Sunday, May 09, 2010

"fabled luxury"

Outside, it's just another building in an Oxnard office park — though it's the only one flying the flags of the U.S. and France.

Inside, it's an homage to automotive luxury, an assemblage of French Art Deco cars of the 1930s and 1940s with such fabled names as Hispano-Suiza, Delahaye and Delage. Shown above is a 1939 Delahaye Type 165 Cabriolet.

They are the kind of cars that cost small fortunes and inspire great passions. As the British actor and bon vivant Peter Ustinov put it: "One, of course, drives an Alfa Romeo and one is driven in a Rolls-Royce, but one gives only a Delage to one's favorite mistress."

In the building once used by the late Times publisher Otis Chandler for his collection of muscle cars and hunting trophies, a Los Angeles philanthropist named Peter Mullin is offering jaw-dropping views — by appointment only, at — of French luxury cars and furnishings of a certain age.

Opened last month, the Mullin Automotive Museum displays more than 100 rare vehicles, mostly with bodies custom-made by French carriage builders.

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