MCG travels to Cleveland to tour one of the oldest and greatest car museums in America, the Crawford Auto Aviation Collection. Here’s our report with a big photo gallery.
The Crawford owes both its name and its existence to a genuine automotive visionary, Frederick C. Crawford. As the president of the leading auto supplier Thompson Products, later to become TRW, Crawford was among the first to recognize the significance of automotive history and the need to preserve vintage autos. In 1937 he obtained the first old car, a 1910 Duryea, and he soon amassed a collection that was opened to the public in 1943. Known as the Thompson Auto Album and housed in a former Cadillac showroom near downtown Cleveland, it was one of the earliest auto museums in America.
Today the Crawford Auto Aviation Collection, as it is now known, is contained in a beautiful dedicated facility at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland’s cultural hub, University Circle. Expanded and refined over the decades, the collection is easily one of the best and broadest in America. A few of the famous cars whose permanent homes are at the Crawford:
+ An 1897 Panhard Levassor two-place coupe, quite possibly the earliest closed automobile still in existence—and still in original condition.
+ Three of the famed Allegheny Ludlum stainless steel Fords: a 1936 Ford Tudor Touring Sedan, 1960 Ford Thunderbird, and 1967 Lincoln Continental Convertible (lead photo above).
+ One of the stars of the collection, the one-of-one 1932 Peerless V16 with sedan bodywork by Murphy. Peerless was Cleveland’s premier automaker and the stunning V16 was its last hurrah.
There’s a priceless aviation collection at the Crawford as well, honoring the great Cleveland National Air Races and their sponsor, Thompson Products. To learn more about the museum and plan your visit, check out the Western Reserve Historical Society website. (By the way, there are countless things to see around University Circle, including the world-class Cleveland Museum of Art, and great cuisine in nearby Little Italy.) In the meantime, here’s a small sample of what you’ll see at the Crawford in the gallery below. Click on any image to start a slide show.