ARUNDEL — Those in search of a genuine slice of Americana will find more than they bargained for at the new Maine Classic Car Museum.

Since the museum opened to the public Monday, visitors have been astonished at what Motorland co-owners Tim Stentiford and Tom Marshall and their crew have been able to showcase at the 10,000-square-foot facility off Route 1 in Arundel.

Along with a display of 160 rare and classic automobiles, there’s a collection of vintage postcards, displays of antique automobile advertising, antique gasoline pumps and filling station signs, a collection of antique toy Pez dispensers, Matchbox cars, old Maine and early 20th century global license plates, and local Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel memorabilia.

But the main attraction at the new museum are the automobiles, including a $1.8 million 1948 Tucker, one of only 47 surviving models of the 51 Tuckers that were ever made. Some 45 vehicles are exhibited indoors at a time from the massive collection, assuring museum visitors something new to see will always be on display year-round.

“Our first task was to figure out how to best tell the story of each of these cars,” said Maine Classic Car Museum Curator Karen Sigler. “We want the public to see each vehicle and know about the culture of the time they came from.”

Rarities abound at the museum, such as a 1939 Alfa Romeo, one of only six remaining in the world. Manufactured exclusively for the ultra-wealthy during World War II, only 40 or so these sleek and streamlined sedans were ever sold.

Stentiford purchased the Tucker this year at an auction for a car museum that closed in Tupelo, Mississippi. The car was conceived by Preston Tucker and briefly produced in Chicago in 1948.

Though the company ceased operations in 1949, the vehicle was a trailblazer in terms of engineering and safety features. It featured a rear drive and a third directional headlight that would activate at steering angles of greater than 10 degrees to light the car’s path around corners.

In the planning stages for years, the museum is a treasure trove for anyone interested in history or nostalgia.

“Everyone has a car story and we are here to celebrate it,” Sigler said. “We have vehicles here that were made ranging from 1913 to 1971.”

Stentiford said after years of following his passion for classic cars, he’s excited about finally being able to showcase his collection to museum visitors.

“It sounds cliche, but it truly is a dream come true,” he said. “And when is the last time a new museum opened in Maine? It’s been a long journey and over the years we had to move and regroup, but we’ve finally realized the vision of combining the love of of cars and history to pay it forward.”

He said he has a new favorite seemingly every day.

“With over 110 years-plus of automobiles here, we’ll never run out of things to discover and enjoy,” Stentiford said.

And each car in the collection holds some kind of special memory for Stentiford.

“We have a 1957 Nash Ambassador and that was the last year it was made,” he said. “About 16 years ago, I told my son Kurt, who was 4 at the time, about how my own father named all of his cars Betsy. I asked Kurt if he could come up with a nice 1950s movie-star type of name for the Nash and he immediately blurted out ‘Miss Pinky Brown.’ When I asked why that name, he pointed out to me that the Nash is painted pink and brown.”

To maintain and restore the classic cars, Stentiford has the resources of his Motorland business, which sells and repairs vintage vehicles. Motorland’s staff includes a mechanic, a body shop worker and an upholsterer.

“They have the ability to fully restore and maintain a vehicle,” Sigler said.

There are three Ford Edsels in the collection, a 1927 Packard that President Franklin Roosevelt once rode in, an elegant VW bus, numerous Woody wagons, a 1931 Cadillac, amphibious vehicles, a 1951 Hudson and Sigler’s personal favorite, a 1951 Lincoln Lido.

“It’s not an expensive or innovative car, but I just love the aesthetics of this car,” she said. “I just can’t take my eyes off it.”

Her 5-year-old son, however, prefers the 1951 Hudson Hornet, once owned by legendary NASCAR driver Marshal Teague in the 1950s.

“He makes a beeline for that car every time he’s here,” Sigler said. “He really loves everything about it.”

Being around vintage automobiles every day has given Sigler insight into classic cars and she’s even learned a few things she didn’t know before.

“I would have never known that many old cars had 6-volt batteries,” she said. “All of the cars today have 12-volt and I never knew that about the older cars.”

She said her work at the museum is nothing short of exhilarating.

“It’s pretty fun,” Sigler said. “I get to be a part of history every day. I get to drive these cars and to live and breathe them. This museum is going to be huge for the local economy and bring people here from all over the world. It’s truly a destination.”

The Maine Classic Car Museum is at 2564 Portland Road (US Route 1) in Arundel. It is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 and kids under 7 are admitted for free.


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