Faced with debt of nearly $5 million, the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio is selling off some of the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum’s most valuable vehicles.
A 1930 Bugatti phaeton touring car, possibly the only one of its kind in existence, and a 1930 Belanger Indianapolis Racer are among those scheduled to go on the auction block.
The museum has struggled with financial difficulties for a number of years in the aftermath of major renovation, and has previously sold off other cars, planes and artifacts from its collection to pay its rising debt obligations.
Cleveland’s Plain Dealer Reporter says the Society insists that the end is not near for the Crawford Museum, but rather the sales of the cars are designed to preserve the remaining collection, listed at about 175 cars.
On the Museum’s Web site the sale is explained as necessary to continually refine the Museum’s mission. “In terms of the Society’s collections, especially those of the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, this means focusing on acquiring vehicles as well as other artifacts and documents that represent Northeast Ohio’s contributions to automobile and aviation history. The Society’s refined mission is also to demonstrate the relevance of these historical materials to current and future debates on energy efficiency and entrepreneurship.”
The action has angered at least one board member, who resigned. David Sunderhaft told the Plain Dealer that one of the top auto-aviation museums in the country is being dismantled.
“What we have in Cleveland, before the sales that have occurred in the last years, is one of the top auto-aviation museums in the country.” He said the sales will not only hurt the collection, but prevent individuals from donating rare cars or planes in the future.
Although the Plain Dealer listed 19 vehicles for sale (including a 1966 Aston Martin D85 and a 1956 Gullwing Mercedes-Benz) the Museum’s Web site currently lists only 17 (minus the Aston and Mercedes).
Cars listed on the Museum Web site for auction:
1919 Locomobile, tp.48, Series 5 Sportif
1930 Bugatti Type 44 Touring Car
1930 Pierce Arrow
1930 Belanger Indianapolis Racer
1939 Lincoln Zephyr Convertible
1973 Jaquar e-Type Series III Open 2-Seater
1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible Yellowbird
1934 Ford Model 40 Deluxe Coupe
1941 Mercury Convertible
1930 Chevrolet Truck
1964 Ford Galaxie 500 2-door Hardtop
1936 Pontiac Deluxe 6 Coupe
1922 Dodge Brothers Series I Touring
1949 Ford Model 98A Custom Convertible
1976 Cadillac Fleetwood
1963 Chevrolet Corvette 837 Coupe
Also, a 1927 Miller Race Engine
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