João de Lacerda
João de Lacerda was born in 1923, in Caramulo. On completing his secondary school education, he decided to follow the family tradition and studied to be a doctor at the Faculdade de Medicina in Lisbon.
He immediately began to specialise in Respiratory Medicine, working with well-known phthisiologists. After a number of internships, he became Clinical Director of the Estância Sanatorial do Caramulo.
In 1957, when his brother Abel died in a tragic accident in which he himself was seriously injured, he was obliged to take over the running of the health resort and gave up medical practice.
Due to his having permanently accompanied his father, he had always had a great passion for building projects, and so it was natural that he should take over the management of the Caramulo tourist board and devote much of his energy to the development and embellishment of his native region, Caramulo. In this way, he was able to continue the great project devised by his father, Dr. Jerónimo de Lacerda, who had pioneered the creation of what was to be a model village for that time, with running water piped to each home, electricity supplied by the region’s own dam, a sewage network with its own wastewater treatment plant, a refuse collection system with an incinerator, and gardens and green spaces on a scale never seen before. It is fair to say that while it was Jerónimo de Lacerda who created Caramulo, it was João de Lacerda who gave it the projection that made it famous both in Portugal and abroad.
A tireless worker, he devoted all his time and energy to his native region, realising and giving shape to the dream first formed by his brother Abel, the building of the Museum, which he completed in record time. It was João de Lacerda who created the Fundação Abel de Lacerda, in homage to his brother, and it was his affectionate care and commitment that almost exclusively led to the creation of what is today the Museu do Caramulo.
One day, he came across a Ford T that was almost ready for the scrap heap. He stopped and bought it. This moment marked the beginning of what was to become the finest collection of old cars ever assembled in Portugal. A perfectionist in all he did, he meticulously rebuilt the cars that he acquired, returning to them the magnificence and authenticity of the old days when they had been driven on Portuguese roads.
In response to a suggestion made by the Portuguese President Américo Thomaz during a visit to the Museu do Caramulo, he decided to exhibit his collection and created the Museu Automóvel do Caramulo, initially housed on the ground floor of the headquarters of the Fundação Abel de Lacerda and later in its own premises, built at his own expense and with the help of some oil companies. This new museum was inaugurated by the government, with great pomp and circumstance, in 1970.
In view of his great dynamism, João de Lacerda was invited to take part with his cars in many of the most famous and prestigious events for veteran cars, such as the London-Brighton race, the Louis Vuitton China Run, the Bordeaux-Paris race, the Mille Miglia and the Monte Carlo Rally, amongst others, winning prize after prize and having much praise lavished upon him. His driving skills and the impeccable mechanical state of his vehicles earned both him and the Museu do Caramulo enormous respect and international prestige.
Currently forming part of the Fundação Abel de Lacerda, the automobile collection, consisting of roughly 70 vehicles – cars, motorcycles and bicycles – all of them in an impeccable state of roadworthiness, is the attraction that brings most visitors to the central region of Portugal and undeniably provides a much-needed complement to the Museu do Caramulo.