was, and I don’t have a pic of the interior, but the car wouldn’t look out of place on the road today.

Everybody knows that Toyota builds reliable cars, but people often complain that they’re not very exciting looking. As this model from the 1970s demonstrates, that wasn’t always the case. Toyota should really consider bringing out an updated version of the car.

Honda also put out a rather nice looking car at about the same time. It reminds me of an MG.

This is an NSU, I think. Anyway, it’s a 3 letter named car that began with “N.” I’m not sure if it’s owned by the museum, or if it was driven there by someone visiting the museum that day. It was parked in the garage attached to the side of the museum, which not only is parking for the museum, but also held several exhibits. No matter what the case, the car was right hand drive, and the stereo inside had been upgraded with a CD player that was designed to look like original equipment.

Fans of Fatboys will find this French motorcycle interesting. It was primarily built for the French police and was powered by an automobile engine. Not a bad looking bike, IMHO.

This is a Wankel powered motorcycle. If you zoom in on this pic and squint, you can read the sign telling a brief history of the design. I bet that the thing was fast as all get out.

A few years ago, on the TV show Invent This! they featured a monocycle, and I had to laugh, because the idea’s been around for decades. In fact, someone even designed a tank version between the World Wars. :eek: This monocycle that was on display was built in the late 1980s, IIRC.

I don’t know who made it, but this small sports car reminds me of Caroll Shelby’s AC Cobra for some reason.

Here you can see some of the cars lined up for rides. Your choices, besides the Tatra, was a 1930s Lancia, a Citroen, and a 1930s BMW. The Lancia and the BMW are both lovely cars (while the Citroen reminds me of a hamster), and

[Cartman] Bad kitty![/Cartman]

Here you can see some of the cars lined up for rides. Your choices, besides the Tatra, was a 1930s Lancia, a Citroen, and a 1930s BMW. The Lancia and the BMW are both lovely cars (while the Citroen reminds me of a hamster), and I wouldn’t mind taking a spin in one of them, but since there was a Tatra, I had to ride in that.

This is the Tatra that I got to ride in. It was built in 1946 and had a full restoration about 10 years ago, or so. It’s also been driven twice in the Great Race. I rode in the back of the car, while in the front, along with the driver, was an elderly gentleman. In the back with me was the gentleman’s attractive daughter. What I didn’t know at that time, and I could kick myself for not sticking around and talking to the guy more, was that the driver was the owner of the museum!

For those of you who don’t know, the Tatra was a Czech built car, and Hitler ripped off one of their designs for the Beetle. After the war, VW had to pay Tatra an undisclosed sum of money for infringing on Tatra’s design. (VW guys don’t particularly like discussing this fact, BTW.) It was designed by a gentleman named Hans Ludwinka, who was a brilliant automotive engineer, and during the war, after the Germans had captured Czechoslovakia, German officers eagerly sought out Tatras as personal transportation because the cars were so fast. After a number of high ranking generals got killed in the cars, the German army prohibited them from driving the cars.

The one I rode in had an aircooled V8 mounted in the rear. I expected that the ride would be just around the parking lot, but we got a great deal more than that. The interior of the car was very comfortable, though a little snug. The turn signals were controlled by a knob on the dash, which at first I thought was for the wipers or radio. When the car started up, it sounded like noting I’d ever heard before. Not quite a throaty roar, but it definately had a “meaty” sound to it. Think of a couple of Harley-Davidson bikes with factory pipes, and you’ll have an idea of what it sounded like.

There was a bit of grinding when it was first shifted into gear, but other than that, the transmission performed flawlessly. We pulled out of the lot, made a left and headed down the road. This was a surprise to me, but I wasn’t complaining. The acceleration was brisk, but not enough to smash you back in your seat. The ride, however, was incredible! Almost perfect, IMHO. Tight, smooth, and as we entered the highway, not a trace of body roll. I’ve ridden in much more modern cars that didn’t ride half as well as that 60 year old Tatra did!

We cruised along on the interstate to the amazed glances of folks in passing cars. Lane said that it was always great fun to see people’s reactions and them diving for their cameras to take pictures when he drove one of his cars on the road. He joked that one of these days someone was going to have a wreck because of it.

We got off the highway a couple of exits down, and took some back roads on our way back to the museum. The museum’s not located in the best part of town, and the roads aren’t in the best shape, but you’d never know it from riding in the car. Gear shifts were smooth, it took curves (some of them sharp) with aplumb, and was a great joy to ride in. I’d love to drive one, because I bet that the car’s highly responsive.

Oh yeah, almost the entire roof of the car was a rectractable sunroof, and the car had seat belts. I don’t know if they were original equipment, or were added later on. I didn’t think to ask what kind of mileage the car got, but I wouldn’t mind having one of them as a daily driver, it was such a good car. The interior (save the dash) was well padded, and the seats were quite comfortable.

That’s also not the only Tatra the museum has. It also has a Tatra ambulance, which like all Tatras has a rear engine. You can’t see it in the photo, but the front of the ambulance looks like a mid-90s BMW. I would have liked to have stayed and talked cars with Mr. Lane, but both my father and brother were ready to go and get something to eat, so I had say a quick thank you and leave. Hopefully, he’ll be there on July 2nd, when the cars in the Great Race stop at the museum.

That’s a Berkeley, a fairly popular miniature British sports car:


Some nice passing fellow filled in some details about this car on my flickr page. Here they are:

That’s the ambulance I mentioned in a thread a while ago. Has it been cleaned up and put on display, or was it still in a back area of the building, away from the main exhibit floor? Maybe we’ll go back and see it the next time we’re in Nashville.


It was in the parking garage. It hadn’t been restored, but it was pretty clean looking. If you can, you need to get there on July 2nd.