Glendale, Arizona – January 2023 – Martin Auto Museum

The final stop on the Phoenix area car extravaganza is the Martin Auto Museum.

The Mel Martin Auto Museum recently moved to a much larger facility on Thunderbird Road in Phoenix. One great aspect of this museum is you are allowed to open the doors, and get in the cars if you like, on nearly all of the collection.

The facility is well lit, and nicely spaced out.

We start our tour with a couple of Crosley’s tucked back in a corner.

I can see Elvis cruising down the Strip in Las Vegas in this 1964 Ford Thunderbird.

The exquisite tail end of a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado.

A early 1950s Ford Woody Wagon. Ford dropped Woodies in 1951, although they made a faux comeback in the 1960s, but they weren’t real wood like this.

A front look at this 1949 Ford Custom.

I have always been more of a Ford fan than Chevrolet, but this Ranchero in my opinion is nowhere near as cool as an El Camino. Also fairly certain it is looking at envy at the Porsche parked in front of it.

A nice looking mid 1960s Studebaker Wagonaire.

Mel was a hard worker his entire life, and one of his early successes was a towing business, which is represented here by a 1928 Graham Tow Truck.

This long machine is a late 1930s Packard. The hood ornament on this car was one that was featured in the earlier posting of a collection of them.

While many of the vehicles are restored to their original condition, some, like this very cool 1951 Studebaker Pickup, have been heavily customized.

The last car on this visit is, according to Internet research, a 1905 Cadillac.

The Martin Auto Museum has a motto of ‘Please Touch the Cars’. That alone makes it a great visit, but coupled with the low admission cost, great collection and spacious setting makes it a must for any auto enthusiast who is in the area.

Scottsdale, Arizona – January 2023 – The Art of Hood Ornaments

In days past most cars had hood ornaments used primarily to communicate the brand. Most of the very early ones also served as radiator caps.

Our look at this art form on the hood start with a 1930s Cadillac. It was known as the Flying Goddess, and was available on Cadillacs up until the late 1950s.

Having failed to note what car this is on, this ‘coiled cobra’ hood ornament only shows up on a 1931 Isotta Fraschini using a Google Images search.

Another Goddess, this one is the Packard Goddess of Speed.

Another great Packard hood ornament. Supposedly patterned on the family crest, it has been called a pelican or sometimes a cormorant.

The 1930 Cadillac LaSalle ornament is leading the way.

The emblem below the ornament indicates this is a 1932 Cadillac LaSalle.

The Cadillac LaSalle series continues with this 1938.

A similar look to the Cadillac, this art deco style ornament is from a 1930s Packard.

The Quail from a 1930s Ford.

This Chevrolet of he same time period has this ornament known as the Confederate

As we move into the 1950s Oldsmobile the ornaments are much more streamlined.

Our final ornament is a swan from an unidentified car. Feel free to identify.

Scottsdale, Arizona – January 2023 – Penske Racing Musuem

Roger Penske is a long time auto racing team owner, with his cars racing, primarily in Indy Car and Nascar. He is also the owner of numerous business, including many car dealerships.

In the middle of an auto mall of luxury cars such as Lamborghini and Ferrari there is a Penske Racing Museum, with a few of his more famous race cars.

In 1969 Penske had his first entry in the Indy 500 – this Lola. It was driven by Mark Donohue, who qualified 4th but finished 7th.

Penske Racing and Donohue won Indy in 1927 with this McLaren M16B Offenhauser.

The 1984 Indy 500 winner, with a March chassis and a Cosworth engine (as nearly every entry that year were). It was driven by Rick Mears.

This 2018 car was another Indy 500 winner, driven by Will Power. It was Penske’s 17th win at Indy as an owner. The car was powered by a Chevrolet V6 engine.

More Indy cars from over the years.

2018 Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car

Tom Sneva Penske PC-5 1977 Indy 500 car. He is famous for being the first driver to qualify with a lap over 200 MPH. While he did well in the race he ended up finishing second to A.J. Foyt.

Danny Sullivan’s 1985 Indy 500 winner, another March chassis with a Cosworth engine. This race is famous for Danny doing a 360 degree spin while fighting for first place, and not crashing, later to retake 1st place for the win.

The final car is the 1972 Pontiac 442 that was the pace car for the Indy 500. The Penske Racing Museum in Phoenix is worth the visit if you are in the area. While it isn’t very large, the cars are unique, and the cost is great – it is free.

Scottsdale, Arizona – January 2023 – Barrett Jackson Auto Auction Part 3

Today’s posting looks as some of the more distinctive ‘noses and tails’ of the classic cars and trucks.

A late 1960s Pontiac GTO

Followed by the next generation GTO from the early 1970s. Personally I think it was a step backwards.

1946 Ford Pickup with a great color combination of cream and red.

The 1956 Ford Thunderbird tail end.

A 2009? Ford GT.

A late 1950s Cadillac.

1959 Ford Fairlane Skyliner.

A long lean mean custom 1962 Lincoln Continental.

We jump ahead a few decades to a 2016-2017ish Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

Back to the 50s with this 1951 Nash Rambler.

A late 1950s Porsche 356 Speedster. Sometimes simple is best.

Our final nose is on a 1939 Cadillac Series 61.

Scottsdale, Arizona – January 2023 – Barrett Jackson Auto Auction Part 2

The Barrett Jackson Auction is so large that many automotive vendors have exhibits, with entire massive tents set up for them.

A company called Radical Racing of Canada build reasonably priced (for race cars) ready to race cars.

A prototype Lincoln Star.

A group known as the Future Car Collectors had a show on the grounds as well, with some very cool cars in a great setting.

Let’s take a closer look at the purple Lamborghini Diablo. Not really sure why they call it a future car collector, as this has clearly been collectable for decades.


Volvo wagons aren’t normally the type of car to be tricked out, but it works.

There were some great paint jobs.

Another in the category of ‘not normally tricked out’ – a Tesla.

After checking out the Future Car Collectors show I made my way to a row of very long tents, with even more cars headed to the auction.

A customized 1935 Chrysler Airflow.

A 1930 Chevrolet Paddy Wagon.

1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham Custom Sedan.

Another customized classic – a 1957 Lincoln Continental Mark II. Note the size of the tent, 5 rows of cars that was about 300′ long, and there were 6 of these tents in addition to the huge completely indoor tents seen in Part 1 of the auction.

Scottsdale, Arizona – January 2023 – Barrett Jackson Auto Auction Part 1

This is the first in a series of automotive postings from a fantastic day in the Phoenix area, starting with the legendary Barrett Jackson Auto Auction.

I went to preview day for the auction, so the facility was stuff with almost 2000 cars to be auctioned. In addition there was a complementary custom car show outside, as well as a collection of prototypes and other vehicles from the major manufacturers, and a collection of petroliana. Car junkie paradise.

We start with a 2021 Ferrari SF90.

2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS.

The famous wing of a 1970 Plymouth Superbird along with a great roadrunner neon sign.

1960 Chevrolet Corvette Custom Convertible.

1959 Mercedes Benz 190 SL Roadster.

2005 Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren

1953 Chevrolet Corvette 235/150 Convertible.

1948 Chevrolet Custom Cab over Engine Pickup.

1968 Jaguar XKE 1.5 Roadster.

1953 Chevrolet Suburban Custom

1948 Chevrolet 5 Window Custom Pickup.

1935 Ford Deluxe Woody Wagon.

1940 Ford Custom Pickup

1965 Porsche 911.

Benson, Arizona – January 2023 – Forever Home Donkey Rescue & Sanctuary

Just down the road from Gammons Gulch Movie Set is the Forever Home Donkey Rescue. We had called both and made arrangements to tour both on the same day. We made our way to the donkey rescue where we met Tish, one of the owners.

Tish told us how she came to run a donkey rescue, and it shows again that there are just some great people in the world who care about taking care of animals who, through no fault of their own, has had a rough life.

Donkeys are considered ‘worthless animals’ in the west, and as a result many are abused. One such way is by rodeo people who use them to train how to rope animals, causing permanent damage to their legs. Once they are in that state, the rodeo people no longer want them. This is where Tish and her husband (and a great group of volunteers) come in.

The rodeo is just one way they have rough lives, there are many others. But once they make it to see Tish they are in, as their name states, their forever home!

Each have names and individual personalities.

This character I will always remember, Boaz. Tish gave us a pile of animal crackers to feed to them, and Boaz was the first we met, and likely the loudest.

But with a few animal crackers he is your best friend.

Each have their own stall, but fear not, once we met each the gates to the stalls were opened and the donkeys were allowed to roam the 30 acres to their hearts content.

This is Casper, a mini mule. The staff says think of a teen age rebel and that is Casper.

A Jenny is the term for a female donkey. This is Tula, the head Jenny.

She was living in the wild on one of the Native American reservations in Arizona, and is said to still be pretty wild, although she was very calm and happy to see us, with our animal cracker treats.

Tish told us to wait before giving this guy his crackers until he did his trick – which is an amusing display of his tongue. We happily obliged. His name is Jasper.

Jasper came to the sanctuary with really bad hooves from an improper diet, and still has issues with them, but as you can see is a fun guy.

The donkeys are gentle enough that I was welcomed into any of the pens that I wanted, allowing for unobstructed photos.

This is Carter, a fairly recent arrival. They say he is a bit on the chubby side, but I am certain a steady diet of animal crackers will help that (to be fair they don’t only eat animal crackers, the staff is knowledgeable on donkey care and their main diet is much healthier – the animal crackers are used to get them to play nice with visitors.)

Eventually the gates were opened and the donkeys wandered off around the farm, although they stayed close by the pens by their own choice. Here we take another look at Jasper as he is ready to head out of his pen.

Jasper’s close up.

This is Justice. He was a rescue from another rescue, who came in with a hoof issue as well.

Of course Boaz and one of his buddies insisted on a close up.

Boaz and Justice for their close up (or treats). The Forever Home Donkey Rescue and Sanctuary is one of those places doing good in the world. I highly recommend checking them out, and offering them any support you can.

A big thanks to Suzanne from the sanctuary for helping me identify each of them.

Benson, Arizona – January 2023 – Gammons Gulch Movie Set

For more than 40 years Jay Gammon and his wife Joann have been building structures for their old west movie set. According to IMDB more than 40 productions have filmed there, which I am certain is a low count.

Today Jay is in a nursing home and his wife Joann, with the help of others continue to maintain the set. On this day Joann unlocked the building but their dog Gus was our main tour guide, as he seemed walk around with a ‘follow me’ attitude.

There are a number of buildings that make a perfect old west town set.

The set/town includes all the required buildings including a saloon with swinging doors and an old piano. Joann told us one of the film productions said ‘we need a saloon for our filming – is it ok if we build one?’ Of course she said yes!

The town hall with a 1931 Buick parked inside, as well as a number of items celebrating the renown 1934 capture of John Dillinger in Tucson.

The building itself was once a flour mill in Safford, Arizona. It was deconstructed and brought piece by piece back to Gammons Gulch and reassembled as the town hall.

They have done a great job of collecting items for each building, like these cool old keys for the jail cells.

Once Joann had unlocked all of the buildings she gave us a brief overview and said ‘have a good time’, and off we went exploring.

This building is their Welcome Center, and they proudly note that the walls came from a building in Benson, and the large beam on the ceiling came from a 1920s ‘house of ill repute’ in Tucson.

The Mercantile Building was constructed onsite, but like all of the others is filled with items they collected over the years.

These buildings change their signs to reflect whatever each production company needs them to be. In addition they serve as the dressing rooms for the cast.

The church/school at the end of town had the gallows just outside, along with a nearby cemetery. The church/school was constructed for a 2009 movie called ‘Mattie’.

The cross is easily removed when it is supposed to be a school.

The trunks waiting on the 3:10 to Yuma.

In addition to the old car in the town hall, there are a couple of other classic rides parked around town. This backside of the main street serves as a 1920s setting.

A nearby hill provided a nice overview of the town and the surrounding area. Joann and Gus the dog are happy to have you visit, but call ahead as they often have filming occurring – they told me one of the guys from Dukes of Hazard was in town this week to film something.

Benson, Arizona – January 2023 – Train Park

The small town of Benson, Arizona is along the Southern Pacific lines about 60 miles east of Tucson. Amtrak trains stop here 6 times a week, 3 eastbound and 3 westbound.

Technically the official Amtrak station is a little metal shelter, but fortunately the town has built a replica of the original station, which is used as a visitor center.

The area on both sides of the visitor center serve as a small train park, complete with a caboose.

The wall that separates the tracks from the station and parking lot has a series of murals and emblems, mostly of railroad related items, but also some local history.

With more than 40 freight trains a day passing through town, it was inevitable one would provide a photo op.

The lady at the visitor center is enthusiastic and helpful, making a brief stop here worthwhile.

Tucson – January 2023 – Rodeo Parade Museum Carriages

Each February Tucson hosts La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, aka the Rodeo. Each year a parade precedes the event, featuring numerous vintage wagons and carriages. A number of buildings on the rodeo grounds hold the museum, which has over 100 of these items.

Because Tucson has long been a home to western movie making, many of them have been featured in Hollywood films.

An early paddy wagon.

This little wagon is known as a Governess Cart.

A brougham.

A small carriage used in the TV show Gunsmoke.

A Landau carriage.

A Victorian Hearse.

Your basic farm wagon.

An early Tucson Fire Department vehicle.

Many business sponsor wagons for the parade.

A stylish 8 passenger wagon.

The milk man cometh.

Rolling out the barrels.

The circus wagon is in town.

We end this tour with an old horse trailer from a 1940s movie star.