Adam and Abhi were recently at Iconic East to work on the new building and scope out local events/venues that we want our friends to check out when they come visit us. One of the things we saw was the Newport Car Museum, so here’s what Abhi thought!

As you can probably tell from the name, the focus here is on cars and not bikes. There’s more than 95 cars but just six motorcycles in the entire museum, so I’ll knock out the bikes and then share a few car-related highlights, otherwise this would be a very short post!

The first bike is actually in the lobby – a 2004 Honda Rune that sits atop a large diamond plate stand.

If you head to the right of the Rune, you’ll get to all the cars. If you head to the left, you’ll enter a room that has all of the remaining motorcycles. First up is a 2003 Harley-Davidson V-Rod 100th Anniversary Edition.

They also had a couple of toy models of the same bike:

1970 Honda CB750

There was also a trio of mid-2000s BMWs. If you’ve been following us on social media you probably know I’m a huge BMW nerd, but I’m not really sure why these three were in a museum. I’m not sure the museum knows either – the Beemers are sort of cast off to the side and they don’t have any signs or information of note. You could have easily convinced me that they were just in long term storage.

2006 BMW F650GS

2005 BMW R1200RT

2005 BMW R1200GS

One cool thing about the motorcycle room was the wall art, which was a series of square photos of wheels from different cars that are in the museum. I wasn’t able to determine a specific reason for the order but I liked the visuals.

Alright, let’s head to the other side of the Rune and towards the cars. You’ll head past the gift shop through a hallway of quotes from automotive legends:

I don’t think he had CB160s in mind when he said this!

The museum currently has seven exhibits for cars – I’ll show you my favorite from each one:

  1. American Muscle: “Then & Now” – 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
I also liked the platforms with the subtle lighting, it classes up the joint.

Corvettes – 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport (Recreation)
Chevy originally planned on building 125 Grand Sports for homologation purposes but General Motors canceled their racing plans in 1962, shutting down Grand Sport production in the process. By that point, only five had been built, two of which were sold to privateers. The small production run meant that GM could only race in the SCCA C Modified class, but they did have some fun at Nassau Speed Week against the Shelby Cobra.

  1. Fin Cars – 1954 Kaiser Darrin 161
    Named after Henry Kaiser (founder of the company), Howard “Dutch” Darrin (the designer of the car), and the engine displacement (161 cubic inches/2.7 L), this car utilized a Willy’s F-head inline six cylinder engine good for 90 horsepower.

Period reviews were generally favorable though the car was expensive and Kaiser only sold 435 of them. The plastic roof was an absolute pain to install but the main reason I’m sharing this car with you is the doors – they don’t open on hinges, they slide in and out of the fender. The door lock was basically a hook and there was no way to open them from the inside (not that it was much of a reach to grab the handle from the outside, but still).

There’s obviously a lot more to the Kaiser story – check out this story on Below the Radar if you want to learn some stuff!

  1. Ford Shelby – this was the hardest for me to pick just one from, so I won’t!
    An original Shelby 427 SC Cobra.

1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe (Recreation)

1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R – apparently when Ford’s President at the time (Lee Iacocca) asked Shelby to make a race car out of the Mustang, Shelby laughed and called it a “secretary’s car.” The result was the 350R, and it won the SCCA National Sports Car B Championship. Shelby made 2 prototypes and 34 production cars – the museum has #27 and they later also ended up with #27 of the tribute that Ford built in 2015.

  1. Mopars – 1970 Plymouth Superbird Six Pack
    Unlike what’s happening with MotoGP bikes today, the Superbird features aerodynamics that I love the styling of. The “Six Pack” referred to the three sets of two-barrel carbs that helped the 440 cubic inch motor produce a claimed 390 horsepower and 490 foot-pounds of torque.

One of the best logos in automotive history. Plus, the horn makes the Roadrunner “beep beep” sound:

  1. Porsche 1956 Porsche 356a Speedster
    The museum actually has one example from every year that Porsche offered the Speedster: 1956, 1989, 1994, 2011 and 2019. The oldest is my favorite:

What a lovely interior:

I’m one of those people that thinks most new Porsches all look way too similar – I know they’re wonderful to drive but they don’t appeal to me aesthetically and they’re absurdly common in Los Angeles. The newest (2019) Speedster looks different but the paint/decals seems like a mess to me. I appreciate that it’s got a 6-speed manual transmission, though!

  1. World Cars – 1955 Mercedes-Benz SLR Millie Miglia (Recreation)
    There was also a Ferrari 250 GTO clone in this exhibit but those get too much attention nowadays anyway. Stirling Moss called the SLR “The greatest sports racing car ever built – really an unbelievable machine.” Moss won the Millie Miglia with this car, which was the most successful race car of the year (but Mercedes retired the car after a year due to a crash at the Le Mans 24 hours which killed 85 people.)

It’s not just fast, it’s stylish both outside and inside!

There’s even a tenuous connection to Ducati motorcycles from well before the AMG sponsorship – Mercedes opted to go with desmodromic valves.

A hardtop version that was owned by Mercedes sold at auction for $143 million – making it the most expensive automobile sale ever at auction (nearly tripling the second place value). Here’s a nice video on the original, if you’re interested.

So that’s the Newport Car Museum in a nutshell – go check it out yourself the next you’re out in Rhode Island!

Afterwards, Adam and I went from the museum to Vigilant Brewing as they are making an “Iconic” beer for us and they wanted us to try a couple of samples. You don’t have to ask me twice!

My girlfriend VyVy gave me a “travel buddy” named Baby Jackfor when she can’t join me on trips. He tried a flight – his favorite was the Dread Red Ale, which is”brewed to benefit the courageous men and women of the Dreadnaught Hook, Ladder & Hose Co. #1-Bristol FD.

What a lush.

I feel like there wasn’t enough bike content in this post, so I’ll leave you with this Ducati Desmosedici that was dropped off at our east coast location in Bristol, Rhode Island. We imported this bike (#669 out of 1,500) from South Africa and sold it to a client in New York a couple of years ago. He’s looking to mix up his collection so he’s selling the Desmosedici as well as a gorgeous 0-mile MV Agusta F4 Oro that he acquired from us previously (let us know if you’re interested!).

Unfortunately, when we fired up the Desmosedici it wasn’t happy – our best guess is that a plug is fouled so we’re sending it over to our California location for a full service and then we’ll auction it off from there.

Thanks for reading!

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