Approaching the hamlet of Hickory Corners, Michigan from the east is a touring car driver’s dream. The gently rolling roadway is framed by soaring hardwoods. The undulating blacktop tempts the driver to open the throttle and dash across the countryside, throw the car into the corners. Doing so is hazardous on three counts. First you might mow down one of the local characters who reside in the region. You might miss a picture perfect backdrop for a quick photo. Most importantly, you might miss the turn at the bright red dairy barns of the Gilmore Car Museum. www.descol.hr
If you have ever dreamed of making a barn find, then a stop at the Gilmore Car Museum is a dream come true. Eight historic barns, a re-created 1930s service station, a small town train station and 90 landscaped acres are home to nearly 200 extraordinary vehicles. Together they embrace over 100 years of motoring history and automotive heritage. Whether your interests are Edwardian, antiques, muscle cars or memorabilia, you will find an exhibit to match your interest.
With nearly three miles of paved roads, guests of the museum could catch one of the vintage cars in motion. Weekend and special shows, can even offer up the opportunity to hop in for a nostalgic road trip. Exhibits include a 1899 Locomobile, Duesenberg, Tucker, Graham, Barley, and a stunning display of Pierce Arrow luxury.
If that’s not your style, then relive your childhood pedal car memories visiting the pedal car display. Seventy five vintage pedal cars are on exhibit. Or if memorabilia spins your starter, see one of North America’s largest displays of automotive hood ornaments and name badges.
A restored 1950’s dinner on the site provides sustenance for visitors. A piece of one of the pies on offer is heartily recommended. A gift shop provides the opportunity to pick up some souvenirs, and see the largest Rolls Royce interior made. It was part of the Gnome Mobile movie set from the 1967 Walt Disney movie.
If you time your visit just right you can catch one of the many events held at the Gilmore every summer. Enthusiasts show check with the museum’s event calender before visiting if they want to catch swap meets, British car shows or the Pierce Arrow meet.
Even the history of the Gilmore Car Museum holds interest. It all began in 1963, as the new hobby of Donald S. Gilmore. It was ignited when his wife, Genevieve, presented him with a 1920 Pierce-Arrow “project car” for his birthday. With the help of friends, the Pierce-Arrow was fully restored. The hobby would soon grow into a collection of over 30 automobiles. To house it, Mr. Gilmore purchased the 90 acre farm property and had several historic barns dismantled piece by piece, moved to the site and restored.
It was Genevieve who suggested turning the collection into a museum. It was to her that visitors owe thanks for suggesting her husband create a place where future generations could enjoy the restored cars. The Gilmore Car Museum was established as a non-profit foundation, and opened as a museum to the public for the first time on Sunday, July 31, 1966. Donald Gilmore passed away in 1979, and Mrs. Gilmore in 1990, but the legacy they began continues to grow.
The Gilmore Museum is a founding member of the National Association of Automobile Museums, a member of the World Forum of Motor Museums, the Michigan Association of Museums, and the American Association of Museums. Located midway between Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Battle Creek, Michigan and just 15 minutes from I-94 and US-131. Open Daily May – October, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturdays & Sundays until 6 p.m Eastern Daylight Time. Additional information can be found on-line at: www.gilmorecarmuseum.
George Kynman is a cartoonist, writer and antique automobile restorer and driver. His cartoon work and articles have appeared in newpapers and magazines across Canada. George’s radio documentaries have appeared on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio network, Canada’s National broadcaster. His 1932 Chrysler Sedan is a common sight on Canadian roads during the summer touring season. His 1929 Graham Paige custom Cabriolet was recently featured in Classic and Sports Car Magazine. For additional information see: