The Cayman Islands Motor Museum, shut since late spring, will reopen in late November, according to owner Andreas Ugland.
The 12,000 square foot museum at 864 North West Point Road in West Bay opened May 1, 2010, but closed some months ago.
Sources close to the Norwegian-born shipping magnate said the museum had shut as he replaced and replenished some of the facility’s 65-car inventory.
“We will be making some changes and putting new [vehicles] in,” said property manager Braden Howe in a recent telephone interview.
“Mr. Ugland, in fact, just bought seven new vehicles last week,” he said.
The founder of the Cayman Motor Museum left Cayman for the summer, and is scheduled to return during the first week of September.
Mr. Howe said Mr. Ugland had sold a number of the museum exhibits, making room for replacements, although he was unable to say why the sales had occurred or to name the vehicles, when they were sold or to whom.
“He’s doing a lot more now than I really know,” Mr. Howe said, “but I expect he would want to reopen the museum in November, or at least before Christmas for the tourist high season.”
RE/MAX real estate chief Kim Lund, who has handled a series of property transactions for the owner, said he was “thinking of reopening,” and that “he was selling some of his cars because the world market got really hot” for vintage vehicles.
“He sold them at auction and was getting some new cars. He would reopen probably in the winter season, as long as he can get the inventory.”
Exhibits at the 2010 opening of the West Bay facility numbered 55 classic cars, including 11 Ferraris, and 18 motorbikes, shipped from Norway, England, Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere.
At one point, Mr. Ugland and his brother operated an antique car museum in Norway, but sold the building. On the Cayman Motor Museum website, Mr. Ugland writes “before assembling our collection in Cayman, our motorcars were scattered throughout the world …. My wife Natalie and I conceived the notion of bringing them all to Cayman.
“Ten years ago,” he continues, writing in 2010, “we acquired the land for the museum and began moving forward with our designs and working with government to secure planning approvals. We were all set to break ground in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan paid us an unexpected visit, and we were forced to put our plans on hold.
“About three years ago, we revived the project and began the process of cataloging the collection, starting construction, and, more recently, packaging and transporting the cars to Grand Cayman,” he writes.
Most famous among the original museum exhibits was the 1965 Batmobile from the U.S.-produced Adam West TV series. The vehicle sold at an April 2015 Broward County Convention Center auction in Ft. Lauderdale for US$143,000.
A replica of the Batcycle sold at the same auction for US$23,100, as did 40 other vehicles, including four Ferraris that went for a total of $1.4 million.
At the time, as he brought in 10 new exhibits – including classic Ferraris, British-made Bentleys and high-powered racing boats – Mr. Ugland vowed to reopen the museum after the interim springtime closing.
Elsewhere on the floor originally was a 1952 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, the first post-WWII model; a British-made 1952 Morgan +4; a 1973 U.S.-made Excalibur Phaeton III; a 1970 Ferrari Dino 246 GT; a 1939 Mercedes 230s, which Mr. Ugland described as a predecessor to the “Nazi War Wagon” vehicles employed by Berlin’s high command; an elegant 1955 Ford Thunderbird; and a beautifully restored 1962 MGB Roadster.
According to one source, however, a number of the Ferraris have been sold, and the hiatus for the museum has worried managers at Cayman Automotive, who recently installed an electric vehicle charging station on the premises.
“We had heard rumors of the closing, but were not sure,” said Sales Manager Jon Harvey. “The charging station got stuck, and we were working on it, while putting another one into Hell, but we were told the [museum] doors had closed. It’s a shame and we are trying to get to the bottom of it,” he said.
During the April 2015 auction, however, Mr. Ugland declared: “Every year, I sell at least 10 cars. This year, I am selling a few more. Like most collectors, I am constantly buying and selling cars.”
On Wednesday, word at last arrived in an email from Mr. Ugland, addressed to Mr. Lund for the Cayman Compass: “The plan is to open for American Thanksgiving … Kind regards, Andreas.”