Legendary Car Collector Fred Simeone Has Died

·2 min read
Photo credit: Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum
Photo credit: Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

Fred Simeone, the collector behind the legendary Simeone Foundation Auto Museum in Philadelphia, has died. His family confirms that he passed this weekend, during the 24 Hours of Le Mans that is so closely tied with so much of his collection. He was 86.

Simeone's museum, donated from what was originally his personal collection, consists of more than 75 cars heavily focused on competition history and originality. Highlights include a Ford GT40 Mk. IV, a Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, a Porsche 917 LH, a Ferrari 250P, and a Mercedes 300 SL. That alone makes it the greatest collection of historic racers in North America, but what really makes the Simeone Foundation Auto Museum special is the way those cars are maintained.

Around 90% of those cars are said to be drivable, so their originality is preserved in part by regularly driving them. Often, that driving happens at public demo days scheduled throughout the year around its on-site autocross space. Last Saturday, one of those demo days was scheduled to include the Cobra Daytona, the Mk. IV GT, and a Cunningham C-4R that won its class in the 1954 12 Hours of Sebring.

That drivable status goes hand-in-hand with Simeone's commitment to "as-found" condition over total restoration. Rather than re-building perfect examples of perfect cars, Simeone focused on finding more original cars in a manageable state of disrepair and maintaining them in that state. This led to Simeone's reputation as a preserver, one that he once explained even led sellers to seek him out in order to keep their treasures in the state that made them so special.

Simeone opened his museum in 2008, the same year he retired from a long career in medicine. Before his time as the collector and moving force behind one of America's great museums, he was the chief of neurosurgery at Pennsylvania Hospital.

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