Miami Auto Museum: License to Thrill

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 08/2014
  • posted in: Great Garages

A car museum that greets you in a 1950s sock hop diner lobby has just got to be hip, cool and with-it. That 007, the quintessence of coolness, is here in a big way, although never seen, is no secret to automotive and film fans.

Home to one of world’s largest publicly available collections of James Bond props, vehicles and memorabilia, the Miami Auto Museum at the Dezer Collection comprises 250,000 square feet of car paradise in two buildings — more than 1,000 vehicles that take you back to the past and the future.

So, set a day aside off beach and enjoy its automobiles, motorcycles, submarines, airplanes, helicopters, boats, snow mobiles, mopeds and scooters — even a tank.

Owned by real estate developer, car lover and film lover, Michael Dezer, the museum contains eight galleries highlighting American/European classics, military vehicles, microcars and bicycles and motorcycles, including the largest privately owned Vespa collection on display in the world.

In addition, Hollywood-themed vehicle galleries, such as one with more than 80 Hollywood Cars of the Stars, celebrate leading vehicles from TV and movies, and one each for Batman and the cars, guns and gadgets of James Bond.

In addition, classic signage and poster art throughout many of the galleries intensify the museum experience. The James Bond memorabilia accompanying the vehicles is the largest such public display in the world.

And, because this is a private collection, the museum rents its galleries for after-hours events: With James Bond everywhere, a corporate or private cocktail party or reception is just that much more fun with killer cars and high-performing martinis, shaken, of course, not stirred.

“With 1,000 vehicles on display and even more memorabilia, we know you can spend the entire day here,” says the museum’s curator, Myles Kornblatt. “From a family on vacation to the most seasoned auto enthusiast, it is our goal to make sure everyone walks out of here saying, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen one of those before.’”

This month, Kornblatt kindly is giving Highline Autos readers an opportunity to see them now:

•When chrome and tailfins ruled the road: The American Gallery showcases today’s brands such as Chevrolet, Ford, and Chrysler but also long-gone nameplates including Packard, Studebaker and DeSoto. Among the cars are a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette and the 1959 Cadillac Deville, with those Harley Earl-designed tailfins that hailed American power, affluence and the jet and rocket age.

•Part of the European Classics collection are four Rolls-Royces representing four decades: 1929 20/25, 1938 Phantom III, 1947 Silver Wraith and a 1953 Silver Dawn. In addition, a Hooper-bodied Bentley Mark IV was ordered from the factory by the final Maharaja of Mysore Dec. 12, 1949, as India transitioned from English colonial rule to independence. This was one of at least four Bentleys that he ordered that year, and it had traveled fewer than 4,000 miles by the time of its sale in 1954.

•The Batman Gallery, with the Dark Knight’s various modes of getting around to get the bad boys and girls. These include vehicles in the 1960s TV series, starring Adam West and Bert Ward and a slew of devilishly good villains; the car from the 1989 movie; and even pieces from the most recent films.

Other cars, motor bikes, aircraft, boats, and even a submarine from screen and airwaves fame include the red Ferrari 308 from Magnum P.I.; multiple cars from the Fast and Furious movies; the original Interceptor from Mad Max (a remake will be out in 2015); the only surviving KITT convertible from Knight Rider; the A-Team van from the TV show; the Ford Torino used in the Starsky & Hutch movie and TV show; and the 1970 Charger, “The General Lee,” from the Dukes of Hazzard.

Other films represented include The Flintstones; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; Harry Potter; The Munsters; and The Great Race.

•The phenomenal James Bond collection includes cars, planes, helicopters and memorabilia from all the Bond flicks.

Multiple examples of 007’s preferred automotive brand, Aston Martin — tribute vehicles and actual cars from the films — include the stunning DB5 that appeared in the 1995 Goldeneye and the V-8 Vantage from The Living Daylights.

The collection even has room for the T-55 Soviet tank featured in Goldeneye as well as a BD-5 Microjet, six gadget-equipped Aston Martins and many other neat props.

“The vehicles, the guns, the gadgets: They all build the bravado that keep James Bond an ageless icon,” Kornblatt said. “We have made sure to capture that spirit with at least one vehicle from every official Bond film, including tanks, boats, and planes, as well as having memorabilia of everything 007 was ever a part of.”

The Miami Auto Museum, 2000 NE 146th St., is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 305.354.7680 or see www.dezercollection.com.

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