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The Art of the Automobile: Masterpieces from the Ralph Lauren Collection at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris
April 5, 2011  | 

Cars have become increasingly admired as works of art, as collectors and museums have recognized the sculptural quality of particular designs and models.  Among the major car collections in the world, there is one that stands out more than any other as synonymous with excellence: that of iconic American fashion designer Ralph Lauren. A selection of the most prestigious sports cars from the 1930s to present day will be on view for the first time in Europe at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs from April 28 – August 28, 2011. 

Seventeen outstanding cars, chosen by curator Rodolphe Rapetti, and put on display by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, outline the main phases of European automobile history. With this collection, Ralph Lauren shows that the automobile is a major art form created by the industry’s biggest names: Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Porsche and of course, Ferrari, the high point of this unique collection.

Ralph Lauren's collection has been built over decades and includes some of the most extraordinary examples of engineering, craftsmanship and design from the European automobile history. The one common factor throughout the collection is beauty.  All the cars in Ralph’s collection are beautiful.  Mr. Lauren’s keen sense of style and discerning eye have guided his passion in assembling one of  the most important groups of vintage sports and touring cars in the world. 

Ralph Lauren has collected some of the most elegant and innovative cars in automotive history. The ‘Blower’ Bentley made in 1929 is the oldest in the collection. The other masterpieces in the collection are the Ferrari 250 GTO of 1962. There is the famous Mercedes 300 SL, a 1955 make and the unforgettable Jaguar ‘D type’ which became an instant hit because of its shark fin. But above all else is the Bugatti Atlantic of which only four pieces were made in 1938.  It is one of the most expensive vehicles, estimated to be valued in the range of $30 to $40 million.

Musee des Arts Decoratifs
107, rue de Rivoli 75001 Paris

Toad Hall Car Collection – Hyannis Port, Cape Cod

If you can't make it to Paris in time for the Ralph Lauren exhibition, a visit to The Toad Hall Car Collection and Museum on Cape Cod is an outstanding alternative.  Starting with a few cars, collector Bill Putnam has amassed a collection of over 50 sports cars.  Most of the cars are English classics from the 50s to the 80s – all are red! 

Located in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod, the cars are housed in a shed behind the Simmons-Homestead Inn.  The Inn, owned and operated by Bill, is available for guests.  A visit to the Toad Hall Car Museum and a night at the Homestead Inn is a relaxing and wonderful experience!

All photographs are courtesy of Stu Sporn, freelance photographer specializing in fashion, portfolio and product photography.  Stu uses vintage medium and small format film cameras, digital cameras, darkroom and digital techniques.  His photographic eye, use of light, humor and uncanny attention to detail makes his photography unique.  Stu photographed the rare and beautiful cars of Ralph Lauren’s Collection and Bill Putnam’s Toad Hall sports car collection.  Cars are photogenic and make stunning and distinctive photographs that capture the character of the car and its owner.

For more information on Stu Sporn: