The history of the automobile is one of the greatest showcases of man’s creativity and imagination. The collection of the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum in the Tampa Bay area of the west central coast of Florida is perhaps one of the most succinct statements of that premise to be seen anywhere. Housed in the museum galleries are many of the finest early approaches to aerodynamic shapes and packaging, front wheel drive and rear engine-rear drive engineering, unibody construction, pioneering uses of materials like cast aluminum, pressed steel and more.
The innovation of engineers such as Paul Jaray (the designer of the Zeppelin airships), Gabriel Voisin (aircraft from World War I and beyond), Edmund Rumpler (aircraft from World War I and beyond) and Jean Albert Gregoire (Tracta front wheel drive) are present in many automobiles throughout the collection.
Pre World War II ‘People’s Car’ concepts appeared in Europe as a solution to economic, employment and market challenges during the Great Depression years. Many of these smaller, rear engine cars destined for mass production did not survive the war, the great exception being the Volkswagen Beetle. This concept is well documented by examples from Mercedes, Tatra and Hanomag, celebrating the work of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, Hans Ledwinka and others.
The collection additionally presents the concept and history of shared technology and trade in the early twentieth century through the presence of the Tracta front drive system on a variety of makes, Daimler’s sleeve valve engine driving a variety of European and American cars and the American Budd Corporation’s patented pressed steel methods appearing on both sides of the Atlantic.