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$100,000,000 worth of vintage cars in Contra Costa County.

Autos of style and luxury, once so important to flashy characters and notable or notorious celebrities, are on display at a new Bay Area museum. Real estate developer (and new owner of the Seattle Seahawks) Ken Behring has collected more than 200 vintage automobiles valued at more than $100 million, up to 150 of which are exhibited in the Behring Museum. It's at the foot of Mount Diablo in Danville, 30 miles east of San Francisco. Visitors not put off by the $20 admission price will get a close, in-depth look (no barrier ropes) at an impressive array of cars presented with a reverence usually accorded only to fine art. You don't have to be an avid auto buff to appreciate the sleek lines and craftsmanship of these machines many are one-of-a-kind and all are restored to, or maintained in, mint condition.

The first half of the 2-hour guided tour is on the lower level, where models ranging in vintage from 1897 to 1984 illustrate a long span of automotive history. One of the most intriguing automobiles is a 1948 Tucker, a short-lived make popularized in a recent movie. Only 51 of these innovative cars were manufactured before legal pressure (said to be instigated by larger auto companies) halted production.

The "classic" years of 1924 to 1940 are particularly well represented by largegrilled Packards and Rolls-Royces. In tracing automobile history, guides emphasize mechanical developments as well

as the evolution of coachwork design.

The tour continues upstairs to the crown jewels of the collection. Here are some of the most memorable automobiles.

A 1924 Hispano-Suiza racer, built for French aperitif heir Andre Dubonnet, features a lightweight body constructed of varnished tulipwood and held together by brass rivets.

A 1952 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, owned by Aga Khan III, is an especially luxurious model manufactured exclusively for royalty and beads of state.

Hitler's Mercedes Benz armored parade car, still with its original upholstery. Rudolph Valentino's 1926 Isotta-Fraschini is painted lavender, and sports allwhite tires.

Other famous personages whose cars are in the collection include Fatty Arbuckle, Clark Gable, Barbara Hutton, Emily Post, Franklin Roosevelt, the Rothschilds, and the Shah of Iran.

Tours are limited to 20 visitors and reservations are required; call (415) 838-0728. The Behring Museum is open from 10 to 6 daily To get there from I-680, exit on Crow Canyon Road (10 miles south of Walnut Creek) and head east 4 miles to Camino Tassajara. Turn right and look for a sign on the left.
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Behring Museum, Danville, California
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1988
Words:415
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