Bruce Meyer Collection – Profile and Photos Page Three
During WWII, aerodynamic and light-weight teardrop-shaped belly tanks were made for military aircraft. After the war, they were plentiful and cheap as surplus. A number of these tanks were utilized to form bodies for record-run cars. One of the best-known and successful was built and campaigned by Alex Xydias at his So-Cal Speed Shop using a P-38 tank. Powered by a 156 cid flathead V-8, he set a new class record of 145.395 mph in 1951. That night in his motel parking lot, Alex and his crew installed a 259 Mercury, went back and set another record of 181.085. Still not content, they put in a 296 Mercury, setting new one-way record of 198.340 and at two-way of 195.77. The 198.340 stands to this day as the fastest one-way speed ever run by a flathead-engined car. Meyer added the So-Cal Speedshop Belly Tank to his collection in 1993.
Among his other hot rods, Bruce has the Greer-Black-Prudhomme Dragster. It ran in 241 events winning 237 of them. Don Prudhomme earned the best record with it in NHRA history. He won the NHRA FC championship a total of four times, is ranked third in NHRA’s Top 50 Drivers and was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1991. Prudhomme retired from racing after the 2009 season.
Then there’s the one that got away. It’s Steve McQueen’s 1958 1600cc Porsche Super Speedster. Bruce bought it during the late sixties. This Speedster is the first car Steve raced. My records show he entered an SCCA race at Hourglass Field near San Diego on June 19-20 1959. He was third in his production-car race at Hourglass (I was sixth driving my Devin SS in the main event). I remember one time when I was assistant race chairman at Del Mar in 1959. Steve came rushing up, waving his arms, upset about what I don’t remember. After some discussion, I mollified him and he went away happy. Bruce had the car for around seven years when McQueen persuaded him to sell it back. The car is now owned by Chad McQueen. Meyer would like to re-acquire it, but Chad won’t sell.
Within walking distance from his home in Beverly Hills, Bruce has an office on Beverly Drive where he runs his Meyer Pacific real-estate investment and development company. He started his collection—that includes not only cars, but also motorcycles and related memorabilia—with a Chevy-engined 1964 300SL Gullwing. It grew exponentially. There is a 12-car museum adjacent to his home plus another in his office building now under construction that will accommodate some 20 vehicles. In addition and on a rotating basis, a number of Bruce’s cars are usually on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum, an institution Meyer was instrumental in helping form.
Bruce showed his CSX2001 Cobra at the 2012 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance where he won first in class as well as the Henry Ford Award. He also showed the Cobra at the Pebble Beach Concours d‘Elegance where it won the Briggs Cunningham Trophy for the most exciting open car. During the past 25 years, Meyer has entered Pebble Beach almost every year and has won 15 awards there.
I asked Bruce if he had any advice for potential collectors. First, he said, “The most important thing is for you to love the car or cars you buy. When you contemplate buying a collector-car, be aware that a restoration will likely cost way more than you expect. It can cost as much to restore a common model as a rare one. Unless you are going to buy one with a unique provenance, it’s almost always less expensive to buy an already restored vehicle.”