Destinations

Gilmore Car Museum – An Amazing Collection of Automotive History

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The Gilmore Car Museum is the largest classic car collection in the country. It is located in southwestern Michigan, just several miles northeast of Kalamazoo, in town of Hickory Corners. The museum buildings are spread over a large farm land of 90 acres (36 ha).

 

Gilmore Car Museum

Museum grounds entrance.

 

The Gilmore Car Museum houses over 300 vehicles and motorcycles from different periods and displays them in several vintage barn buildings spread over the property.

 

Gilmore Car Museum

The barn with motorcycles.

 

The exhibits range from cars from late 1800’s to the late 1970’s. There is a great collection of Duesenberg’s, early Ford cars, Packards and many other domestic and foreign automobiles. The oldest vehicle is from 1899.

 

Gilmore Car Museum

Motorcycle Museum

 

There are also vintage pedal cars, bicycles, hundreds of hood ornaments. Some of the buildings are also styled in the period from the past. Like the Ford dealership from the late 20’s, or late 40’s Cadillac dealership.

There is also an authentic 1941 diner – George & Sally’s Blue Moon Diner.

 

Gilmore Car Museum

Blue Moon Diner.

 

 

Brief History

The museum started in the early 1960’s by Donald S. Gilmore, whose early collection included 1927 Ford Model T, 1913 Rolls Royce and 1920 Pierce Arrow. His wife came with an idea of turning the collection into a museum. The museum opened to the public in July of 1966.

 

Gilmore Car Museum

One of the Duesenberg cars on display.

 

 

Museums

The Gilmore complex contains several different, focusing on period of time, or brand or purpose – museums.

  • 1930’s Gallery – including vehicles from, as the name suggest, 1930 decade.
  • 1950’s/60’s Gallery
  • “Designed for Delivery: The Early American Truck” collection
  • Franklin Collection – a re-creation of famed Ralph Hamiln Los Angeles dealership from around 1918.
  • Model A Ford Museum – re-creation of a 1928 Ford dealership
  • Cadillac-LaSalle Club Museum
  • Lincoln Motorcar Heritage Museum
  • Steam Barn – from the horseless carriage through 1920’s.
  • Campania Barn – features pre WWII vehicles.
  • Pierce-Arrow Museum – examples of luxury cars from 1901 – 1938.
  • Classic Car Club of America Museum
  • Train Depot – a replica of old-time train depot, and also a collection of vehicle mascots and badges.
  • Motorcycle Gallery – featuring motorcycles from the turn of the century all the way to the present day.
  • Shell Station – recreated gas station from the 1930’s.
  • Carriage House
  • Midwest Miniatures Museum
  • Blue Moon Diner – working 1941 diner where you can stop for lunch.

 

Gilmore Car Museum

Cars on display in one of the barns.

 

 

How To Get There

The address of the museum is 6865 W Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, MI 49060.

To get there from Kalamazoo, take E Michigan Ave, which turns in 343 and then 43 going northeast. Go through the town of Richland, still following 43 till you get to W Hickory Rd, where you turn right and the museum property is on the right.

The total distance from downtown Kalamazoo is 16 miles and takes about half hour by car.

 

Gilmore Car Museum

Yet another barn full of automobiles.

 

 

Hours

The Gilmore Car Museum is open Monday through Friday from 9am till 5pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9am till 6pm. It is closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The Historic Campus and outer galleries are open seasonally from April 1st through November 30th. The Automotive Heritage Center and connected galleries are open year around.

The adult pass is $15 (2019). You can find more information on their website.

 

Gilmore Car Museum

Cadillacs from the past on display.

 

 

Final Thoughts

So, as you can see, there is a lot to see, and if you want to check all the exhibits, you should allow yourself to spend there a better part of the day.

If you are an antique car enthusiast, you definitely want to go there. If you are not – you will still enjoy the visit. There is something in the perfectly sculpted painted metal with a lot of shiny chrome that just elicits your admiration for the craftsmanship and beauty of these magnificent machines.

At their time, they were means of transportation. But today they are pieces of automotive art!

Go, and enjoy! You will not be disappointed!

https://www.gilmorecarmuseum.org/

 

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If you would like to read about other automotive museums in Michigan, here is my post: Car Museums in Michigan  and another one about auto museums in Ohio: Car Museums in Ohio.

 

Gilmore Car Museum

 

 

Rich S. is a lifetime photographer and traveler based in Metro Detroit area. He has been traveling the Great Lakes area for over 30 years. Follow his blog about his trips, interesting activities and destinations in the Great Lakes region.