The Gilmore Car Museum is located in Hickory Corners, a small town in southwestern Michigan. Donald S. Gilmore, a local entrepreneur, began collecting and restoring vintage cars in the early 1960s. The museum has been open to the public since July 31, 1966.
Today, the Gilmore Car Museum is the largest automobile museum in North America. It exhibits more than 400 vehicles spread over approximately 190,000 sqf of exhibition space, on a vast campus of 90-acre. The Gilmore Car Museum tells the story of America through the automobile and the social impact of automobile on society.
The cars of the Gilmore Car Museum
The permanent exhibition is organized on several buildings, some interconnected, and mainly follows a historical distribution, with the pioneers late 19th/early 20th century, the gallery of the years 1920/1930, the gallery 1950/1960, the “muscle cars” of the years 1960/1970. One of the originalities of the museum is also to present certain models or brands in dedicated spaces, in the form of reconstructed period concessions:
- Franklin Grant circa 1918
- 1928 Ford dealership for the Model A
- 1948 Cadillac dealership
Some cars are also presented in the annex buildings some of the cars of the years 1920-1940 or some American classics. The campus also hosts 2 museums managed by associations:
- The Pierce-Arrow Museum, prestigious American brand of the years 1900-1930. This museum, managed by the Pierce-Arrow Foundation, is also presented on our website.
- The Lincoln Motor Car Heritage Museum, dedicated to Lincoln Motor, the Luxury brand of the Ford Group (also referenced on our web site).
- The Classic Car Club of America Museum which exhibits mainly prestigious American cars from the years 1920-1950. This museum will soon be detailed on our website.
Today, out of a collection of about 500 cars, about 400 automobiles from all eras are on display. American cars are widely represented, including defunct brands. Choosing a few models among the more than 400 exhibited is difficult, but let’s still mention the oldest, a Locomobile steam car from 1899, the inevitable Ford Model T, a Rolls Royce from 1913 and a Pierce Arrow from 1920 among the first in the collection, some “muscle cars” with the Ford Torino 429 Cobra Jet 1970 , 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T Hemi or 1967 Shelby GT500 prototype. There are also Corvettes or a De Lorean.
In the gallery of the 1950s/60s, a stand is dedicated to the “Green Book” that gave its name to a film. It was a travel guide advising African-American travelers on safe places to sleep, eat, shop, and buy gasoline, while segregation was still very much present in some states.Note that during the winter period (01/12-31/03), some buildings are closed to visitors. Refer to the museum’s website for more information.
Next to the cars
The museum’s historic 90-acre campus features many old structures, including eight restored 19th-century barns, an authentic 1940s restaurant that hosts George & Sally’s Blue Moon Diner in the summer, a 1930s Shell gas station, and an 1890s train depot. Apart from cars, the Gilmore Car Museum offers some complementary collections:
- A hundred historic motorcycles like a 1910 Cleveland , a 1947 Indian Chief or Fonz’s Triumph TR5 Trophy in Happy Days
- A collection of more than 150 post-World War II pewter car toys
- A hundred pedal toys, cars, tractors, fire trucks… and in the same space, an enlarged version of the set of the 1967 Disney feature film, “The Gnome-mobile,” and a 1930 Rolls Royce were personal gifts from Walt Disney.
- One of the largest displays of auto mascots and name tags in North America, with more than 1,500 exhibits
Many activities (thematic exhibitions, concerts, parades…) liven up the summer season, with almost a different theme each weekend. See the program on the museum’s website (https://gilmorecarmuseum.org/events).
There are two dining options on campus depending on the season, the authentic 1941 Blue Moon Diner during the summer period and the Heritage Café during the winter months. Ample parking for visitors, as well as a few “rustic” campsites during the summer.
Gilmore Car Works
Another originality, the Gilmore Car Museum has launched the “Gilmore Garage Works” after-school program. The aim is to provide in-depth education in automotive technology, giving students skills in welding, painting and fabrication. While not about training professionals, this program helps guide students on their career path while developing an appreciation of automotive history.
|Summer season (April 1 – November 30)|
|Monday – Friday||9:00 – 17:00|
|Saturday and Sunday||9:00 – 18:00|
|Winter season (December 1 – March 31)|
|Every day||10:00 – 17:00|
|The museum is closed at Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day|
During the winter season (December 1st to March 31st), several outdoor buildings close: Carriage House, Campania Barn, Shell Station, Pedal Car Barn, Motorcycle Gallery, Train Depot, Classic Car Club of America Museum and Pierce-Arrow Museum.
|Youth (11 to 17 years)||$ 11.00|
|Children (under 10 years old)||Free|
|Active military personnel||Free|
|Ticket 2 consecutive days||$ 28,00|
|Groups (+ 15 people), contact the museum email@example.com|
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