Saturday, December 20, 2008

Larz Anderson Auto Museum (Looking Back on 2008)

I wrote in an earlier post how when I was a kid my father would take me to the New York Auto Show every year and how much fun I had.

This year I took my 8 year old son, Jack, to his first car show, "German Car Day" at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA.

I had no idea how he was going to react to a car show and when I picked him up his mom warned me that I had better have a "Plan B" (she's big on plans) in case he got bored. I said "OK", but I didn't have a "Plan B", I was just hoping like hell he was going to have a good time. (To makes matters worse, it was a cold, drizzly day - not a great day to spend outside.)

We parked the car and wandered down to the lawn where the show was being held. Jack gravitated towards the Porsches. He had never before seen a car with the engine in the back and was very curious. One 911 owner, sensing Jack's curiosity, gave him a brief history of the car and then started it so Jack could see and hear the engine run. Jack was impressed (I was too). We checked out the BMWs and Jack told me I should sell my 3 Series coupe and buy a new 6 Series convertible (I had to give him a brief economics lesson). There were a few Opel GTs there (One with a later Manta fuel injected engine stuffed in it - something I had never seen done before and something that made perfect sense, given the crap carburetors Opel used in the GT) and I asked one of the owners to flip open the headlights so Jack could see how they worked. He obliged and Jack thought it was very, very, cool. I told him that I had an Opel GT when I was young and he thought that was cool, too.

When at a car show I tend to meander around, looking at the same cars over and over (which is probably why no one likes to go to car shows with me), but I knew that would bore Jack after awhile. On the museum grounds is a pond with ducks, fish and some weird looking frogs. When it was obvious that Jack was tiring of the cars we took a walk to the pond, fed the ducks and fish and made fun of the frogs. Jack was psyched again.

We walked up to the back parking lot where, because it sits on top of a hill, you can see the Boston skyline. Again, Jack was psyched.

We went inside the museum itself to look at the old cars on display. I don't think the cars from the 1920s impressed Jack (except for one that had a toilet in it), but the building itself did. Jack's mom is one of those people who sees a pile of 2x4s and envisions what she can build with it. (Me? I see that same pile of 2x4s and envision a really great bonfire.) Jack has inherited that trait from his mom and was in awe of the building's architecture. ("Why did they build it like that, Dad?" "I don't know, Jack, ask your mom when you get home.")

On the ride home we talked about the cars. We talked about the Porsche's engine, the Opel's headlights. We talked about the pond, the ducks, the fish and the weird frogs. We talked about the building.

I realized that I hadn't needed a "Plan B". Jack had a great time. Maybe he'll grow up to be a car geek. Maybe he'll become an architecture geek. Maybe a combination of both. Maybe neither. It doesn't really matter, Jack was happy to have spent the day with me. It doesn't get any better than that.

The Larz Anderson Auto Museum is an amazing place to spend an afternoon whether your with your kid, friends or alone. If you're a Car Geek it's one of the places you need to see at least once in your life. Click here to check out their website and a listing (still in progress) of their 2009 events.

I'll see you there.

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