Museum Spotlight: Toad Hall

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A Cape Cod collector’s cornucopia of classic cars.

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A 1953 Jaguar XK 120 fixed head coupe.

Whether it’s baseball cards, vinyl, or china, it takes passion to build up your collection. For Mr. Bill Putman, that passion helped him collect priceless sports cars from around the world for a museum that is undoubtedly one of Cape Cod’s hidden gems.

Toad Hall rests behind the Simmons Homestead Inn on a picturesque street in Hyannis Port. The entrance to the inn is adorned with some impressive looking red autos, like a 1967 Bentley Salon Type T. From the exterior of Toad Hall, one’s impression is that of a cutely decorated garage, until one notices the red body of a race car on the roof. Waiting inside the low building is the real treasure: Jaguars, Triumphs, Lotuses, Datsuns, and scores of other incredible finds. There is no need to rub your eyes and call your optometrist, because every car in Toad Hall is red.

A sign in the entrance gives you an idea of how this collection got underway:

Bill always had a couple of cars, but by 1995 he was up to about 5. Then it just kept going. He built a 3 car shed, then a 2 car shed and expanded it to 4 cars. Bought more cars, and then more sheds. He bought around 3-5 a year up ’til 2000. Then his folk’s estate was settled, their house sold, and as stocks didn’t look that great, he bought around 20 cars.

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If Valhalla had a garage: some of the beautiful classics in Toad Hall.

By 2003, the count was up to around 58. The museum is the sanctum of the true car collector. These beautiful, hand-crafted machines, once growling on the streets and tracks like hunting cats, now dwell in a peaceful den of memorabilia. The Datsun wing even features the blue hood from a race car once driven by the late, great Paul Newman.

Sitting in some cars give you a strange sensation … some leather seats and wooden dashboards come from herds and forests that no longer exist. Some models attained speeds and championships long eclipsed by newer cars, but they are still the champions of auto history.

Car museums are also a chance for someone to tie a car to their memory. My dad enjoyed the 1960 AC Ace roadster, a cousin to his favorite wheels, the Shelby Cobra. My friend Don got a chance to sit in an Austin-Healey that, much like Don, raised hell in its heyday. My personal favorite is the 1987 Lotus Esprit—a sleek design from the days when cars looked like spaceships and almost moved as fast.

Take a trip to Toad Hall on your way through Cape Cod. You won’t be disappointed!

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