By  on February 25, 2005

BOSTON — Ralph Lauren tours Montauk in his Morgan Plus Four, tools around suburban Westchester, N.Y., in his Aston Martin Vanquish, and lets rip in his Ferrari Testa Rossas at his ranch in Telluride, Colo., with the roar of the exhaust ringing off Rocky Mountain passes.

A slice of the designer’s private, high-octane utopia — 16 racing gems from his collection of rare automobiles — is going on display for the first time at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Their grip on his imagination has been evident for years. The vehicles appear in his advertising campaigns and in publicity portraits of Lauren and his wife, Ricky. Their sinuous lines inspire product design. Lauren’s fall runway was partly an homage to his cars, with tributes to his 1955 Gullwing Mercedes in curve-hugging silver cashmere and satin.

“Whether it’s a Ferrari or a siren evening dress, I have always appreciated beauty that has a purposefulness,’’ Lauren said. “My cars were all created to race. My clothes are created to be worn….I connect with the car designer’s point of view — that their aim was not only to make the car look good, but to make them even faster. That’s why I am so passionate about my designs and my cars. They both satisfy my appetite for craftsmanship and creativity.’’

The exhibition, “Speed, Style, and Beauty: Cars From the Ralph Lauren Collection,” opens to media and insiders today, kicked off by a proclamation from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino declaring it “Ralph Lauren Day.” Lauren operates three stores in the city and recently chose Boston for the debut of his newest retail concept, Rugby.

The public gets its chance to see some of the vehicles starting March 6. The exhibit ends July 3. Car aficionados with a yen to ogle a V-12 have already snatched up most of the tickets for the monthly “hoods up” evenings.

“The objects are just stunning, as works of design, of style, of craftsmanship,” said museum director Malcolm Rogers, who pushed to develop a car exhibition over the sniffed objections of some art-world purists. “Secondly, they are from the collection of a master stylist himself. These are objects that have influenced his works.”

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