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Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum

Alex and I visited the Crawford Museum in University Circle on Cleveland's east side (not far from the famed Cleveland Clinic) on a recent Saturday. The Museum is operated by the Western Reserve Historical Society.

An overall view of the upstairs gallery.

My primary objective was to get some shots of the Museum's two Jordans to illustrate my last post, but as you'll see there's a lot more to the collection than that.

We'll start the tour in the lower-level gallery with the oldest car in the collection, an 1895 Panhard et Levassor with color-keyed rims.

Les roues, ne sont-ils pas beaux ?

Many of the cars in the Crawford collection were built in and around Cleveland, like this 1899 Winton.

Again with the color-keyed wheels.....

Not sure what this unrestored "barn find" is; there was no placard. I like the seating arrangement.

Note the pinstriping on the wheels.

Come away with me Lucille, in my Curved Dash Oldsmobile....

"A runabout. I'll steal it! NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW!" -- Dan Backslide (coward, bully, cad, and thief!) in "The Dover Boys..."

This 1904 Royal Tourist was also built in Cleveland.

The vertically-mounted straight-two engine produced 16 HP.

There are quite a few steam-powered cars in the collection. Here we see a Franklin and a Stanley.

Not recommended for carpet cleaning.

Here's a car you've never heard of, a 1908 Elmore:

A company so obsure it has no Wikipedia entry.

This runabout was available by mail order from Sears, Roebuck & Co. in 1909. It arrived with "some assembly required," I would suspect.

Sears would also sell you the garage to park it in--as a kit, of course.

This is a 1910 Stearns touring car.

Stearns used aluminum body panels and a 17-step paint process.

Stearns was noted for its use of the Knight sleeve-valve engine in cars marketed under the name "Stearns-Knight." In a sleeve-valve engine, the intake and exhaust ports are in the sides of the cylinders, and are opened and closed by the movement of a cylindrical sleeve fitted around the cylinder. This hand-cranked display unit demonstrates how the Knight engine works:

You want a "hemi?" I got yer "hemi" right here, pal!

The Knight engine was smooth and ghostly quiet, but like all sleeve-valve engines it was expensive to build--limiting its use to high-end cars. Engines with "poppet" valves (the kind we use today) worked just about as well and were much cheaper. Sleeve valves were used in some high-performance World War Two aircraft, but disappeared from automotive applications in the mid-1930s.

Also from 1910, this Hupmobile which drove around the world as a publicity stunt:

Come away with me, Lucille, in my well-worn Hupmobile....

Here's a 1916 Owen Magnetic, which had its gasoline engine hooked to a generator and an electric motor driving the wheels. Think of it as the Chevy Volt's great-grandfather.


The electric transmission was expensive, and had no noticable performance advantage over its conventional competition. 700 Owen Magnetics were sold between 1915 and 1921; this is one of only four still in existence.

Sitting next to the '29 Jordan is this 1926 Chandler roadster. I love the snappy two-tone scheme on this one.

Dear Toyota: I suggest you start painting your Camrys like this; it'll give them a little excitement. They need all they can get. Sincerely, CTDO.

Another car you never heard of: a 1924 Rollin, built by the Cleveland Tractor Company.

Wouldn't you rather be rollin' in a Rollin?

There are several Packards in the collection, including this block-long 1930 model.

"Ask the man who owns one."

In the Art Deco department, we have a 1934 Chrysler Airflow,...

A little too ahead of its day for its own good.

...a 1941 Cadillac,...

It really was "The Standard of the World" then.

....that hot-rodder's favorite, the 1940 Willys 440 coupe,...

Note the "sharknose" grille treatment.

...and a magnificent Cord 812.

Drool, drool, slobber, covet, WANT!

This AMC AMX show car is a non-functional fiberglass mockup fitted with a daring, yet wildly impractical, "Ramble Seat" in the trunk area.The "Ramble Seat" never made it into production. You were surprised by this?

The Ramble Seat option never made it into production. You were surprised by this?

The electric car collection includes several Cleveland-built Bakers...

Note the "electric blue" wheels on the closest one.

...and a 1915 Rauch & Lang with suicide doors and duplicate controls permitting it to be driven from the back seat. Here's the "R&L" next to the collection's EV-1 and a 1924-vintage electric go-kart.

My mother in law would really like the "back seat driver" option on the R&L.

I'm not sure the EV-1 has much better range than the R&L--but it has a sound system and cupholders! Who says there's no such thing as progress?

There's a 1964 Avanti in the collection, but this is no ordinary 1964 Avanti.

...not that *any* Avanti is truly ordinary...

Only nine production Avantis were built with the optional 304.5 cubic inch supercharged 300+ HP R3 engine--and this particular R3 is in fact the very last Avanti built by Studebaker. It's in unrestored condition with less than 10,000 miles on it.

"If Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore drove to a tiki bar for cocktail hour, they'd be driving there in an Avanti."

It's parked next to a "Forward Look" Chrysler 300D, which makes this the swankest spot in the entire Museum.

"Give me the full Don Draper treatment."

The upstairs gallery is not as well lit, which forced me to use low-light mode on my camera, which made it very susceptible to camera shake. Not all the photos I took up there were presentable. Gives me an excuse to go back, I suppose.

Here we see a 1905 Hupmobile and a 1910 Stevens-Duryea.

The wall displays tell the life story of the Museum's founder, Frederick C. Crawford.

Also found upstairs is this 1907 Woods Mobilette cyclecar. About three quarters the size of a "real" car, it seats two in a semi-tandem arrangement--the passenger's seat is set back by the axle, and the passenger's feet end up next to the driver's hip.

When it grows up, it wants to be a Model T

There were three other cars on display that I found particularly interesting, but I want to save them for a separate post of their own.

The aviation collection concentrates on the National Air Races, which were held in Cleveland from 1929 to 1949.

"...make my way back home when I learn to fly...."

The Museum is open from 10 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday. It's co-located with the WRHS's other museums and its library, and one admission gets you in to the entire complex.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner


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I find it hard to generate more than an intellectual interest in the incredibly early turn-of-the-century iron - but right around the '30s, things get interesting. I *love* the Airflow - there's a De Soto Airflow at the Henry Ford Museum that is intoxicatingly lust-inducing.

The AMX rumble seat is perplexing in a few ways. First ... a rumble seat? On a semi-modern sports car? Second ... would you really rather have a rumble seat than a functional trunk? Third ... what's the point of a rumble seat when you'd simply be staring at the bottom of the trunk? Check out the sight line.

That all-original Avanti R3 is incredible. Cookie, I'm surprised you haven't hocked every possession you own to try to purchase that.

That '26 Chandler is killer. I want one!

Can you imagine parallel parking that 1930 Packard? It'd be easier to park a bus.

I love the veteran cars. The unrestrained inventiveness and enthusiasm of the era was fantastic. There was just no precedent at all for what a car "should" look like or how it should work, or even how to make it go. Anyone who thinks cars pre-1905 were "primitive" should read some back issues of The Horseless Age magazine!

The unrestored barn find looks like a De Dion-Bouton ca.1896 to me, going from the shape and location of the steering controls, the vis-a-vis seats, and the general shape of the carriagework.

I am just floored. Those cars are amazing, some of which I have never seen before. I'll have to check this place out. Great pics.

Is that a stainless steel bodied 1967 Lincoln Continental convertible? awesome

Damn, and here I am thinking it was a museum of flying vars. ME, sad;,,(

(sorry about the all caps, but I just had to shout. George Jetson would be very, very upset)

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