Museum revs up for grand opening
Tammy Allen wanted to bring intrigue and controversy to Grand Junction.
The local car collector and museum owner said she accomplished her mission with the $132,000 purchase of the 1963 Pontiac Bonneville Navy ambulance that allegedly carried President John F. Kennedy’s body from Air Force One to National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for autopsy after his assassination.
The word “allegedly” was used because there is speculation the Kennedy family ordered the Navy ambulance crushed in the 1980s.
But Barrett-Jackson car auctioneers, and the previous owner of the ambulance, provided documentation at the January 2011 auction in Arizona showing the vehicle-identification numbers on the ambulance that carried Kennedy’s body match the ambulance Allen purchased.
Either way, the ambulance is a valued addition to her collection, Allen said.
She wants the public to judge for themselves during a two-day, grand-opening event at Allen Unique Autos, 2285 River Road.
The 1963 ambulance will be unveiled at 7 p.m. Friday, April 15. Doors open at 5 p.m.
Until then, the ambulance is hidden under a protective cloak. Misty Allen, Tammy Allen’s daughter, said there are employees at Allen Unique Autos who haven’t seen the vehicle yet.
Tickets to Friday’s event are $35 and can be purchased online at allenuniqueautos.com, by calling 263-7410 or going to the museum.
In addition to the ambulance, Tammy Allen will unveil another new addition to her collection: a 1950 Mercury Custom Coupe nicknamed “Wasabi.”
“It is one of my dream cars,” Allen said. She also purchased it at the January Barrett-Jackson auction for $330,000.
Local band Pineapple Crackers will provide entertainment, and SPEED channel star and famed car designer George Barris will be on hand.
Those unable to attend Friday’s unveiling can come to the museum for the second day of the grand opening from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 16.
The 1963 Pontiac Bonneville and 1950 Mercury Custom Coupe will be on display, as well as dozens of other collector cars Allen owns.
Barris will talk about past projects and offer some tips to people interested in custom cars.
Custom car designer and famed automobile painter Gene Winfield also will be at the local business April 16 to talk about techniques. Painter Johnny Vegas will be on hand, too.
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children for Saturday’s events.
In addition, a competition for 27 area car owners who entered the Grand Valley Hottest Car Competition will take place Saturday.
Tammy Allen, Barris, Winfield and Allen Unique Autos historian Preston Patterson will judge the competition in categories such as best muscle car and best classic cruiser.
Misty Allen said the entrants are all from Colorado and mostly from the Grand Valley.
Tammy Allen said she hopes to stage more local car competitions in the future.