If you’re like me, you’ve probably never heard of Hickory Corners, Michigan nor know anything about the Gilmore Car Museum in that town.
But a little research has us itching to make a trip north to see what all the fuss is about, especially since the Museum is hosting a special exhibit called “The Greatest Generation – a dramatic presentation of Chevrolet Corvettes from each generation of GM’s legendary American sports car.”
The Gilmore Car Museum started in the early 1960s when Donald S. Gilmore began collecting vintage automobiles, including a 1927 Ford Model T, a 1913 Rolls Royce, and a 1920 Pierce Arrow, the restoration of which ignited a passion for Donald that led to the purchase of 90 acres in Hickory Corners to accommodate his growing assortment of cars. His wife Genevieve soon suggested turning his collection into a museum, so they officially opened to the public with 35 cars on July 31, 1966. Over the past 55 years, it’s grown into North America’s largest auto museum with more than 400 cars on display – the oldest being an 1899 Locomobile Steam Car – and more than 190,000 square feet of exhibit space. The Museum’s Historic Campus also features numerous vintage structures, including a restored and fully functioning 1941 Silk City Diner, a recreated 1930s Shell Station, and six onsite Partner Museums. More than 100 vintage pedal cars are displayed, as well as one of the largest displays of automotive mascots and name badges in North America, with more than 1,500 items shown.
“The Greatest Generation” special exhibit was curated with help from Corvette expert Werner Meier, owner of Masterworks Automotive Services in Madison Heights, Michigan, and widely regarded as one of the best restorers in the world. Several of his own award-winning Corvettes are on display in the exhibit, along with nearly two dozen of the rarest and most significant Corvettes in existence.
The exhibit includes a 1953 Corvette with VIN 26, as well as the GM Motorama presentation of two 1954 Corvette concept cars – the Nomad Station Wagon and Corvair “dream cars.” Also on display are a 1969 L88 coupe with the super rare high-performance 427 V8, an “airborne” Joie Chitwood Auto Thrill Show 1958 Corvette, the top secret Alpha Build C5 Corvette test car, in unrestored “as-tested” condition, and six concept, styling, and development cars never previously displayed together.
The Museum is open year-round, while the Historic Campus and outer buildings are open from April 1 to Nov. 30. Tickets are $16 for adults, $11 for youth ages 11-17, and free for kids under 10 and active military with ID.
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