Doane Yawger: California Automobile Museum in Old Town Sacramento worth a visit

May 27, 2013 

Museums are fun places to visit, especially if there are old cars and trucks on display.

Needless to say, the California Automobile Museum in Old Town Sacramento is great and I'd like to go back again soon. If it weren't more than two hours away, I'd be a frequent visitor and maybe even volunteer as a docent. We need a car museum in Merced.

More than 150 cars from the early 1900s up to modern times are showcased in the facility that used to be known as the Towe Ford Museum.

They still have plenty of old Fords along with an ample smattering of other makes. They even have the 1967 Plymouth four-door sedan that Gov. Jerry Brown used the first time he was in office. It looks similar to the car used by the Foster Farms chickens in their television commercial.

My favorite vehicle had to be a 1937 Chrysler Imperial business coupe. The pairing of a luxury Imperial with the Spartan nature of a coupe seems odd at first, but the combination works well with that Imperial. The cream-colored Chrysler oozed style with ribbed bumpers and shiny chrome ribbing running along the edges of the hood.

Chrysler products from the mid- to late 1930s such as Airflows, Plymouths, Desotos and Dodges are among my favorites because of their stylish flair; I don't recall ever seeing an Imperial like that one before.

The museum also has a 1936 Chrysler P-1 business coupe and a 1936 Graham Supercharged Trunk Sedan, an opulent four-door cruiser.

Other "best of show" nominations I would confer included a 1955 Oldsmobile two-door hardtop, a 1958 Packard Hawk with its fish mouth grille and a 1958 Edsel two-door hardtop.

One could easily spend a couple hours checking out the auto museum. There were two 1951 Ford Crestliners with their distinctive side trim, a 1956 Buick Riviera two-door hardtop and a dazzling 1941 Cadillac convertible in the entryway to the museum. Also a swashbuckling example of rolling flamboyance was a 1930 Studebaker FD Commander roadster.

They had "circled the wagons," so to speak, with a feature display of about a dozen 1968 cars and trucks.

The auto museum is at 2200 Front St. and is open all week long, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, when you don't expect anything to be open anyway.

Visiting an auto museum is a good way to recharge your zeal for old cars. Identifying the old cars certainly is more fun than working a jigsaw or crossword puzzle. Your feet and your brain get some exercise — you just can't beat that.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or

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