Thursday, June 11, 2009

La Tue-Belle-Mère

Yesterday our family took a trip to Lyon’s automobile museum. A very wealthy man by the name of Henri Malartre collected these antique cars, motorcycles, and bikes, dating all the way back to the 1890s. While I'm not quite sure what he really looked like, this sculpture certainly captures his ideal image.

Overall, it was an impressive collection in an equally impressive location—a gorgeous old chateau overlooking the Saône river valley. We had the entire place to ourselves—a luxury since it was rather difficult to keep the girls from fingering these enticing antiques. The cars were so accessibly displayed that it really did make you want to throw on your goggles, crank up the engine, and hop in the old-leather seats for a spin.

I was amazed by the immense creativity in the evolution of cars and bikes over the years. Features that we now automatically take for granted haven’t always been assumed—I saw a snow bike that featured skis instead of wheels, a gigantic tricycle with two wheels in front instead of back, a steam-powered automobile, and an extensive collection of headlamps that were just that—oil-filled lamps stuck on front of the car! My very favorite however, was the vehicle nicknamed “ La Tue-belle-mère” – the mother-in-law-killer, pictured below.

In this car, the driver actually sits behind the passenger. The passenger has a fabulous view from the open seat that is in front and down below, but absolutely no control over the vehicle. Going for a ride would certainly take a huge amount of trust--almost as much trust as piggy-backing a cute two year-old who's pretty much potty-trained, but not quite. :)


Anonymous said...

Great cars ... and not all Henry Ford black in color. Hey, I miss supplying the shoulders to carry either youngster. The risk is real ... but worth it so long as you carry plenty of tic tacs to supply as "hold it" incentives. Keep smiling!

chou said...

Yikes! Like riding on someone's handlebars.