There must be something in the water. I wasn’t much of a car guy before I moved to Saratoga Springs, but now I’m obsessed. The irony isn’t lost on me that the city’s official hub for classic and collector car-gazing, the Saratoga Automobile Museum (SAM), was once a water-bottling plant. First opening its butterfly doors in 2002, SAM is now at the center of the automotive universe in the Capital Region, organizing everything from must-see exhibitions and shows to galas and its prestigious annual auto auction. And after nearly two decades in service of car enthusiasts all over the country, SAM’s 2020 schedule is set for overdrive.
“We want the Saratoga Automobile Museum to become a destination for people to see great exhibits,” says SAM’s Executive Director Carly Connors. To that end, this year, SAM will start working with famed automotive curator Ken Gross to up the ante on its exhibition schedule. “Ken has the connections to get us the cars we need,” says Connors. “We’re going to be bringing in some spectacular cars.” It’s a broad vision that could include wooing more top-flight classic car rallies to town such as the International Bugatti Tour, which zoomed through the Saratoga Spa State Park in 2018. “We’re working with Discover Saratoga to bring more rallies and events like the Bugatti tour to the area,” says Connors. That also includes coaxing world-famous car collectors to display their wares at SAM. “We’re talking to Jerry Seinfeld and other big car collectors about getting their stunning cars in the museum,” she says. (Although no guarantees have been made just yet, Connors confirms that the museum and the superstar comedian, who has a penchant for getting coffee in expensive cars [see: Netflix], are currently in talks.)
SAM’s ratcheted up its events game this year, too. The museum kicked off the new year with its first-ever Kids Gala in January, which supported the museum’s Distracted Driving Program. And later this summer, SAM will hold a special memorial for Capital Region car dealer (and major museum donor) Anthony DePaula, who passed away this past October. DePaula served on the museum’s board and will be remembered with a ceremony on August 4 at the Hall of Springs. “Mr. DePaula was an ardent supporter of the museum and its mission since the beginning, from his numerous contributions to being a longtime member of the board of trustees,” says Connors.
But SAM’s 2020 schedule isn’t only about innovations; it’s also about supercharging already popular annual events. Connors says Saratogians should expect a glut of summer events—one nearly every weekend—including a lot more lawn auto shows. Even the Saratoga Auto Auction, which this year will be taking place September 18 and 19, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), will be getting an expert tune-up. During the auction’s preview day on September 17, car enthusiasts will be able to participate in a new road rally through the Adirondacks, with a luncheon stop at the Lake George Club in Diamond Point; and later that same day, a brand new VIP cocktail party previewing the soon-to-be-auctioned cars at the Hall of Springs in Spa State Park. “We want everyone to appreciate the museum,” says Connors. “Right now, we have cars here that car people like, but we also want to bring in people who maybe aren’t into cars but can appreciate them as beautiful art.”
Art that goes vroom-vroom? Hey, it worked for me. Now, if only I could convince saratoga living to fund some new “research” (i.e. wheels) at the next rally that rolls through town. A boy can dream.
New York International Auto Show, Or Bust!
Sure, attending the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) in Manhattan is about gawking at all of the automotive industry’s newest, truly jaw-dropping models on the floor of the Jacob Javits Convention Center. But for Saratogian car buffs, the show has also become an annual pilgrimage, as the city’s own Saratoga Automobile Museum (SAM) has a regular, front-and-center presence there.
At this year’s NYIAS, which takes place from April 10-19, Gotham will once again train the white-hot spotlight on SAM. “This is our fourth year at the show,” says Carly Connors, the museum’s executive director. “They invited us to be the official classic car display.” In other words, as ticket-holders stream into the Javits Center, they’ll catch SAM’s exhibit, featuring four gorgeous, vintage Packards, right by the show’s entrance. Now, that’s product placement!
NYIAS is one of the largest auto shows in the country, each year attracting more than one million visitors and displaying a Who’s-who of the top brands in the industry such as Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Porsche. And that’s just for starters.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to take advantage of SAM’s bus service down to the New York City show and back, which leaves from the museum parking lot on April 13 and/or April 18. Save me a seat!