“Reel Cars: the importance of cars in film making” recently opened at the California Auto Museum

Cars of movies and television on display at the California Auto Museum!

Automobiles have long been a huge part of motion pictures and, more recently, television. As autos became a daily part of American life since the early 1900s, it’s no surprise they’ve taken such a huge role in television and movies. They often take a leading role in films like Bullitt or Fast and Furious, are used to set the scene (as were a host of 50s and 60s autos used in American Graffiti, hearkening back to the cruises on Modesto’s 10th and 11th streets) or help portray romance (as a beautiful white Nash Healy convertible did in the film Sabrina).

Cars from Ford vs. Ferrari flank Aubrey Hepburn’s white Nash Healy from Sabrina, part of the Reel Cars exhibit at the California Auto Museum.

The specialty exhibit “Reel Cars: the importance of cars in film making” recently opened at the California Auto Museum in Sacramento, and runs through July 6, 2020. Automobiles have been a part of motion pictures since the two technologies developed simultaneously in the early 1900s. The cars are not replicas or celebrity-owned – all cars featured were used by studios to make a movie or TV show.

The ‘Reel Cars’ exhibit shows off many of those movie cars, as well as offering insight into how those exciting chase scenes have been filmed over the years. Alas, the 1968 Mustang driven by Steve McQueen and made famous in Bullitt is not here; it recently sold for $3.74 million!

Crowd admires the red Ferrari from Ford vs. Ferrari.

Among the 20-some movie vehicles on display, consider a sumptuous pink 1951 Nash Rambler “Rolltop”, used by 20th Century Fox to promote the 1952 classic Monkey Business, starring Marilyn Monroe. The car was used to squire Marilyn around to a variety of promotions for the movie and at the movie’s premiere, as well as by Monroe in the Miss America pageant when she became the pageant’s grand marshal. It’s a spectacular classic Rambler, made more so by its relationship to the movie star.

The pink Rambler “Rolltop” used by Marilyn Monroe to help promote Risky Business.

You’ll spot two of the cars from the recent Oscar-nominated movie, Ford vs. Ferrari. In the movie, Christian Bale is filmed driving a number 98 Shelby Cobra in 1963. Since the original Cobra was worth a fortune, the movie used this high-quality Superperformance Cobra replica, looking almost exactly like the real thing. Nearby spot a bright red Ferrari also featured in the movie, or a hot custom blue Suburu used in the movie The Fast and the Furious.

Just a few cars away is a beautiful 1953 Nash Healy roadster, from the 1954 hit Sabrina, featuring Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, all filmed in this spectacular car. The Nash Healy is considered the first American postwar sports car, beating the Corvette by two years, though it ended production in 1954 after turning heads with its unique style by Italian designer Pininfarina.

Another view of the Reel Cars exhibit at the Museum.

Across the exhibit space spot a huge 1918 Henney Hearse, one of the largest funeral carmakers in the US at the time. Featuring spectacular craftsmanship and ornate woodcarvings, the hearse appeared in the 1955 movie Bad Day at Black Rock, stirring Spencer Tracy. During filming, the owner of the hearse was so worried about its value that he insisted having a bodyguard to watch over the car.

Ornate Henney Hearse from Bad Day at Black Rock.
Visitors can enjoy some 125 additional classic and vintage autos as part
of the Museum’s regular stock.

Museum visitors will spot several custom vehicles designed for high-tech filming. Among them are a huge 1920s Pierce Arrow truck, adapted to carry several large movie cameras to film cowboys and Indians racing along a dirt track, a custom designed Land Rover modified to look like a car 15 years into the future and a recent model BMW sedan affixed to the frame of a stretched cargo van, used to film actors ostensibly driving the car at high speeds. 

Take a seat in a classic Mercedes Benz convertible in front of a moving film backdrop, and produce your own selfie-video showing you and your companion having an animated conversation as the scenery roles by. Not only will these cars and movie-making vehicles wow you, but kids and young adults will be quickly impressed by just how these movie’s action scenes were made. Different rigs and a crashed car shed a light on the behind-the-scenes of cars in motion pictures. There are multiple ways to engage and interact with the exhibit displays, including rolling videos of old silent movies, interactive displays to engage kids and much more. Visitors will come to better understand the process of automobile filming.  

Since opening in 1987, the California Automobile Museum tells the story of over 130 years of automotive culture and history. Exhibiting makes and models of all kinds, the Museum strives to preserve, exhibit, teach and tell the stories of the automobile and its influence on our lives. In addition to the current special exhibit, enjoy another 120 classic and vintage autos as part of the museum’s continuing showcase.

The 1933 Lincoln limosine, owned by the founder of Bank of Italy/Bank of America.

For more information: The museum is located at 2200 Front Street, Sacramento, just a ½ mile south of Old Sacramento; see the website, calautomuseum.org or call (916) 442-6802.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com or follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in your world!

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