Restoring a barn-fresh 1966 Sears Allstate

Archive for the 'museums' Category

Pinakothek Der Moderne – Munich 2009

I visited the Modern Art Museum in Munich in 2009. I was pleasantly surprised to find the museum is a great mix of art gallery and modern commercial design. Of course being in Munich there was a heavy BMW presence.
The streamlined Tatra 87 was a highlight. The Czech built car was influential on Porsche’s KdF Wagen (VW beatle) designs. So much so that Tatra was in the process of suing Porsche, but that was dropped when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia. In 1965, the matter was settled when Volkswagen paid Tatra 1,000,000 Deutsche Mark in compensation; you can see the two cars up on the shelves in the second photo.

Tatra 87, powered by a rear-mounted 3.0-litre air-cooled 90-degree overhead cam V8 engine that produced 85 horsepower and could drive the car at nearly 100 mph (160 km/h).


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Cool Puch

I was at a cabin in the Laurentians last week and I found myself leafing through a 2004 Vanity Fair, as one is apt to do on lazy summer days.  My eye was caught by familiar looking object int he magazine –  the Puch air filter! Lo and behold there was the king of Cool, James Dean, sitting on a Puch/Allstate on the set of Rebel Without A Cause. If you read the fine print the photo has been colourized, so I am not sure it is a green bike, but it looks like the 125cc with the skinny shocks and small headlight.


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BMW Motorcycle Museum: Munich

I am a lucky man, on my honeymoon in 2009, my wife and I spent a day  at the BMW Motorcycle Museum in Munich.  Really enjoyed the museum, and the corporate dining room was one of the best meals I had 0n the trip.  I think I’ve had one of the worst meals ever, in Venice, and will admit to taking refuge in the Ikea cafe in Italy…  yes, ok. I confess, it wasn’t a gourmands delight, but the BMW restaurant was outstanding – so if you find yourself there, don’t hesitate to partake.

The motorcycles on display were awesome,  one complaint I would have it that there are a lot of bikes mounted on a wall behind glass – made me wish I had a polarizing filter on my camera to block the reflections, but the lack of access was balanced by the fact that many of the motorcycles and cars were open to pawing, gawking and close inspection. The awesomeness of the  collection was marred by an equally monumental flaw, which slowly but surly left a bad taste in my mouth.

The new modern space is impressive, but the overall experience was tainted by BMW Welt (world) that is part and parcel of the experience. You pay admission to enter what is essentially a humungous showroom.  I completely understand  museums charging admission, I’d gladly pay for a pilgrimage to Sammy Miller’s. I understand, vehicles need to be procured, restored, maintained and displayed, but the rest was just a giant… I dunno, show off? It made me think these guys really do have too much money.  Now that was the cynical me, a couple of years later looking at the photos I am impressed, but not blown away.

It would have been nice to see the bikes with a fuller display, for example period riding gear, tools, race results etc. The building is very sterile, white, grey and modern forms and curves – it would be nice to have a human touch, especially when dealing with motorcycles. Of course BMW Welt Museum is there to showcase BMW,  it would have been nice to see some other marques.

Overall the impression was that this Museum really was a marketing exercise, and hence my annoyance at paying for the privilege. I guess I was somewhat naive in expecting a true museum, but that is what I was expecting, perhaps an old foundry where cylinders were cast, exposed brick, crusty leathers…. like the Sammy Miller Museum, or a more balanced perspective like the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.  Like most experinces (or life in general) managing expectations is the key to happiness, so had I done any research, I would have known what I was getting into.

While you are in Munich, it would be worth a visit to the International Design Museum or (Die Neue Sammlung, Design in Der Pinakothek Der Moderne) They have some awesome bikes and cars displayed within the context of modern art and design, really worth the visit, even if you are just a gearhead. I’ll post my photos from that another day.

Overall it was a great day of bikes and cars, I hope the photos give you a sense of the place and the bikes on display, there’s enough of them!


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Trev Deely museum: Vancouver


This August, I had the chance to visit Vancouver for a week, ostensibly to attend SIGGRAPH. My wife wanted to go to the art museum, I wanted to see bikes, so off  I went with my daughter Sophie and headed for the Trev Deeley Motorcycle Exhibition. Of course being a British bike fan I missed the British Exhibition, End of Empire, by a year. Not as frustrating as missing the Norton Owners Club Rally that took place in Austria. I drove past it on my honeymoon heading from Germany to Venice. By “drove past it” I mean missed it I didn’t know it was happening until I got home and saw the ad in  Classic Bike Magazine. arrgh.

IMG_0132 Sophie and I zipped out to Trev Deeley,  a short drive from downtown Vancouver, located in a nondescript strip mall.  It is a contemporary Harley Dealership, full of halogen lights, branded merchandise, over-the-hill Barbie Doll receptionists, and a few bikes on the floor.
Luckily the museum is at the front door, it was mid afternoon and the dealership was quiet, the museum empty.  I was greeted by a friendly guy and asked for my suggested $5 donation.  It really isn’t a suggested donation, the $5 is suggested amount if you follow me.  I have no problem paying for the exhibit,  I just thought the wording was somewhat confusing.  At the entrance there is a Harley hack with a backdrop for photos, visitors are encouraged to hop on and take a photo. The couple behind me got offers of helmets and photos, somehow the guy with the toddler didn’t.

The exhibition space is nice, with a combination of natural light and professionally created displays. Although the current exhibition Made in America is mostly Harley and Indian, it does include bikes made in Toronto, Canada, such as Indian. The show says “more than 315 motorcycle manufacturers in the USA since 1895”.  The bikes are in varied enough in age and type to be interesting to a casual observer. I was more interested in the other older marques on display like Excelsior, Orient, CCM and Pierce.

I was enjoying the exhibit for about two minutes when Sophie started crying and holding up her index finger. Knowing that the bikes weren’t running I ruled out missing digits and hot exhausts, but it was a burnt finger. The halogen spot lights mounted in the stands are very hot. I spent the rest of the exhibit juggling an upset toddler, licking and blowing on her finger to cool it, trying to take photos all while trying to keep her from crying in the very echo-y hall. It wasn’t an ideal way to view a bike exhibit,  but I guess it was my penance for lack of parental vigilance….

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