Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Montana Auto Museum

Helena, MT  High 85  Low 54

P1060211I didn’t think we were ever going to get Jim and Don out of this museum. That is why we ran out of time before we could visit the Grants-Kohr Ranch. Gives us another reason to go back.

Many of these cars were originally part of the Towe Ford Museum, the largest collection of Fords (close to 300) in the world.

Then the IRS became involved.


It seems that Mr. Towe owned several banks in small towns in Montana. He sold these banks in the 1970’s and put the money in a trust and his family was paid to manage the trust and run the museum. The IRS thought the taxes owed on that sale were greater than what was actually paid.Then in the late 1970’s, Mr. Towe lost millions in the commodities market and once again the IRS said he didn’t pay enough in taxes.


Edward Towe did not like the government telling him how to run his business and began a 23 year battle with the IRS.


In 1985, Edward made an arrangement with the California Vehicle Foundation to move many of his cars to Sacramento where they established the Towe Ford Museum. The rest were still in Deer Lodge under the same name, the Towe Ford Museum.


However, in 1997, the courts finally ruled against him and the collections in both California and Montana had to be liquidated.  It was the largest sale of antique cars from one collection ever.


The cars went to Japan, Holland and many other places around the world. A large percentage, however, were purchased by local buyers which allowed them to be kept in their respective museums and both are still in operation as antique automobile museums today.


Many other brands of cars have been added to both collections and the names of the museums were changed to the Montana Auto Museum and the California Auto Museum (in Sacramento).


There was level after level after level of cars. Now you can understand why we had so much trouble getting the guys out of here.

P1060238This is a 1933 Kozy Kamp Pop-Up Trailer – “A Home Behind Your Car”. Light, strong, compact, low-hung. Open into comfy home in 90 seconds. Roomy beds for four adults. Beds open automatically with Kamp. Carries all baggage and supplies. Follows car smoothly at any speed. Allows clear rear view of traffic. Saves you dollars every night. Price: $295.00. Weight: 950 lbs. Two spring underslung chassis. Manufactured in Portland, OR during the 1930’s.

I loved this Impala. It’s a 1960 Convertible. I had a 1959 hardtop that I called Wishbone because of it’s tailfins.


A nice ‘67 Mustang.


1958 Vincent Amanda Water Scooter


More levels of cars



1974 Citi Car - The most successful electric car from the standpoint of production quantity. Built in Florida. Had a range of up to 50 miles between battery charges and the batteries could be fully recharged 400 to 500 times. 608 of these cars were produced. Price $2,988.


And for all you Harley fans out there – how about a 1964 Harley Duo-Glide


This was Jim’s favorite. A 1957 Bel Air, fuel injected 4 speed!

1957 chevy11957 chevy


  1. I'm not even a true car guy, but I'm sure I would have wanted to take a long look at that place.

  2. Awesome I too would have spent hours in there, wonderful collection.

  3. So, are you and Jim trading for a Kozy Kamp? That is a neat museum.

  4. Oh, wow, you took me right back to the day Rich and I were there. He was fascinated (as he was with anything that had wheels). I expecially enjoyed the cars from the 50s and 60s, but they were all beautiful. I thought I remembered some story in connection with California…so my memory isn't too bad! My son is now interested in Classic cars; in fact, he owns one from the 60s.

    Thanks for sharing your day, Sandie.

  5. I liked the tent trailer and the Citi Car. I could easily have skipped the rest of that museum. Which is why I always carry a book with me. :)

  6. I'm with Linda. Car museums and car shows don't ring my chimes at all.

  7. A shame the collection had to be split up.

  8. I'm not a car museum kinda kid either even though it is interesting ....
    1974 Citi Car? I didn't know that!

    Petit Jean State Park here in Arkansas has a big car todo each year ... bazillions of car enthusiasts come ...

    A guy's hog heaven...

  9. Oh my gosh. I can see where you could visit this museum for hours!!!

  10. Oh, Oh, John would be in 7th heaven. He rubbernecks and bobble heads every time he sees an old car.

  11. Certainly looks like a fun way to spend several hours.

  12. The good thing about being retired is if you don't see everything in one day, you can go back the next.

  13. I think I would have to spend a few days going through the car museums. There are a number of car shows in the Pennsylvania area each weekend, so I do get a chance to see many of them.

    One of my favorites is the 1955 Olds 88 Holiday two door without the post. I saw the perfect one a couple years ago and inquired about buying it. For only $45K, I could be the proud owner of the car. As usual, I moved on to the next cars.

  14. Wow! That is really some museum! I'm glad Ron didn't know about that. :-D

  15. Enough to make Jim forget about fishing! :cD

  16. That's a lot of cars. I too had a 1959 chevy at one time...and later a 63 black, two door, Impala - 4 on the floor with a Hurst shifter. Sure wish I had that car today. I love the old Chevy's and could easily tell year and model for the 50s and 60s.

    The other day Russ and I were out in the car and without thinking I pointed and said "57". He stepped on the brakes and slowed down. When I asked him why he said he thought I was telling him he was speeding. Not at all...I was pointing out a sweet 57 Chevy!!

  17. I might not take Joe there! He would never leave! I love the pop up trailer.

  18. A: How did I not know about this place?
    B: All I notice in the picture of the Harley is the beautiful red Schwinn Custom Deluxe behind it :)

  19. We do enjoy an auto museum now and again, and a classic car show under the trees is nice. There is a fine auto museum in Reno that we visited a few years back.

  20. I learned to drive on a '69 Mustang. What fun! Now that pop up camper is a hoot. Haven't seen any of them in the park. I don't think I would want to full time in that either. :)

  21. I think you would have a hard time getting ME out of that place !! I love old cars.

  22. That is a great museum, we have to visit this, we both love old cars.


Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.