Rare and antique cars have always been as much a part of any Clive Cussler novel as the dastardly villains, the beautiful women and the fantastic plots, such as raising the sunken luxury liner Titanic.
The New York Times best-selling novelist has put 65 of his classic automobiles on display at the Cussler Museum northwest of Denver in Arvada. Cussler began his collection with a 1946 Ford Club Coupe he purchased after the success of his 1976 novel “Raise the Titanic.”
The museum collection includes many of the cars featured in her father’s books, according to museum president Teri Cussler Toft. The cars date from the early-1900s to the 1960s. A 1963 Studebaker Avanti is the newest car in the collection, while the oldest is a 1918 Cadillac that was once owned by legendary Broadway producer Florence Ziegfeld.
“Flo Ziegfeld purchased the car for his wife Billie Burke, who was the ‘Good Witch Glenda’ in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ movie,” Cussler Toft said.
Fans of Cussler’s works will recognize the 1929 Model J Duesenberg featured in the novel “Flood Tide,” the 1932 Stutz Town Car from “Dragon,” the 1953 Allard J2X roadster from “Shock Wave,” and the 1936 Pierce Arrow Berline and Pierce Arrow Travelodge Trailer from his book “Inca Gold.”
“The 1948 Talbot Lago is one of my favorites, as is the 1939 Mercedes Benz 540K, and the 1958 Buick Limited. I have so many favorites, I couldn’t list them all,” Cussler Toft said.
“The 1937 Cord V12 Berline, the 1929 Duesenberg, a 1925 Locomobile, a 1938 Bugatti, and the 1952 Allard are just a few of the visitors’ favorites,” Cussler Toft added.
The 1936 Avions Voisin is similar to the one featured in the 2005 movie adaptation of Cussler’s novel “Sahara.” In the novel “Treasure,” hero Dirk Pitt drove a 1930 Cord L-29 Brunn Town Car down a ski slope. In real life, author Cussler drove the rare automobile in classic car competition at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, placing second in class.
The museum also features other unique cars that Cussler has yet to feature in his adventure novels, including a 1925 Minerva, a 1929 Isotta Fraschini, a 1947 Czech-made Tatra, and a 1955 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.
Many of the older automobiles are luxury town car models such as the 1931 Marmon V-16 Town Car that featured an enclosed back seat where the owner would sit while the driver rode in the open air front seat.
“The collection is still growing,” Cussler Toft said. “Clive just recently purchased a 1939 Packard Town Car.”
If You Go
The Cussler Car Museum is at 14959 W. 69th Ave. in Arvada. Head west on Interstate 70 through Denver, take exit 266 toward West 44th Avenue and turn right onto Ward Road. From there turn left onto West 64th Avenue, turn right onto Indiana Street and turn left onto West 69th Avenue.
Hours: Open seasonally May-Semptember, Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Admission prices are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 years and older, and $3 for children under 12 years old.
For information: (303) 420-2795
Leslie Limbo, a Denver-based freelance writer, specializes in profiles, travel and business articles. Her work has appeared in the Denver Post, the LA Times, the Dallas Morning News, the Denver Business Journal, and ColoradoBiz magazine, as well as the alumni magazines for the University of Denver and the University of Houston.
From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.