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 Texas : Towns A_Z / Central Texas North : Fort Worth

Pate Museum of Transportation
Fort Worth, Texas

Text & photos by Robin Jett

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Vintage Cadillac dealership
Vintage Cadillac Dealership
Photo courtesy Robin Jett
Texans’ love for all things horse-related is well documented. But Texans also have a love affair with the horseless carriage. While they may not enter their Packards or Buicks in barrel races, a true Texan appreciates a good car any day.

The Pate Museum of Transportation, just south of Fort Worth, is a prime example of one Texan’s devotion to all things mobile. A.M. Pate Jr., owner of Fort Worth based Texas Refinery Company, began collecting classic cars in the 1960s and didn’t stop until his death in 1988. He ended up amassing helicopters, a yellow submarine, and a Cadillac with the biggest fins this side of the ocean, among other treasures.

The museum, opened in the late 1960s, attracts travelers with an outdoor collection of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam era aircraft, guns, and tanks. Inside, over 30 vintage cars line the walls, each car more astounding than the other. Not just one, but two Rolls Royces – from the 1920s and 1930s – share space with a 1938 Pierce Arrow, a 1937 Lincoln Tour Car, a 1973 Jaguar, and a 1968 Shelby Mustang. The museum also found space for a 1983 DeLorean and an Iron Curtain-era Trabant, the East German version of a “car.” I remember riding in a Trabant when I visited family in East Berlin, and let’s just say that I felt as though we had piled into a covered riding lawn mower.

My favorite vintage cars in the museum include the Thelma & Louise style Thunderbird and the horrendously overdone 1957 Buick, with a grill that frightens small children. Rare cars, such as the 1904 Schacht car from Ohio, a custom car from San Antonio that wears longhorns on the hood, and a 1968 Sunbeam Alpine from Britain are on display as well.

Pate’s enthusiasm for classic cars is shared by thousands of other Texans. Every year the estate hosts the Pate Swap Meet, held on the last weekend of April at the Texas Motor Speedway, where aficionados gather to buy, sell, and talk cars. Thanks to Pate’s passion, we can all enjoy the funky, eccentric, and glorious styling of the automobile.
1957 red Buick
The 1957 Buick
Photo courtesy Robin Jett
yellow submarine
Yellow Submarine
Photo courtesy Robin Jett

Pate Museum of Transportation

18501 Hwy 377 S (mailing: P.O. Box 711)
Fort Worth, Texas, 76101
(817) 396-4305
10a-5p Tuesday through Saturday
12p – 5p Sundays
Closed Mondays
Free admission – Donations welcomed, of course!

Copyright
Robin Jett
July 15, 2004

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