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CLASSIC AMERICAN CAR DISPLAY AT HILLWOOD, STARRING YOU
By JIM BYERS

For the Straight Eights’ August gathering, the uber-Gay friendly Hillwood Museum Estate and Gardens – the stately former home of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post – opens its ornate gates to offer us our own showcase – A Classic American Car Display, Sunday, August 18, 1:00–5:00 pm. Besides stunning vehicle photo ops in front of the ornate formal gardens or the sweeping Mid-Century Modern motor court portico, participating display cars will receive free admission for two (2) persons per car. All participating cars must be pre-registered. Please contact member Jim Byers (202-583-5888 or impsrule@prodigy.net) with your name(s), cell phone number and the year, make and model of your vehicle by COB, Wednesday, August 14.

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You will be an essential part of Hillwood’s current exhibition Living Artfully, which highlights the coordination involved in connecting Marjorie Merriweather Post’s seasonal residences. Audiences will learn more about Post’s fleet of vehicles and the Merriweather turboprop jet that seamlessly connected the estates and take in the beauty of classic American cars of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s provided by the Straight Eights Car Club (a chapter of Lambda Car Club International). During her residency at Hillwood from 1955 until her 1973 passing, Mrs. Post’s chauffeurs maintained thirty-four cars just like many of yours — Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and Pontiac station wagons, luxury sedans and limousines — to transport her and her staff. At one point in the late 1960s and early 1970s, several of her well-paid male staffers had their own Hillwood Mustang Owners Club (as shown in the attached photo)!

Marjorie took her personal motoring very, VERY seriously. Her view of her automobiles as objects d’art is richly detailed in an extensive feature article, “The Classic Cars Owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post: Placid and Perfect Art,” by Robert D. Adams in the spring 2012 issue of the Classic Car Club of America journal, The Classic Car. Stories of Marjorie’s many classic Packards, Rolls-Royce’s and Chrysler Imperials are detailed in the article mentioned above, illustrated with photos, build-sheets and correspondence between Marjorie and numerous coachbuilders.

“She was quite fond of her 1931 Chrysler Imperial CG LeBaron dual-cowl phaeton,” says Adams. “So much so that in 1933, when the closest body style to this dual-cowl phaeton was a dual-windshield version, she had the dual-cowl body [shipped back to Chrysler Corporation New York] removed from the 1931 chassis and placed on a new 1933 Imperial CL chassis [at a cost of $6,000 Depression-era dollars].” To allow her to ride without removing her stylish hats, Marjorie would later have a custom roof made for her new 1964 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine for an additional cost of $13,000 (just $26 less than the cost of the limo itself).

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Yes … This was a woman who LOVED her cars. In the 1960s, someone asked Frank Del Monte, one of her drivers, “How come Mrs. Post doesn’t have a Rolls Royce?” He replied “With a Cadillac, I can go to a Chevrolet dealer and they can repair me … [I]f we had a Rolls Royce, and I broke down somewhere in New England, I’d have to wait until [they] took it all the way to Washington.”

Winner of the 2007 Ally of the Year Award by the D.C. GLBT Chamber of Commerce, Hillwood's close association with the GLBT community arose over ten years ago. Beginning with the establishment of an advisory committee comprised of leaders from Washington's GLBT community in 2001, GLBT events now include the annual events Divas Outdoors and Gay Day and partnerships with One in Ten, Capital Pride, and the Straight Eights Car Club. Our association started in 2004, a lasting gift from the former Straight Eights Secretary, the late Stephen Patrick. He was an early member of the Hillwood Gay and Lesbian Advisory Committee (on which former Straight Eights President Jim Byers continues to serve).

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Hillwood is going all out to highlight the importance of Mrs. Post’s cars, even blowing up an image of the original Hess & Eisenstadt drawings for the 1964 Cadillac limo and displaying them in the Motor Court on the wall of the mansion! We look forward to a strong turnout of Straight Eights cars, as this is also a great outreach opportunity for the Club that will be a highly-publicized afternoon. Again, all participating cars must be pre-registered. Please contact member Jim Byers (202-583-5888 or impsrule@prodigy.net) with your name(s), cell phone number and the year, make and model of your vehicle by COB, Wednesday, August 14.

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Straight Eights Region
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