Today marks the day that The Revs Institute for Automotive Research, and the Collier Collection, one of the world’s premier auto collections will open its doors to the public. The world-class effort was first started in 1986, when Miles Collier acquired the Cunningham Museum collection of longtime family friend Briggs S. Cunningham. Since that time, Mr. Collier has carefully added some of world’s most significant automobiles and also has assembled one of the finest automotive research libraries to be found anywhere.
Starting in 2000, the Collection began hosting biennial seminars that feature significant automobiles, along with preservation, restoration and shop presentations. In 2009, The Revs Institute was formed to serve as a center of scholarly study. In 2011, the Institute partnered with Stanford University to start The Revs Program at Stanford, to further automotive research and provide teaching and learning opportunities.
The video above shows what can be seen and learned during a visit to The Revs Institute and The Collier Collection. Both will now be open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for general admission, and both docent lead and group tours. All visitors must reserve tickets for specific dates and times in advance. The collection hosts more than 100 automotive masterpieces manufactured between 1896 and 1995, each of which was added because of their rarity and historical significance.
Below we have featured four of the pre-war automobiles on display to give you a hint of what is in store during a visit to the facility, with captions provided by The Collier Collection.
This is the car that changed the thinking that winning races was simply a matter of building bigger and bigger engines. In 1912 engineer Ernest Henry along with three of the best race drivers of this period convinced Peugeot of Henry’s design for a revolutionary 4-cylinder engine with twin camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Soon afterward, Peugeot was defeating their competitors who had twice the engine size. With engine refinements made for 1913, again, the French marque was victorious. The event was the Indianapolis 500; the driver was Arthur Duray; the car, the one you will find in the Revs Gallery finished second that year.
One of six team cars, and one of only three surviving cars, that gave Mercedes the first one-two-three sweep in the French Grand Prix history – marking one of the most exciting moments in motorsports, and at a critical juncture in world affairs, April of 1914 — just two weeks before the outbreak of WWI. The innovative 4-cylinder over-head camshaft engine design is based off of the highly competent and lightweight Daimler aero unit of that period. Recently awarded the Most Historically Significant Mercedes-Benz by the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, the Revs Institute’s Grand Prix car will be returning to Lyon, France for the centenary anniversary of that historic race this April.
Introduced in December 1928, the Model J Duesenberg was unabashed overkill ─ massive, weighty, of heroic proportion everywhere. Only two examples of the “super-short” 125-inch SSJ chassis, with its 8-cylinder inline engine, fitted with twin carburetors and a centrifugal supercharger were produced. (Standard wheelbase lengths were 142 ½ and 153 ½ inches.) Actor Gary Cooper was the first owner of this SSJ, which is on display in the Automobility gallery. Not to be upstaged, Clark Gable quickly decided he had to have a Duesie “just like Coop’s” and talked the local dealer into lending him the other one. A half century later the Duesenberg remains a legend.
The very last Grand Prix car to be completed and raced by the legendary Daimler-BenzRennabteilung before the war, and during the road racing era called the “Age of Titans”. This was during the 1934-1939 time period when the German state-supported Grand Prix teams of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union achieved total domination. The W154 with its sleek and highly sophisticated two-stage supercharged V-12 engine burns nearly one gallon per minute of highly volatile methanol based fuel, while creating almost 500 horsepower from its 3 liter design. These cars were considered to be of the most highly sophisticated of all racing cars of their day, and beyond.