Persona

Dr. Fred Simeone, 1936–2022

by Eddy Eckart
13 June 2022 3 min read
Image
Dr. Fred Simeone doing what he loved: sharing his 1938 Alfa Romeo 8c 2900B Mille Miglia Spider with a crowd. Photo by Simeone Foundation

Dr. Frederick Simeone, renowned car collector and founder of the Simeone Automotive Foundation Museum in Philadelphia, passed away on Saturday, June 11. He was 86.

“This is a sad day for the car world,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty. “Fred was a visionary collector of world-class sports racing cars. But even more so, he brought his intellectual gifts as a top-flight neuro-spinal surgeon and professor to the car world. In my experience, I have never met a more intellectually honest and authentic car guy than Fred.”

Photo courtesy Simeone Foundation.

Simeone’s passion for cars—and his generosity in sharing that passion—started at an early age. As a boy, he convinced the Philadelphia Public Library to let him gather automotive literature and information so patrons could learn more about cars. With their support, he solicited material from manufacturers and from any person or company he thought could offer something of value. He always asked for two copies: one for the library, and one for himself. A thorough pursuit of automotive knowledge and a constant effort to ensure that others could enjoy the fruits of his labor would come to characterize Simeone’s life and contribution to the collector community.

Simeone’s father, Dr. Anthony Simeone, fostered young Fred’s automotive passion from an early age. The elder Simeone had his own small collection of cars well before an industry existed around collecting. After Fred Simeone became a surgeon, he pursued collecting in his own right.

Dr. Anthony Simeone and Fred Simeone with a 1937 Cord. Photo courtesy Simeone Foundation.

“It would be easy to say he was the right man at right time, but his story is more than that,” said Dave Kinney, founder and publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide. “Fred had a sixth sense of what was going to be important in the future. He was able to amass an unbelievable, never-to-be-duplicated set of cars through diligence and dogged determination.”

In his spare time, Simeone would flip through old racing magazines, and he cultivated a list on his refrigerator of cars he wanted to pursue. He’d then assemble an exhaustive dossier of available literature on his target, pulling together all the pieces of that car’s provenance and history. Only then would he set about the purchase.

“He sought out the best, and if he had the choice between a car with provenance and a decorated record on track, and one that was perhaps in nicer shape but without the history, he’d go with the historically relevant piece,” noted Bill Murphy, spokesman for the Simeone Foundation Museum.

The result is a collection that includes some of the most important sports and race cars in history.

But his importance to the classic car world extends beyond the fine vehicles he collected. Simeone was a student of automotive history and held the conviction that historical automobiles belong in modern culture.

“Fred was infinitely knowledgeable and gracious in his expertise. I will miss his incisive perspective on all things historical,” said fellow collector and good friend Miles C. Collier, founder of Florida’s non-profit Revs Institute.

Like Collier, Simeone used his cars to educate others. He donated his entire collection to the Simeone Foundation, whose museum opened to the public in 2008. From then until very recently, Simeone remained engaged, hosting school visits and events to showcase cars in the collection and their historical impact.

Dr. Simeone and Foundation staff Kevin Kelly teaching students about race car engineering. Photo Courtesy Simeone Foundation.

“Car enthusiasts everywhere benefitted from his passion,” said Tom Cotter, author and host of Barn Find Hunter. “He was so kind to people—he’d run a Daytona Coupe or a GT40 around a parking lot just because he knew it’d make others happy.”

“You’d see Fred at races or concours, and people would walk up and start a conversation,” continued Cotter. “He was so passionate about the shared experience through cars that it’d be an hour or more before the conversation ended. That just doesn’t happen anymore. I don’t know who could take his place in our community.”

Dr. Simeone is survived by his daughter, Christina Simeone.

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Comments

  • Tom Mathew says:

    An incredible collection that is open to the public. The man passes, the passion goes on. Thanks Doc.

  • Peter Stricker says:

    Nice article Have been to his museum several times. Always enjoyed it and his lectures. Hope that it all continues

  • TodE says:

    I met Dr. Simeone at his museum a few years ago. We went there with our British Car Club. We were assigned a very nice and knowable tour guide. I spotted Dr. Simeone standing out of the way to the side. I pulled my friend aside and told him who he was. We walked up to him and introduced ourselves, we asked a few questions. He personal took us on a 1 hour tour of his museum! What a passion, what a gentleman! He will be greatly missed. If you have never been to the Simeone Museum outside Philadelphia, Pa. You owe it to yourself to tour it. A must see for anyone that loves cars!

  • Mark Ashton (Hispano Suiza T15 owner in UK) says:

    What a great guy & leaves a wonderful legacy.

  • Michael McAllister says:

    On one of our first visits to the Simeone museum, with friends in tow, a gentleman offered to give us a narrated tour. We were fascinated with his knowledge and his obvious love of the collection. We spent a glorious two hours listening and asking numerous questions which were all answered. As we were leaving, we thanked him profusely for his time. He told us his name was Fred and to ask for him the next time we came. Of course, it was Dr. Someone.

  • Harvey G Sherman says:

    And he was a very nice man who enjoyed sharing his very extensive knowledge and was patient and respectful of people who did not have his level of experience.

  • Gary R Sebolt says:

    R.I.P. our dear friend…you will be missed!

  • Ralph ichter says:

    Sad to hear the news , I bought a Porsche 356 from him some years ago …I translated some of the Bugatti correspondance from the french into English for him
    What a great , gentle , smart educated man , I hope the foundation will go on and carry his legacy forward

  • adam pepper says:

    I had the good fortune to spend a day at the Simeone Collection. Dr. Fred have us an extensive lecture on the preservation of their Shelby Daytona coupe.
    When it was over, he gave me a tour of the rest of the facility.
    His knowledge and insight were formidable, he will be greatly missed.

  • Joseph D Thaler says:

    Only the good die young.
    Rest in eternal peace DR Simeone.
    You will be missed.

  • Rick C says:

    My oldest son who lives in Phila took me there last year as a birthday present. It was a great find and gesture on his part since he is not a car guy…we thoroughly enjoyed the museum with cars displayed and history posted with each. Hopefully the museum/display continues with the passing of Dr Simeone, it should be celebrated by future generations for his dedication and love of unique autos.

  • Tim Bowles says:

    I have enjoyed watching videos of his collection on YouTube. I have not been to his museum in person, but have enjoyed my time on the tube. Those of you who met him at his museum are so fortunate. I would have enjoyed the honor

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