For years Fred Simeone has collected gems, rare and important racing cars from around the world. Last week 60 of these "crown jewels" of racing went on display at the new Simeone Foundation Museum which opened near the auto mall and airport in southwest Philadelphia.
“This is my gift to Philadelphia,’’ Simeone, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Simeon is a nationally respected neurosurgeon who recently retired from Pennsylvania Hospital. “I’m hoping people will come here from all over the world just to see these cars.’’
The cars range from a 1909 American Underslung to a 1975 Alfa-Romeo 33-TT-12, a streamlined 500-hp thoroughbred capable of 230 miles per hour. In between are all manner of exotic and exquisite Alfas, Bentleys, BMWs, Bugattis, Ferraris, Jaguars, Maseratis, Mercedeses, and such American makes as Mercer, Stutz, Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg.
“I consider these the most exciting cars,’’ Simeone says. “They were built to do more than transport people. They were also built for sport and speed.’’
Among the amazing cars with impressive stories to be displayed at the new museum are a 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona coupe that set numerous records on the Bonneville Salt Flats; a 1937 BMW 328 with only 16,000 miles and its original paint; a 1958 Ferrari Testa Rossa with pontoon fenders; a 1954 Ferrari 375MM once owned by actor William Holden; a 1933 Squire Roadster, one of only seven made and considered one of the most gorgeous English sports cars ever crafted; a 1952 Cunningham C4R, one of only three built; and the 1958 Aston Martin DBR1 that Sir Stirling Moss piloted to victory at Nurburgring.
The focus of the Simeone Foundation Museum is on racing sports cars — cars with headlights and fenders that seated a driver and passenger mostly in an open cockpit and could be driven on the street. Many of the cars look the way they did when they raced. They have not been restored to showroom prettiness. Simeone, an advocate of preservation, considers that desecration.
At the new museum, which is located in a former engine remanufacturing plant, the cars are grouped in dioramas that illustrate the evolution of auto racing.
Simeone Foundation Museum
6825-31 Norwitch Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19153