APRIL AND AUTOS: It wouldn't be too far-fetched to argue that it is always a prime time to ponder car culture, at least around Southern and Central California. We're a state that is famously in love with our wheels, and we'll take to the road any month of the year, regardless of the weather or what's on our plates. But the fourth month on the calendar tends to sprout a number of car-related to-dos, from the La Jolla Concours d'Elegance to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to people simply wanting to get out, with the top down, and enjoy the spring sunshine. The Mullin Automotive Museum of Oxnard is very much about April auto-ness, too, thanks to the opening of a grand new exhibit that spotlights some of the earliest cars ever made, and elegant, painting-worthy coaches, too. The focus of Cars & Carriages, which makes its museum debut on Saturday, April 9? The "French coachbuilders from the late 19th century through the dawn of the automotive age." One of the times explored in the exhibit will be the close of the "horse-drawn era," and, of course, how vroom-vroom vehicles began to take centerstage. It's a fascinating topic to ponder, especially for those history buffs who are especially rhapsodic over times of technological change.
BIG NAMES: Look for a host of celebrated builders to receive the spotlight in the exhibit, from Bugatti to L'Renault to Labourdette. Peter Mullin, founder of the museum, calls the pieces (which hail from the museum's collection) "rolling sculptures," and indeed they are. As for the gorgeous carriages, which are very much emblematic of the end of the Belle Epoque? There will be eight on display, so plan to get your fill of the conveyances (which appear to have trotted right out of a Colette novel or sumptuous period mini-series). There's an almost thirty-year span in the cars and carriages on display, but expect a "quantum leap" in design and ideas. That's exciting stuff, for tech people and car people and anyone who enjoys seeing big moments in transportation history. Details? Bridle-up your steeds and hoof it this way.