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35 Acres of Weirdness at the Volo Auto Museum

Photo: Courtesy of the Volo Auto Museum

Volo —No, you won’t find Pee-wee Herman’s bike in the basement of the Alamo. That’s because it’s at the Volo Auto Museum, a time capsule of all things — well, just plain all things. Here, five highlights.

Oprah’s “Biggest Splurge Ever”

The talk show host gifted herself a $365,000 1996 Bentley Azure on her 42nd birthday so she and BFF Gayle King could take a convertible cruise through Miami. It began to rain as the salesman handed her the keys, so naturally, he offered to put the top up. “No, I wanted a convertible ride and I am going to have one!” Winfrey insisted, and drove off into the drizzle.

Historic Pedal Cars

This strange collection of immaculately rendered kids’ automobiles from the 1920s to the 1950s puts today’s hunks of plastic to shame. Mini metal hot rods like the 1927 Chrysler roadster and 1938 Buick Century mirror the originals in line, finish, color, and construction, and most have working throttles, hand brakes, and, in the case of a plane, propellers.

Captain Phillips Lifeboat

Producers of the 2013 film visited the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum to create this exact replica of the real Captain Phillips’s lifeboat, right down to its “authentically placed bullet holes.” Tom Hanks spent nine weeks inside the highlighter-orange vessel during filming.

The Evolution of Road Travel

This exhibit, staged on dirt and plywood floors, recounts the history of American road trips through the vehicles, starting with an actual 1840s covered wagon and continuing with stagecoaches, RVs, and campers. Highlight: Henry Ford’s 1928 Ford House Car, the world’s first motor home and one of just two known to exist.

Hollywood Film Characters

What happens when Disney produces 400 life-size models of Sulley and Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc. for Disney Store and movie theater displays, only to demand they be destroyed? Well, a handful somehow survived and wound up scattered about the grounds of the museum, along with other random (and often creepy) replicas of film characters, including a functional R2-D2, a robotic King Kong clutching a baby doll, and a dead-in-the-eyes double of Heath Ledger as the Joker.

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