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15 Reasons Gilmore Car Museum Stands Among America’s Finest

Car museums are like temples; they preserve automotive history and the legacy of iconic vehicles. Among them stands the Gilmore Car Museum, one of the largest in North America. It had a vast collection of cars from a few dozen decades, showcasing the evolution of engineering and design. The story of this museum begs to …
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Car museums are like temples; they preserve automotive history and the legacy of iconic vehicles. Among them stands the Gilmore Car Museum, one of the largest in North America. It had a vast collection of cars from a few dozen decades, showcasing the evolution of engineering and design. The story of this museum begs to be shared, and the secrets behind its unrivaled success merits closer study.

Rich History

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Although you’d be correct to say that Donald S. Gilmore established the Gilmore Car Museum in 1966, its history dates far back. The American philanthropist started this multi-million dollar business from a gift. He started acquiring his car collection after he received a 1920 Pierce-Arrow from his wife, Genevieve. By 1994, the museum expanded to an outstanding number of automobile cars and models.

Timely Expansion

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As Donald’s automobile collection grew, he needed more space for storage. Consequently, he bought 90 acres of land in Hickory Corners, Michigan, and assembled three barns to house the vehicles. On July 31, 1966, he established the Gilmore Car Museum on his wife’s advice, leveraging the increasing value and popularity of auto collectibles.

Accessibility and Location

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The museum’s location in Michigan holds significant importance for several reasons. The state has a rich automotive history and a thriving car culture. Also, its central location in the Midwest makes it easily accessible to people from different states across America. Besides, Kalamazoo is in the area, so there’s almost always a steady stream of visitors. 

Amazing Display of Supercars

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Visitors are treated to a dedicated section of supercars across different eras and makes. The museum has a 1965 Lamborghini 350 GT, a 1935 Auburn 851 SC Boat Tail Speedster, a 2009 Ferrari F430 Scuderia Spider 16M, a 1990 Vector W8 Twin Turbo, a 1968 Maserati Ghibli, and many others. You’d also find the 1966 Ford GT40 MkII that defeated the Ferrari racing team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Muscle Cars on Exhibition 

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The “Born to Perform: The Era of the Muscle Car” is one of the main exhibits showcasing 23 muscle cars in immaculate condition. It features vehicles from the 1960s and 70s, including a 1967 Shelby GT500 Prototype, a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T Hemi, and a 1970 Ford Torino 429 Cobra Jet.

Vast Collection of Bikes

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This 90-acre site has over 400 historic vehicles, including motorcycles. Visitors can admire other classics from different eras. There are rare bikes like the 1947 Indian Chief and the 1952 Triumph Trophy TR5 used in “Happy Days.”

Free Rides in Vintage Cars

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The museum’s famous “Ride The Classics” allows visitors to take free rides in classic cars. Who wouldn’t wouldn’t want to visit such a place? Imagine the feeling of driving a 1963 Cadillac Convertible, a 1964 Checker Taxi, a 1966 Lincoln Continental Coach Door Convertible, a 1967 Pontiac GTO, or a 1930 Ford Model A Woody.

More Than Just Vehicles

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Gilmore isn’t just about the incredible car collection; it attracts hundreds of thousands through its unique structures and attractions. It has a restored 1941 Silk City Diner and a 1930 Shell station that reminds visitors of early gas stations and roadside travel. You can ride or walk along nearly three miles of paved roadways, watching cars perform and appreciating their design.

Collaboration with Global Automotive Brands 

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Gilmore has several “Partner Museums” on its Campus, each with its collection focused on a specific car brand or era. They include, but aren’t limited to, the Classic Car Club of America, Model A Ford, Cadillac-LaSalle Club, and the Museum of the Horseless Carriage for vehicles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Homage to Automobile Heritage

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The Gilmore Car Museum recognizes the heritage of car clubs and organizations like the H.H. Franklin Club. The dedicated H.H. Franklin Collection and Lincoln Motor Car Heritage have a significant collection of automobiles, engines, and artifacts. It also has the Pierce-Arrow Foundation Museum to honor the vehicle that started its journey.

The “Disney Magic and More” Section 

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This section takes visitors on a nostalgic trip down memory lane, showcasing a collection of over 100 pedal cars designed with themes from everyone’s favorite Disney stories. There’s the large studio set and the vehicle from the 1967 Walt Disney film, “The Gnome-Mobile.” Visitors can also climb into a restored 1919 Whippet Assistant Chief’s Fire Truck to take photos.

Restoration and Preservation Efforts

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The museum has a dedicated restoration workshop with specialized tools and equipment for in-house control over duality. Beyond restoration, the museum uses various preservation methods to protect its collection. They may include climate control in storage areas, special coatings to prevent rust, and proper handling procedures to minimize wear and tear. 

Special Events, Collaborations, and Outreach Programs

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Gilmore organizes various annual special events, from car shows to vintage races. They allow car owners to gather, showcase their vehicles, and celebrate their love for cars, attracting visitors from far and near. Some include Boats At The Barns, Volvos & Saabs at the Gilmore, and Vintage Motorcycle Weekend. The museum also offers space to individuals, government, and corporate bodies who want to host events on their property.

Campus Research Library

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The museum provides valuable research opportunities for scholars, historians, and enthusiasts interested in the history of automobiles. This non-lending archive contains about 400,000 automotive patents dating back to 1790. Likewise, you can find historical documents and photographs, factory records and manuals, and other reference materials related to automotive history.

Open All-Year

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Visitors flock to the museum in their thousands because the main building that houses the permanent car collection is open every day except Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year. Likewise, the historic Campus and other outer buildings, including the restored barns, the Train Depot, the 1930s Shell station, and the 1941 Silk City Diner, are open from April 1 to November 30.