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Snite showcases classic cars exhibit

| Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Snite Museum of Art opened a new exhibition Aug. 17 that showcases rare classic cars from the Jack B. Smith Jr. Automobile Collection. Admission to the museum is free and open to the public.

The exhibit contains four classic models: a 1923 Studebaker Big Six Speedster, a 1932 Packard Light Eight Roadster, a 1931 Cadillac Series 355A Fleetwood Dual Cowl Phaeton and an award-winning 1932 Auburn 8-100A Speedster.

The Auburn Speedster is located in the main lobby while the rest of the exhibit is located toward the back right of the museum. Visitors are allowed to walk around the cars and enjoy a near 360-degree view. Plaques containing pertinent history and information are displayed on nearby walls. Photographs are allowed.

Jack B. Smith Jr. is an entrepreneur and president of Gaska Tape, Inc., which is based in Elkhart, Indiana. Smith lent these four pieces of his collection to the museum after Chuck Loving, the director of the Snite Museum, approached him with an idea for the exhibition.

“The University of Notre Dame as a whole has always had an interest in automobile design,” Loving said. “This exhibit brings in a different crowd to the museum than we are used to. Many fathers and sons are interested and visit the exhibit. Football weekends bring in many of these types of visitors.”

Vivian LaVine, co-owner of LaVine Restorations, Inc., which works on both American and European classic cars, helped maintain Smith’s cars for approximately a year. La Vine’s company was involved in the maintenance and transportation of Smith’s collection. She said Smith’s cars, which were certified as classic by the Classic Car Club of America, were noticeable because of their “ornate” look.

“These cars are very distinctive, not like today,” she said. “[When you were driving in that era], you knew very well what [type of] car it was that was coming at you.”

Smith said he hopes visitors appreciate the beauty of these “sculptures on wheels.” He said he enjoyed the thought of having his cars on display for others to appreciate.

“ND is a great institution,” he said. “I am flattered to have it in the Snite Museum. I’ve always loved cars … I didn’t find these cars, they found me.”

According to the Notre Dame press release, Smith is a member of the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts Advisory Council at the University of Notre Dame, where he and his wife Laura D. Arauz Smith fund the Laura and Jack Boyd Smith Jr. Endowment for Excellence in Performing Arts. The couple also supports the Notre Dame summer Shakespeare program and has previously supported a fellowship in the Mendoza School of Business, the Smith Library Collection in Business and teaching labs within the Jordan Hall of Science.

The Snite Museum is open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. The museum will showcase the classic car exhibit until Nov. 30.

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