Garagistry Meets with Dr. Fred Simeone


The Automotive Hippocratic Oath 
“Do no harm to historically accurate artifacts.” 
Stepping out of the airport, I was greeted by a typical mid-March Philadelphia morning, cold and cloudy. "I wonder what today will bring,"  I thought, as I texted my location to my waiting business partner. After settling into the rental car, I suggested we get some coffee and review our meeting notes before heading off to the museum. Due to the flight delay, time was at somewhat of a premium, but we managed to squeeze in the much needed coffee before heading off to meet with Dr. Simeone.

As we drove up to the museum, my initial thoughts were focused on the size of the facility and that we were being followed into the parking lot by a truck pulling a trailer sporting a slogan regarding Sunbeam Tigers on the rear door. Again I wondered what might be inside the building and the trailer.

After our arrival, we waited for Dr. Simeone in the museum's foyer while reading the various awards, signs and literature. To our right was the entrance to the museum where a large window framed a 1909 American Underslung which sat atop the platform of the diorama. An unexpected aural delight was the sound of the GT40 as it was started and moved to the shop for regular service.
Gentle Intimidation with Good Bedside Manners
A few moments later, Dr. Simeone met us and we were guided to the second floor conference room, where a table the size of a football field awaited. Now looking at the photo, you might think the good Doctor would be all business and hard as stone. But that was far from the person we met. Yes, he was very "official", but within a few moments, he was interjecting occasional humorous tid-bits and displaying an almost unexpected warmer side.

A "Preservationist of Wheels"

The purpose of our meeting was to discuss Garagistry's efforts to Preserve Automotive History...One Car at a Time, Dr. Simeone's efforts as a preservationist, the collection's archives and vehicles. 

Dr. Simeone noted the focus of the museum and driving inspiration of his automotive passion are "The Spirit of Competition". As you might guess, each of the vehicles within the Foundation's collection are race cars. Our conversation then moved to his focus on the self-guided responsibility to protect and preserve these cars for future generations.  

"I used to race one of the Jaguars, but came to the realization these all original cars should not be driven in actual competitive events any longer. They are too important, and too valuable, although their value is not my reason. In the event of an accident, they will never be original again and in the worst case, may be damaged beyond realistic efforts of restoration."

Dr. Simeone then referenced the accident at this year's Goodwood event where two multimillion dollar Classics collided in a horrific crash. He was thankful no one lost their life, but his displeasure over the foolishness of destroying these two originals was very clear. 
Crash sequence photo source - The Daily Mail
Preservation NOT Restoration

Dr. Simeone's second passion is to have people appreciate original unrestored Classics in the same manner as original art, antique furniture and historic architecture. He also wants these historic preservation principles and values to adhere to the preservation of Classic cars (vehicles). 

Quoted from an article in Metropolis magazine,"Typically, the mentality of car collectors favors perfection over preservation. Dr. Simeone wants to steer collectors away from extreme restoration to a philosophy of authenticity but 'Right now we’re more of a hobby than a history'.”

Every Classic has a Story

One of our aligning principals regarding the "hobby" is the increasing dependance on documentation (photographs, papers, reports, receipts, etc.) as a form of credibility attesting to the provenance and condition of any Classic. 

A part of our discussion was about our service, the ways Garagistry provides every owner with the tools to catalog and protect all of the documentation and history associated with their Classic(s) and how our process can assist the efforts of preservationists. Our basic premise is, "It may still be mostly a hobby, but it is filled with history that's disappearing, thus why we exist."

More About the Museum
At the close of our meeting, Dr. Simeone invited us to tour the museum and take pictures. Walking past the entrance, the size of the building is somewhat overwhelming. The collection is broken down into almost two dozen sections, each featuring a diorama depicting the time period and location of the Classics on display. The cars themselves carry an almost unbelievable level of authenticity and history, although some have been restored prior to their addition to the museum.
The Annex and Workshop
After winding past the Mille Miglia displays including a detailed replica of an early Riforimento (gas station), you will come to the entrance to the Annex and where the Workshop is hidden away from the main foot traffic.

The annex includes a combination of cars from the early 1900's to more modern race cars including some from NASCAR, the Hill Climbs of the '50's and Dirt Track racers.
Opposite the Annex is the workshop, which I probably would have spent an inordinate amount of time inside, if we would have had the additional time to spare.
More to Come

We expect to be back at the museum in the not-too-distant future, but until then, please visit the museum website for more information, the schedule of events and demo days. You can also take a virtual tour by downloading the Simeone Museum app for iPhone and Android devices

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