PORTSMOUTH, R.I.– June of 2022 marks five years that the Newport Car Museum has been in existence, and to commemorate this momentous occasion, five “new” automobiles have been added to the privately owned collection of more than 85 rare and exotic cars always on display in six galleries and a Pop-Up Porsche Exhibit. The new acquisitions are (in order of appearance, clockwise, in photo): the 1965 Ferrari 250 GTO (Re-Body), 2020 Shelby Mustang GT500, 2019 Ford GT, 1957 Isetta Bubble Top, and 1975 Porsche 911S Targa.
The Newport Car Museum has grown significantly in size and reputation since it first opened its doors with 65 cars in 2017. The Museum’s artistic vibe, which positions cars as art against the backdrop of specially commissioned paintings and wall graphics, studio lighting, award-winning videos and an impressive collection of Mid-Century Modern furniture, has gained it recognition as one of the top car museums in the country, if not the world.
More About the Cars
1965 Ferrari 250 GTO (Re-Body) – This is the Museum’s first Ferrari and the marque’s most interesting one at that. Considered by many to be the most beautiful sports car in the world, the Ferrari 250 GTO is also one of the rarest and most desirable, since it was the last front-engine racing sports car that was competitive on the world stage. (One hundred cars were to be homologated for Grand Touring competition, but only 36 were constructed.)
The Ferrari GTO’s record on the track made it a legend. It dominated in races all over Europe, including the FIA GT World Championship, which it won in 1962, ’63, and ’64. The battle between the Ferrari GTOs and the Shelby Cobra Daytonas at the 1964 Le Mans resulted in a 1-2-3 finis
h for the GTOs and fourth place for the Cobra Daytona. Two years later, the Ford and Shelby American GT40s would finish 1-2-3 at the historic 1966 Le Mans, ending Ferrari’ s longstanding dominance.
The Museum’s 250 GTO started life as a 1964 Ferrari 250 Lusso and was re-bodied as a 1964 250 GTO using the original bucks and body patterns from the 1962 250 GTO #3223 (the first GTO built by Scaglietti). The V12 was built to GTO specifications, as was the suspension, brakes and running gear. The interior is replicated to represent exactly that of the World Championship winning 250 GTO.
1975 Porsche 911S Targa – Nothing screams sports car like the iconic Porsche 911. In continuous production since 1964, the 911 has been delivered in many variations, trim levels, and an ever-increasing amount of performance and road manners. (The Museum has an entire Pop-Up Porsche Exhibit devoted to the marque.)
The 911S nomenclature and the Targa body style were first introduced in 1966. The Targa design allows for full-width roof panel removal and the S designation was the top-of-the line performance option for normally aspirated Porsches until the introduction of the 930 Turbo in 1975.
The Targa has been a stalwart of the 911 lineup since 1966 when Porsche put a distinctive roll hoop on the 911 Cabrio, because they thought the U.S. was going to outlaw full convertibles. Since the U.S. was an important convertible market, the Targa was the solution to provide rollover protection. (The U.S. never did outlaw convertibles).
2019 Ford GT – Rated for 647 hp and a top speed of 216 mph, this mid-engine supercar is a flat-out race car that has been legalized for road use and is a masterpiece of minimalism. Apart from the infotainment system, the cockpit contains nothing that is neither functional nor necessary.
The car is powered by a mid-engine twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The two-seater carbon-fiber body is hand-built and everywhere on the bodywork there is an aero device, from the wing-profile flying buttresses that link the outrigger to the central body and channel intake air to the engine to the rear lights that are hollow and vent air from the intercoolers. There’s also an underbody diffuser, splitter and flat undertray, and an active rear wing that creates massive down force.
1957 Isetta Bubble Top – The Museum already has one of these funny little micro cars on the floor, but it’s adding the Bubble Top edition (at 7’ 5” long and 4.5’ wide) to emphasize one of the most forward-thinking cars of its time. Powered by a 298cc single-cylinder BMW motorcycle engine with a 4-speed manual transmission, the Isetta was the first mass-production car to achieve 78 miles per gallon.
Initially manufactured by an Italian company that made refrigerators (and indeed the car looks somewhat like it belongs in the kitchen rather than on the road), the Isetta was produced in a number of countries by a number of companies, though most notably it was BMW who marketed the Isetta very intelligently and aggressively.
The Isetta saved BMW from financial ruin after WWII. The company’s factories had been heavily damaged, and the German and European economies were in shambles. The Isetta was a small, inexpensive, fuel-efficient car that could fit two people and navigate narrow European streets. BMW sold 161,728 Isettas between 1955 and 1962.
2020 Shelby Mustang GT500 – This is the most powerful street-legal Ford product to date, blending modern sports-car performance with iconic muscle-car presence. It builds on the same racetrack-capable chassis as the Shelby GT350, with an additional 234 hp (for a total of 760 hp) that lends it credibility on the drag strip as well.
At the heart of this car is a 5.2-liter V8 affixed with a 2.65 liter Eaton supercharger, a variation on Ford’s modular V8, which the company calls the “Predator.” It’s a showcase of brute strength wrapped in a sophisticated package designed to be the best, no matter who is behind the wheel.
More About the Newport Car Museum
The Newport Car Museum tells the story of automotive history in chapters covering Ford/Shelby, Corvettes, World Cars, Fin Cars, MoPars and American Muscle Cars. Within 18 months of its 2017 opening, it was included in USA Today’s “Top 10 Best New Attractions” and named Yankee Magazine’s “Best Specialty Museum.” It also has won an award from the National Association of Automobile Museums for its originally produced historic videos and in 2021 won Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice award for a second consecutive year and further designation as among the top 10% of attractions worldwide.
The Newport Car Museum is handicap accessible and hours are daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets can be bought at the door or online at www.newportcarmuseum.org (401-848-2277). Regular admission: $19/adults; $15/Seniors, Military, Students; $9/Ages 5-12 (with an adult); Free/Ages 4 and under (with an adult) https://newportcarmuseum.org
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