Inside the Academy of Art’s Private Car Collection

Home / San Francisco / Inside the Academy of Art’s Private Car Collection

I recently had the opportunity to photograph the San Francisco Academy of Art University’s private classic car collection. The connection between a classic car collection and an art school might not make sense at first, but this is the private collection of the family behind the university, not to mention the fact that the Academy also has a car design program. All makes sense now right?
The entire collection was recently moved to the massive former Mercedes showcase at 950 Van Ness Ave. The multi-story building is stuffed to the gills with beautiful, perfectly-restored antique machines. This building is a place to house the cars rather than a museum proper.

Like a kid in a candy store, I drooled over the masterpieces of engineering as I carefully maneuvered my tripod between narrow clearances of million dollar gems, getting hundreds of close-ups of every detail. Unfortunately (for photography’s sake) the warehouse is lit with direct florescent tube lights which produce impossible-to-hide reflections all over the finish of the flawless paint jobs, not to mention horrible color temperature for shooting chrome parts. I usually like to “buff out” the light reflections in Photoshop, but I just don’t have the dozens of hours required to do it right now.

Photo Gallery: The Academy of Art’s Private Car Collection

These are a few closeup shots through a Canon 85mm f/1.2L. This baby is one of Canon’s masterpieces of glass, or the “Bokeh King” as I like to call him.

RR

A Rolls Royce inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection.

Stutz

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Auburn 852 Super-Charged

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Auburn Pipes

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Cadillac

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Florida 000-000

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Edsel

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Auburn 852

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Hey Mister, Where You Headed?

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Rolls Royce

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

BMW Isetta 300

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

1954 Chevy Corvette

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Mercedes 300SL

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Allard

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Gray & Red

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Lights & Blue

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Latch

Inside the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection at 950 Van Ness Av.

Gills of the Gull

A Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, part of the San Francisco Academy of Art's classic car collection.

Swipe left or right to view photos:
  • ray ingram

    I was in san fran as an australian tourist and i am a member of the american cadillac lasalle club. I was staying around the corner in polk st and just happened to wander around the corner and see in this show room an approx 1930  V16 cadillac [BEAUTIFULL] and other superb classic and vintage cars, i could not believe my eyes. The collection is not available to the public as it is part of the art academy universitys collection for student study.MANY THANKS TO SHAWN FOR SHOWING THE PHOTOGRAPHS .RAY

  • Well… you could say that designing cars is like art. It’s like a sculpting, though a car requires function in the form of transportation as well. Anyway, the photos you took are gorgeous. You had a good model; so sleek and so shiny.

  • John

    Shawn, Did you photograph the 1938 Pierce Arrow? I restored the car from 1996-2001

  • I’ve seen that car, it’s a beauty, but I don’t have photos. I think it might be over in the main museum rather than the warehouse? Not sure.

  • Pingback: Angela Vanlods()