History, Travel, Ventura County

Classic pickups: Murphy Auto Museum showcases American trucks in new exhibit

Nothing is more quintessentially American, at least in the car world, than a pickup truck.

Farmers and tradespeople were once the primary drivers of pickups, but today they are widely used as everything from rugged off-roaders to family vehicles.

Pickups have quite a history, and car enthusiasts (and even those who know nothing about them), will find something interesting to learn about them at a new exhibit called “American Pickups” at the Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard.

The exhibit, which runs through June 17, chronicles the history of the pickup beginning with the ultimate collectible—a 1927 Henry Ford Model T.

Fast Fact: Did you know Ford, who was the original designer of the first factory-built pickup truck, actually coined the term “pickup”?

1927 Ford Model pickup

Dodge actually designed its 1946 pickup around fashionable art-deco principles, and 1963 was the last year Chevrolet had a curved windshield design. (Both the 1946 Dodge and 1963 Chevrolet C-10 are on display.)

Jeep also went head-to-head with Chevrolet, Ford, and GM in the competitive pickup market, but lack of new design over 25 years led to the company ceasing production of pickups in 1988.

1980 Jeep J10 pickup

However, collectors still seek out the J10, which Jeep only produced 9,000 of them back in 1980. The J10 is featured in the exhibit.

In addition to pickups, there are more than 90 beautiful vintage automobiles (and some modern ones) and vintage trailers from local collectors inside the 30,000-square-foot museum, founded in 2000 by retired Ventura neurosurgeon Dr. Daniel Murphy.

1959 Chevrolet Corvette
A “Durable Duro” purchased new in 1910 is one of the oldest cars featured at the museum.

Beyond cars, the museum is home to a huge model railroad display, the largest H/O scale model layout between San Diego and San Francisco. The 1,800-square-foot display is manned by members of the 25-year-old Gold Coast Modular Railroad Club every weekend.

There are also vintage clothing displays, and classic toys, bikes and memorabilia throughout the museum. Docents are also readily available throughout the museum to answer questions.

An exhibit on Andy Granatelli (aka “Mister 500” and a major figure in automobile racing events) is featured.

Upcoming events include the Murphy’s Lab Future Driver Car Clinic for kids, new teen drivers, and car enthusiasts offered by Steve Ford (“The Car Guy®) from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on April 21.

The museum’s annual Vintage Trailer Show, a huge one-day only event featuring 40-plus vintage trailers on display and open for tours, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 23. The trailers are decorated with period correct old-school camping memorabilia, and the event also includes food and music.

The Murphy Automobile Museum, 2230 Statham Blvd., is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday through Sunday.  Admission is $9 for adults, and free for children 12 years and under and active military with ID or in uniform.


–Michele Willer-Allred

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