The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Simeone Automotive Museum - Racing Solutions for 1954


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Racing Solutions for 1954
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The Simeone Automotive Museum is one of the few museums in the world where visitors can stand up close, and also see, hear, and smell famous race cars run.

A late-July, slightly overcast, 80 degree Saturday made for a great backdrop to see and hear some of the cars that were examples from each major country involved in endurance race winning nearly 60 years ago. Less than a decade after the end of one of the most devastating wars in history, automotive manufacturers produced racing sports cars that, today, are classics.

As sports car road racing began to resume after WWII, manufacturers in Europe and the U.S. worked to develop designs that could win endurance races at tracks like Le Mans.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

On this July day, museum visitors saw four cars that represented the "state-of-the-art" in racing technology from each country in 1954: the Mercedes-Benz 300SL from Germany, the Jaguar C-Type from England, the Ferrari 375 MM from Italy, and the Cunningham C4R from the United States.

Dr. Fred Simeone reviewed these examples from each major country involved in endurance racing, discussed the racing environment at the time, and pointed out what made each one great. Dr. Simeone and museum curator Kevin Kelly then drove the vehicles around the paved 3-acre site for all to see and hear under power.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing features a slanted, SOHC, straight six producing 215HP and is the first engine to feature direct fuel injection. The 300SL is a durable and fast car with independent rear suspension, a strong chassis, and good aerodynamics. Because of the chassis-stiffening side members, distinctive gullwing doors were used.

The 1953 Jaguar C-Type has a DOHC, straight six from the XK-120 with about 205HP. A car with lots of finesse and the first to use disc brakes together with a light chassis, tubular suspension, a 96inch wheelbase, and aerodynamic aluminum body.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 1953 Cunningham C4R features an OHV V-8 Chrysler Hemi with about 250HP. The C4R is big with a large powerful engine, tube chassis, and water-cooled brakes. Somewhat sophisticated, its power made it a success.



PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 1954 Ferrari 375 MM has a DOHC, V-12 producing 360 HP from its 4.5-L engine. It was a stallion. Light weight with sophisticated steering, and good aerodynamics. The interior is a work of art and the sound of the V-12 under power is something to experience. This Ferrari was owned by the actor William Holden after it was retired from racing.

The Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia is one of the greatest collections of racing sports cars in the world. Assembled over a span of 50 years by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Frederick Simeone, the Museum contains over 60 of the rarest racing cars ever built.

The Simeone Automotive Museum was selected as the Museum of the Year by the International Historic Motoring Awards.

If you have even the slightest passion about motor racing, head to Philadelphia and take a look at: www.simeonemuseum.org.

Larry Nutson