February 6, 2018

J.B. Nethercutt Vintage Automobile Museum

NethercuttDTTThe weather could not have been more perfect for a day trip to Sylmar, California to see the fabulous and exquisite Nethercutt collection. You may think that you would have to be a car enthusiast to enjoy this trip but nothing could be farther from the truth. More on that later.

Once all 51 of my passengers were on board and after our comfort stop in El Toro we settled in and were on the road again headed towards Los Angeles and to the neighborhood of Atwater Village for our lunch. Some passengers chose to have lunch on their own at the many restaurants nearby while others joined me for lunch at the well known Tam O’Shanter restaurant. Famous for their prime rib, although I had the chicken and it was very good. It’s a restaurant that looks like a 16th century cozy highland cottage on the outside and when you go inside it’s as if you were transported back to the time of King Arthur where even the wait staff dresses in medieval attire. Open since 1922 it was not uncommon for diners to see celebrities like John Wayne, Clark Gable, Tom Mix, Mary Pickford and  Walt Disney who ate their with his staff almost every day. He even had his own table which they pay tribute to his memory with a plaque. Walt Disney’s first animation studio was just across the freeway in Los Feliz so it was very convenient.

After lunch we made our way to the city of Sylmar, California which traces its past to the 18th century and the founding of the San Fernando Mission. In 1890 olive production started and at one time they had the largest olive grove in the nation with nearly 1,700 acres of planted olive trees and would produce up to 800 U.S. gallons of olive oil a day. Did you know that the very first olive tree planted in California was at Mission San Diego de Alcala by the Franciscan Friars?

IMG_8233We pulled up to the Nethercutt Museum and our wonderful driver Dave dropped us off right at the front door. When you first walk in you are immediately taken back with all the vintage cars that you see and it is so tempting to start looking at all of them and taking pictures. But we had a docent lead tour first as you make your way across the street to the Nethercutt Collection where believe it or not there are even more vintage cars. This is where the tour starts and it was obvious to all of us that he truly loves his job at the museum. He also helps keep the cars in working order and all the instruments as well. There were four floors of various antiques to admire along with the cars. We could take all the pictures we wanted and they encouraged everybody to get as close to the cars as you could without touching them of course. Many passengers had their favorites as I did too. Our docent informed us that every car we were looking at had gas and oil in it and are taken out on a regular basis by staff to keep them in good working order. He also had a cute story about how he went through the drive-thru at a Del Taco with one of them and the looks on the employees faces was priceless.

The very last thing we were treated to toward the end of the tour was a sample playing of the vintage instruments with the grand finale being a two song concert featuring a 100 year old Wurlitzer Pipe Organ. You could literally feel the sound of the pipe organs (all 5,000 or so of them) through your body. It was absolutely spectacular.

IMG_8132After the docent lead tour ended (and by the way that is the only way you can see the collection) we had time to walk next door to the Merle Norman Cosmetic salon and by some make up. And if you wondering why this is next door well J.B. Nethercutt was the nephew of Merle Nethercutt Norman who started her cosmetic company out of her home in Santa Monica in the 1931. J. B. Nethercutt joined her and would eventually by her out and the other shareholders when she retired. He was an expert in cosmetic chemistry and he created a firm with $100 million dollars in sales. And that is how he was able to amass such a huge collection of cars and antiques which he and his wife enjoyed. After J.B. Nethercutt and his wife Dorothy passed away, (both within two months of each other) their son Jack Nethercutt took over the family business along with his wife Helen. They continue to carry on the tradition of collecting, restoring and showing cars, which by the way have won more “Best of Shows” than any other individual at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance event. I can see why. I have never seen such beautifully restored cars in all my life. The colors, the detail and even the history of some of these cars can be appreciated by all. You would be surprised by some of the previous owners of some of the cars too. But you will have to take a trip to the museum to discover who they were. Some of the cars in the collection have also been used in the Rose Parade in Pasadena.

Passengers are always asking me what my favorite trips are. This is definitely a favorite and I look forward to leading this tour again. Add it to your bucket list. Until next time Happy Trails everyone!

IMG_8189Donna D’Alia
DayTripper Tour Manager

Tour: J.B. Nethercutt Vintage Automobile Museum
Date: February 3, 2018


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