All the exotics on display are on loan from outside the museum collection.
We’ve often heard someone say, “That car looks like it’s going 100 mph standing still.”
This can definitely be said of the Italian-designed 1969 De Tomaso Mangusta, which will be displayed at “Exotics@ACM — Seductive Supercars,” an exhibit of high-performance grand touring cars opening May 6 at LeMay — America’s Car Museum in downtown Tacoma.
The mere sight of this hell-on-wheels sports car (photographed by Michael Craft) with seductive curves and aggressive posture can raise the hair on your arms and cause your knees to wobble.
Other cars will likely bring similar reactions. The first “rotation” of the months-long “Exotics@ACM” exhibit in the main-floor showcase gallery will include more than 20 cars, among them a 2016 Porsche GT3R, 2012 Mercedes SLS AMG, 2004 Ford GT, 1974 Maserati Bora, 2012 Aston Martin V12 Vantage, 1981 Lamborghini Countach, 2015 Ferrari 468 Speciale and ultra-rare 1973 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 “Daytona.” A second rotation, featuring different cars, will come later.
For museum exhibit curator Scot Keller, the exotics exhibit is the realization of a longtime dream.
“This is something I’ve had on my mind since we opened five years ago,” Keller says.
Planning the exhibit and scouting for cars began months ago.
“The idea was met with quite a bit of enthusiasm,” Keller says. “It’s really neat when you talk to the car community and museum membership, and they say, ‘Exotics? Supercars? I get it.’ It brings something to people’s minds.”
What’s unique about the exhibit, at least for America’s Car Museum, is that none of the cars will come from the museum’s own collection.
“This is the first exhibit we’ve done here where all of the cars come from outside collectors,” Keller says. “It’s rare that we would have an exhibit that’s mostly — or totally — made up of loaned vehicles.”
So what exactly is an exotic car or supercar? Well, there’s no “exactly.”
For the exhibit, the museum focused on “brand, design, technology and performance.”
A number of criteria are used: cars must be derived from a prestigious brand, be of limited production (1,500 or less), have great design proportions and stance, have highly crafted interiors of the finest materials, feature “technically advanced, sophisticated power trains with high specific output”; and be capable of “stunning performance, acceleration, top speed, braking and lateral acceleration.”
“The first consideration was that we wanted a certain GT design vocabulary, if you will,” Keller says. “And the cars that inspired that were certainly the Mangusta, the [Maserati] Bora and some of the really great cars from the ’70s. ”
Produced by Italian manufacturer De Tomaso from 1967 to 1971, the Mangusta features distinctive gull-wing doors over the engine and luggage compartments, Ford engines (except for one Chevrolet-powered car built for General Motors Vice President Bill Mitchell) and five-speed transaxle. Hagerty insurance lists the current value of a concours-quality 1969 Mangusta that you could roll onto the lawn at Pebble Beach at $303,000.
Some exhibit cars will add historical perspective, such as the 1992 Acura NSX. “ … Its fresh, clean-sheet design is about to offer other exotic cars a lesson in civility” is how Road & Track described the NSX at its introduction in 1990.
“The exhibit is designed to create conversation,” Keller says. “And so people may come in and say, ‘How come that car is here?’ In this case, I thought, What did that car represent? At the time it was pretty exotic. So we were lucky to get a very nice but rare white one.”
Among the eight Ferraris in the first rotation of the exhibit are a 1983 Ferrari 512 BBi and a 1973 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 “Daytona” owned by former Microsoft President Jon A. Shirley, whose collection of about 30 cars is managed by Fred Russell, president of the Northwest Alpha Romeo Club and former content coordinator for the Forza Motorsport racing video games series.
“It’s really showy and extremely rare,” Russell says of the Daytona. “They didn’t make very many in the first place and the rarest kind is the GTS, a convertible-top car. This happens to be one of the really rare ones. It only has 5,700 miles on it from new.”
The theme of “Exotics@ACM – Seductive Supercars” will extend to the museum’s annual Wheels & Heels gala June 3. The “sleek soire” will feature exotic cars, Tom Douglas cuisine, Montecristo cigars, fireworks and other delights. Price: $275 for nonmembers.
With the hit action movie “The Fate of the Furious” now in theaters, the exhibit and gala are well-timed.
“We really believe (the exhibit) is going to drive a different, younger crowd into the museum,” Keller says. “And the theme of the gala certainly speaks that attitude.”