The Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia is home to one of the world’s greatest collections of racing sports cars!
Assembled over 50 years by renowned neurosurgeon and automotive enthusiast Dr. Frederick Simeone, the museum’s collection contains over 75 historically significant race cars, representing manufacturers like Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Jaguar, Bentley, Porsche, Aston Martin, Ford and more.
The central theme of the Simeone Automotive Museum collection is “The Spirit of Competition.”
And by touring the Simeone Automotive Museum, you can see how competition lead to improvements in design and technology over the course of seven decades of racing.
Touring the Simeone Automotive Museum
The Simeone Automotive Museum is located in a 78,000 square foot building that once housed an engine remanufacturing company named Recon.
The cars are displayed in dioramas representing the famous race courses where they actually competed, such as Watkins Glen, Bonneville, Sebring, the Mille Miglia, and Le Mans.
The collection begins with a race car from 1909 and continues through the mid-1970s.
The Le Mans Exhibit
One of the most impressive exhibits at the museum is the collection of cars that competed at Le Mans.
Here you can truly see first-hand the evolution of sports cars over the course of 40 years.
One of the most eye-catching cars in this exhibit is the 1970 “Hippie” Porsche 917, nicknamed for its psychedelic paint scheme.
This futuristic-looking 600 horsepower beast finished second at Le Mans in 1970.
An adjacent exhibit shows off a few of the American-built cars that were serious competitors at this French race course.
Here you’ll find some beautiful examples of American ingenuity, including models by Stutz, duPont, Cunningham, and Ford.
This 1966 Ford GT40 MKII, which ran at Le Mans in 1966, was one of my personal favorite cars at the museum.
The Circle of Winners Exhibit
Another impressive exhibit at the museum is the Circle of Winners, made up of 5 cars that actually won some of the world’s most prestigious races.
These are not replicas of cars that won these races, they are the ACTUAL VEHICLES, preserved in their unrestored, race-ready condition!
Among them is this 1936 Bugatti 57G, one of three built and the only one of its type still in existence.
This car won the Le Mans race in 1937.
This 1952 Cunningham C-4R is another “one of three built” cars on display in the Circle of Winners.
This American-made beauty was the class winner at the 1954 Le Mans race.
This gorgeous 1958 Aston Martin won the 1958 Nurburgring (a 1000 km race in Germany).
As with every car in the museum, a detailed history/pedigree is displayed next to it.
The 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe Exhibit
Without a doubt, this 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe was THE highlight of my visit to the Simeone Automotive Museum.
If you’re even the slightest bit interested in sports cars, you know the name Carroll Shelby, and this particular vehicle is as close to a “holy grail” car as you can get!
This Cobra Daytona Coupe (one of six built) set 25 USAC/FIA world records at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, in November 1965.
It eventually wound up in the collection of record producer Phil Spector, and legend has it that Spector racked up so many speeding tickets, his lawyer advised him to get rid of the car before he lost his license!
The Salon of Sports Car Style and Design
The Salon of Sports Car Style and Design exhibit takes you on a chronological tour of automotive styling, with impressive examples from around the world.
This 1933 Squire Roadster is an example of exquisite English design.
One of three built, it was the subject of an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage (Jay pictured below with Dr. Simeone).
While this 1970 Plymouth Superbird is an example of the aerodynamic, big-block American monsters that dominated NASCAR racing in 1969-70.
In fact, the Superbird was the first advertised American-made car capable of reaching 200 mph that you could buy off a dealer’s lot!
The Patterson Gallery of Automotive Art
The second floor of the Simeone Automotive Museum is home to the Patterson Gallery of Automotive Art.
Here you’ll find a beautiful collection of oil paintings, bronze sculptures, and other assorted objects of art related to “the Spirit of Competition” theme than runs throughout the museum.
The oil paintings on canvas were painted by renowned artist Alfredo De la Maria.
Visitors can view all of these exceptional works of art as part of their tour of the Simeone Automotive Museum.
Hours and Directions
The Simeone Automotive Museum is located near the Philadelphia airport, at 6825 Norwitch Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19153.
The museum is open 6 days a week (closed Monday) – please check the museums OFFICIAL WEBSITE for the most up-to-date hours and admission prices.
The AACA Museum in Hershey, PA is consistently ranked as one of the top automotive and transportation museums in the United States!
The Swigart Auto Museum in Huntingdon County is the oldest automobile museum in the United States!
Inside the Swigart Museum, you’ll find automobiles and carriages dating back to 1896!
The Grice Museum in Clearfield County features nearly 70 classic cars on display, along with hundreds of taxidermy mounts of wild game animals from around the globe.
Whether you’re a serious automotive history buff or just looking for some kitschy fun, a visit to the Grice Museum is not one you’ll soon forget!
Jerry’s Classic Cars and Collectibles Museum in Pottsville is MUCH more than just another car museum, featuring two floors of pop culture memorabilia and dozens of beautiful automobiles.
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