When Ruth & I visited America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, last June, I was surprised to learn that the LeMay family had kept open its original facility at Marymount. Now I understand why.
Before we spent the afternoon at the new LeMay, we went to the old at Marymount Event Center run by the LeMay Family Collection Foundation, a completely separate entity started in the 1960s. It’s thriving. And growing. About 30 t0 40 new vehicles are added each year, and 500+ are on display, so many that we had our own docent, Dennis, to make sure we’d experience a collection that has become, like many American institutions, too big to even think about shutting down.
The old LeMay Family Collection at Marymount is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. At 325 152nd Street E, it’s several miles from the new Museum that’s next to the Tacoma Dome. lemaymarmount.org and GPS helped us get there and warned us that 2 of the 3 buildings we’d visit were not fully heated. In other words, bring a coat in winter. Dennis was glad to see that new heat generating equipment was being brought in.
Don’t think that you’re seeing all of LeMay collection, once over 3,500 vehicles, if you visit both the old and new facilities. Harold had a 300 car garage “at home” plus 28 facilities where he stored the vehicles he bought almost on a daily basis. “If it’s out there, I’ll buy it,” was half of Harold’s collecting philosophy. His wife Nancy, luckily, shared his interest. On display at Marymount are the partially visible last car he bought, a 1952 Willys Aero Wing 2-door sedan, and Nancy’s first new car, a 1976 Cadillac. The Family Foundation has donated over 600 vehicles to the new LeMay.
It’s impossible to tour Marymount and not pick personal favorites. Mine included a 1959 Cadillac, Series 62, that was judged Winner of the “fin wars” and a 75% restored, pig-snouted 1966 Ultra Van. Only 110 of these were built.
Harold’s quests included a Tucker. When one of the 51 Tuckers made became available, he judged its $45,000 price tag too much. After he died in 2000, Nancy bought one in his memory for $350,000. I did some research and found a Fox News alert from January 22, 2012, that reported a Tucker for sale for $2.56 million. To see Nancy’s memorial Tucker, clearly ACM’s star attraction, you must visit the new LeMay.
As I wandered around both America’s Car Museum and the Family Collection for the second time, I found a quote by Mario Andretti that seemed to sum up both my starry-eyed reaction to seeing the old and new facilities in a single day and Harold’s collecting passion. “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”