2018-12-06 / Front Page

Newport Car Museum Donates Cars for Kids

By Josh Krueger


Celia Furtado, 8, of Cranston, gives a smile of approval as she checks out the mini electric car donated to the Samuels Sinclair Dental Center by the Newport Car Museum. Celia Furtado, 8, of Cranston, gives a smile of approval as she checks out the mini electric car donated to the Samuels Sinclair Dental Center by the Newport Car Museum. Going to the dentist or being treated at a hospital is not something most people enjoy, especially when the patient is a kid. But things can change if kids have the opportunity to drive themselves from the lobby to the exam room. At least that’s the goal of a partnership between Lifespan and the Newport Car Museum in Portsmouth.

The museum recently donated two mini electric cars, both Henes Broon F830s, to two Lifespan facilities in the state. In September, the museum donated a red car to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and last week, gifted a pink one to the Samuels Sinclair Dental Center in Providence.

Museum owners Gunther and Maggie Buerman, who own a home in Newport, wanted to do something to benefit Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and the idea of cars made sense.

“We met with staff and came up with a link to Newport Car Museum by giving them a car,” Gunther Buerman said.

The cars have an integrated tablet that allows an adult to control them, and, if need be, to help the child driver avoid walls, door frames and any other obstacles.

“These little cars are great,” said Buerman. “There’s a remote feature, so the kids think they’re driving, but an adult [is controlling the car].”

Buerman then added, with a laugh, “Although I’m not sure a video game with adults driving is any better [than having kids at the wheel].”

So far, the pink car at the dental center has been a hit, even with the boys.

“We’ve had a couple of boys kind of turn their noses up at it, but most are thrilled to get into the car,” said Dr. Elizabeth Benz, director of the dental center. “The kids really love it. It’s a fun little addition to our dental center and it relieves the anxiety of kids as they go back for their dental procedures.”

The car is so popular with younger patients that they’re reluctant to hand over the keys when they arrive at the exam room.

“We’ve had a couple of real little ones, 2 years old, coming in for their first visit and they didn’t want to get out of the car and wanted to drive it back after their appointment,” Benz said. “But it’s been fun for everyone.”

That includes the staff. “It’s a lot of fun for us seeing them driving,” Benz said.

It goes without saying that Buerman is a bona fide car aficionado. The Newport Car Museum features more than 70 cars from his private collection. Buerman, a native of Mannheim, Germany who moved to upstate New York at age 4, hopes to share that passion with the children.

In his mind, it’s never too early to get kids interested in cars, since the technological advancements in self-driving cars could one day make human drivers less common.

“We’re doing other stuff at the museum with kids driving cars,” he said. “My 3-year-old grandson has his own electric version of the 427 (Shelby) Cobra at the museum. When he comes, I try to teach him not to hit other cars. I’m concerned this generation of kids will never learn to drive, so we’ve got to hook them early on the joy of driving.”

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