Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum
The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum is one of Philadelphia’s most spectacular attractions and if you have not been there yet, we suggest that you visit as soon as possible. We had the opportunity to speak with the legendary and inspirational, Fred Simeone, about the beauty and significance of his collection of high-quality automobiles. We were more than impressed by everything that this museum has to offer.
Fred Simeone is a Philadelphia native, rooting from the Kensington area. He spent his youth accompanying his father, the local general medicine practitioner, on house calls throughout the neighborhood. He fondly recalled his father’s passion for cars and noted that they would often stop to inspect various vehicles and discuss their unique features. Simeone states that his father “always took a more appreciative approach to cars, [like] they were pieces of art.”
How it Started
Simeone was inspired by his father in two ways; First, he followed in his footsteps and attended medical school, becoming a well-known and influential neurosurgeon on staff at the University of Pennsylvania. Secondly, he developed a deep love for cars and began collecting autos that he deemed to be historically significant in some way. Despite his extremely busy career, he always made time to research and collect quality cars.
Simeone read everything he could about cars throughout his life. He sought out foreign magazines and dealership brochures in an effort to increase his knowledge of automobiles and utilized his extensive knowledge to guide his purchases. For many years, his carefully curated collection was hidden away in a Center City parking garage.
Eventually, he realized that his collection was “something important that should be kept together as a collection” and he opened the Simeone Automotive Museum in order to honor the vehicles. Upon his retirement from neurosurgery, he became the manager of the museum and quickly got to work designing the museum in a manner that would display all of the cars with honor.
When we asked Fred Simeone about the collection highlights he was more than happy to fill us in on his favorites. He excitedly explained that “we have the Bugatti that won the Le Mans Race in 1937, only one of three that were made.” He further detailed his collection saying that “we have a car that has been significant lately because it is the first automobile ever in the National Historic Registry…the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe.” Simeone was clearly grateful for the opportunity to be a pioneer in the preservation and veneration of these vehicles.
Simeone also told us that his favorite car to drive is the “Alpha Romeo that won the 1935.
Real World Applications
The theme of the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum is “road racing sports cars”, and focuses on showcasing cars that were driven on the streets and were not designed strictly for race tracks. He hopes that, by displaying these vehicles, he can inspire young men and women, instilling in them the “spirit of competition.” His mission in that young people will carry this message with them into their academics, athletics and pursuits for personal betterment. He hopes to show people that competition has been the driving force behind helping automobiles to evolve and improve and that competition can have the same effect on the individual.
Overall, Simeone “wants people to look at automobiles as art and to come [see the museum] even if they are not car people, to look at the design and the style and observe some of the history.” The Simeone Foundation Auto Museum has won a record-breaking number of prestigious awards and features the world’s largest library of car brochures. Fred Simeone has published two books, makes regular TV appearances and is a friend of, fellow car enthusiast, Jay Leno. Take some time to visit this amazing museum, you will be blown away by this phenomenal collection of automobiles, right in your own backyard!
Written by Patrick Kaisinger (Mike McCann Team Blogger Extraordinaire)