When Donald Gilmore retired after a long career in business, his wife, Genevieve, worried that he would become bored without a hobby. So she bought him an old Pierce-Arrow classic car to work on. That was 50 years ago; little did she realize what a passion for automobiles she had unleashed in her husband.
Today, on a 90-acre campus just outside of Kalamazoo, Mich., sits the historic Gilmore Car Museum, which consists of seven independent museums. Visitors can walk up to the world’s most famous cars and be inches away from the likes of a Rolls-Royce, a Duesenberg, Hudsons, Packards, Franklins and LaSalles.
There is even one of the extremely hard-to-find Tuckers. Rare cars from the 1890s brass-and-nickel years along with a complete collection of steam-powered cars to the modern era of classics are also on display.
Gilmore, who died in 1979, accumulated more than 350 antique cars, motorcycles and rare vehicles from all eras and stored them in more than a dozen vintage buildings and barns that he searched the country for. He made offers to farmers and owners to purchase their buildings and relocated them on his property so he could display his collection. He even purchased an authentic 1950s diner while on a trip to New Jersey. It was refurbished to its old glory and reopened at the museum. The diner serves about 97,000 visitors annually.
The scope and range of automobiles is breathtaking to the avid car enthusiast. The trip to the museum is a memorable overnight adventure for any family or car club to enjoy. Take your camera and plan to have a wonderful experience reliving America’s love affair with the automobile.
Until next time, happy cruising!