Mount Desert Island is best known for Acadia National Park, so most people don’t expect to find a fine collection of antique cars there. The Seal Cove Auto Museum is tucked away in a quiet, out-of-the-way spot in the town of Tremont. I spoke with museum curator Roberto Rodriguez about the collection and some of the events to be held this summer.

The museum features vehicles from the “Brass Era” of automobiles, 1895-1917. Back then, radiators, headlights, and trim were made of brass, before nickel plating and chrome plating were used. Rodriguez said the brass is beautiful when it sparkles, but challenging to polish.

The theme of this year’s special exhibition is the history of “auto wars,” about the time when automobiles were banned from most of Mount Desert Island.  Each month, the museum hosts two recurring events. The second Saturday marks the date for Cars and Coffee, and the third Thursday is Demo Day.

Cars and Coffee is open for anyone to bring a cool car to display, and the museum pulls out one or two of its cars and sometimes gives rides. Each Cars and Coffee event has a suggested theme, but it doesn’t exclude anyone who wants to show off their car for other reasons.

On June 10, the Cars and Coffee theme of woodies and wooden boats will feature the museum’s 1913 Peugeot Skiff. The body construction is strips of mahogany that are secured with brass rivets to wooden ribs, so it looks like a boat. This is an extraordinarily rare and valuable vehicle, so it won’t be brought outside for rides.

Demo Day is a behind-the-scenes tour of the best of the best of the collection. This summer features the 1911 American Underslung in June; the 1908 Stanley Steamer Model K Semi-Racer in July; the 1910 Stoddard Dayton in August, and the 1905 Pierce Great Arrow in September.

The cars are phenomenal, and they also give rise to exciting stories about their owners. On Demo Day, Thursday, June 15, we will be able to see the car whose owner was the richest woman in the world.

In addition to it excellent collection and beautiful location, the Seal Cove Auto Museum hosts visits from car clubs, who bring additional fascinating vehicles, and their owners, who love to talk about them.  On June 27 and 29, members of the Horseless Carriage Club of America will be visiting. Look for them all around the island as they tour the area that week.

If you like history and automobiles, the Seal Cove Auto Museum is a great vacation destination. And if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your original plan to visit Acadia, the museum can be your backup plan. Cars that look as if they drove off the sets “Downton Abbey,” “Titanic,” or “The Great Gatsby” can spark everyone’s imagination.

Visit for more information.

Ruth Morrison is an Automotive Technology Instructor and Department Chair at Southern Maine Community College. She holds certification as an ASE Master Technician and Advanced Level Specialist and was a former Ford Senior Master Technician.

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