James Dean 1949 Mercury 'won' in wager

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During the height of the baseball season, the California Automobile Museum of Sacramento and the National Automobile Museum in Reno entered into a friendly wager around a 16-game series pitting the local minor league baseball team, the River Cats, against the Reno Aces. The bet was that the auto museum in the city of the team that lost the series would loan a famous car from its collection to the museum in the winning city.

If the River Cats won, the 1949 Mercury driven by James Dean in the 1955 movie Rebel Without a Cause would be loaned to the California Automobile Museum. If the Aces won, the National Automobile Museum would be loaned a 1932 Ford raced by legendary driver A.J. Foyt. After an epic battle between two very well-matched teams, the Sacramento River Cats won the final two games to clinch the series.

The 1949 Mercury Series 9CM Six-Passenger Coupe has now arrived at the California Automobile Museum and will be on display through the end of the year. The car was mildly customized for its star turn in Rebel Without a Cause, which premiered at New York's Aster Theatre in October 1955, a month after James Dean's death. Both Dean's influential performance and his hopped-up Mercury became legendary symbols of the disaffected youth culture of the era, and the car has become one of the most famous movie cars in history.

The California Automobile Museum is located at 2200 Front St., Sacramento, and is open daily 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. To learn more, visit www.CalAutoMuseum.org or call 916-442-6802.
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