The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, PA houses an impressive collection of cars a stones throw away from an oil refinery and an eclectic array of automotive scrap yards. The local industrial scenery is a nice counter point to the collection of preserved automotive history inside the museum. Saturday December 12th, 2015 Dr. Fred Simeone gave a presentation on the preservation of the Museum’s Shelby Daytona Coupe and the work that went into bringing the vehicle to it’s current condition. The discussion centered around explaining preservation versus restoration and chronicling the process taken to preserve the Shelby Daytona Coupe.
Dr. Simeone characterized restoration of a vehicle as an activity who’s goal is to return the condition of a car to like new or better. He sees the tendency to restore beyond ‘like new’ condition as problematic from a historical perspective and more a reflection of the restorer’s craftsmanship. A restored vehicle is significant in its representation of a specific vehicle from a particular era, but the vehicle itself may not be inherently significant. The historical value of a restored vehicle is further clouded when it is modified with modern equipment for safety and performance reasons.
The concept of preserving a vehicle relates more to the treatment of classic artwork or furniture. The intent is not to recreate a vehicle as it came off the assembly line, but to preserve a rare and historically signficant automobile as it existed. In this case the 1964 Shelby Daytona Coupe. It was one of six built to be a world beating GT race car and this particular chassis number, CSX2287 set a speed record on the Bonneville salt flats in 1965. The slide show walking through the preservation detailed the process wonderfully. Dr. Simeone’s commentary provided a generous dose of anecdottes related to the car’s history and kept the discussion more than purely technical. It was a great education on the process, theory and the vehicle itself. I look forward to future offerings on the preservation and restoration process from the museum.
The rest of the museum does not dissapoint either. The vehicles are well preserved or restored and driven at demo days throughout the drier months of the year. If you appreciate vintage sports cars and sports car racing it is worth the trip.