How can you resist checking out a place called Turkeyville? They have a campground, general store, candy store, restaurant and a dinner theater. The campground was beautiful, we left all the goods in the stores, and decided to go to the dinner theater. It was a few days before we could even get tickets! The place was packed, with folks driving a long ways to attend. I’m pretty sure we were the youngest people there! The show was rather strange – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. were recalled from heaven to help someone Sinatra had promised to help and hadn’t done. So parts of a lot of “Rat Pack” songs sung by adequate singers… and they looked funny at us when we didn’t want turkey at a place famous for it.
Here’s the Turkeyville Campground:
Before I get into the pictures for the Gilmore, I should make something perfectly clear. Dear reader, I am not writing this blog for you. OK, maybe a little, but basically it is my diary, a to remind me of things that I want to remember. I enjoy gorgeous classical cars, and Michigan is full of museums, which are full of interesting cars. So if you want to come along on my car tours, great. If you want to skim over them, that’s OK too. I’m doing this for me!
The Gilmore Museum is no less impressive than The Henry Ford. Quite different, and exquisitely beautiful. There are several buildings; some look like picturesque barns, some like antique car dealerships. Some are dedicated primarily to a certain marque: Lincoln, Cadillac, Ford, Pierce Arrow. Some are for cars of a certain period, or for a historical interest like being designed by or for women.
The buildings are situated in green lawns that give you time to walk outside and enjoy brisk fall weather, and get a breath of fresh air before diving into the next themed building.
For me, probably the most exciting classic car is the Duesenberg. In the 20’s and 30’s, there was no more powerful, glamorous or expensive car. Some models were so costly it would take the average American 40 years’ salary to purchase!
Besides being rakishly beautiful, they had some technological advances not seen elsewhere, and incredible performance. So I was excited to see the Gilmore had a special display of Duesenbergs in the first room! Several of the rare beauties in one place! Awesome!
Cars often had distinctive hood ornaments. A common one on Duesenbergs looks ready to skewer any mere mortal who dared to hinder your progress!
Selfie ala Duesenberg…
Here is a little blurb about the white “Duesey” below…
One of the other of my top three classics is Packard. (Don’t get me going about Rolls Royce). So many of these classics were incredible cars, but so far above normal people’s affordability, that they couldn’t live much past the depression. Once considered one of the best cars in the world, Packard did better than some, but then came WWII. Like all car companies, Packard made war machinery and munitions. After the war, all the companies struggled to get going with car production again. But things were different – a new class of people were buying, and looking for different things in their cars. Many companies could not adapt fast enough, and vanished. Packard joined forces with Studebaker, another struggling company, and the two died together a little over a decade post WWII.
But some of the pre-war Packards were stunning!
Packards often had a silvery swan hood ornament.
Rolls Royce is another favorite; a car well known for excellence and extravagance. In 1919 Rolls said they had a 3 year backlog for cars in the US, so they started making them in Springfield Massachusetts. The great depression hurt them badly too, and by 1935 the American made Rolls Royce was history.
1963 Chrysler Turbine Car
Here is another of my favorite cars. In the 50’s and 60’s, Chrysler experimented with a turbine powered car. Don’t confuse this with Turbo, or Turbocharged cars. This was powered with an honest turbine engine, like an airplane might use. One major moving part… They finally produced some finished cars and lent them out to people for testing in real world situations. If anything went wrong, or failed, Chrysler had techs there in a heartbeat to fix it. On more than one occasion, they replaced a whole turbine engine overnight for a customer. Ultimately, Chrysler never could get the cost of building the engines below six figures (!) and gave up throwing money at the program. But for a couple of years, there were a few amazing Turbine cars out there!
The Corvette and I have a common birthday. Here is a new 1953 ‘Vette:
A building modeled after an old dealership houses many beautiful Lincolns. Even a statue of President Lincoln for Cherryl to chat with.
1964 Lincoln Continental
My Dad had a ’64 Continental like the one below (except not a convertible). I remember Dad’s cousin Dallen, helping Dad by building a Heathkit garage door opener and installing it in that beautiful Lincoln. This was the first one I’d ever seen… so cool to automatically open the door without even getting out of the car! Amazing! The other amazing thing was the size of the contraption – a metal box the size of a small Kleenex box installed under the hood (there was room in those days), a small red button installed in a hole drilled low on the dashboard, and an antenna wire stretched the width of the car behind the grill. Then similar equipment installed on an opener in the garage completed the magic. Thank you Dallen!
Lincolns often sported a greyhound on the hood, like this 1939 convertible:
Notice the second windshield on this late 20’s Lincoln:
Here is something I had never seen before – a steering wheel that would tilt out of the way for ease of entry or exit. It seems quite a complicated contraption for such a small gain in space.
There is a building dedicated to Fords, but since last week featured them so prominently, I will just show a bit here. This 1930 Model A has an enclosed rumble seat. I’m really not sure how easy it would be to get in or out of, but it’s pretty neat!
Ok, I like Cadillac too. One of their technological advances was being first to implement Charles Kettering’s invention of the first “Self Starter”. The 1910 Cadillac below was just prior to this convenience. It was $1,600 when new.
Many luxury cars in the 30’s competed with each other on cylinder count. The more cylinders an engine had, the smoother it could be made to run. V8’s were passé, V12’s and V16’s were far more exciting. Below is a 1937 Cadillac Imperial V16. 1937 was the last year for the Cadillac V16; only 5 V16 convertibles were made that year, and this is the very last one. The name is somewhat ironic, because later Chrysler would use the Imperial name for their top of the line model.
Broadmoor Skyview Cadillac
The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a gorgeous first class resort set in the foothills of the rugged Rocky Mountains. The owner of the resort commissioned this custom 1959 Cadillac to be used touring guests around the beautiful area.
In the Duesenberg you could spear pedestrians with the hood ornament. In this ’57 Cadillac, you’d have to back up into them, but you could get two at a time!
This particular car was used in the film “Driving Miss Daisy”.
Alright, another of my favorites is the Pierce Arrow. Again, a high end car, very elegant, often drop dead gorgeous. One thing Pierce Arrow did that no one else did for years, was fair the headlights into the fenders. While owners often customized cars with special individualized hood ornaments, Pierce Arrows commonly had a wheel with their name on an arrow, or a man with a bow. Below is a 1932 convertible sedan.
Often owners would further dress up their cars with fancy grill guards, as below. As if there wasn’t enough dazzling chrome already!
This is the only Jag I saw at the Gilmore, but had to include it for its snarling hood ornament. Vintage 1948.
This car has a hood ornament similar to the “Spirit of Ecstasy” ornament used for the last several decades, but not quite as nice. Charles Rolls and Henry Royce were the creators of this marque – Rolls being the flamboyant race driver, aviator and promotional man; Henry Royce the fastidious engineer who demanded quality previously unheard of. When Rolls died in an aircraft accident in 1910, the famous “RR” on the grille went from red to black, as it has remained ever since.
This car was used in the Disney movie “The Gnome Mobile”. A mock-up of the rear compartment was made very large to make the gnomes appear smaller. (Special effects were far more primitive back then). Mr. Gilmore bought the car from his friend Walt Disney, and Disney surprised him by throwing in the huge film set as well. It is said that Disney NEVER let sets out of his possession – this being the only exception.
Here we are by the real car, and the enlarged version. Hard to get the feel for how large it is. (They wouldn’t let us climb aboard).
I believe last week I talked a bit about the Tucker. So now just one picture of a pretty one.
Dodge La Femme
In the 50’s many cars tried to appeal to women, but this was probably the most elaborate.
Here you can read about the founder of this museum, trying to help out the war effort by rolling on Wooden Tires!
This is a replica of the World’s First Automobile, the 1886 Benz.
I’ve been talking about hood ornaments; here is a room full of them! One in particular caught my eye… (I didn’t make this up!)
Look at the huge spotlight on this Wills Sainte Claire!
Studz is famous for their sporty runabout, the Studz Bearcat. They made far more than just sports cars, including this beauty. I had to do another selfie in the shiny hubcap.
Here is a cute story about a family wanting to give Mom a copy of her favorite car… but one that would require no maintenance…
A Brick Car!
R E Olds Transportation Museum
Lansing, Michigan was the home for Oldsmobile. Ransom Olds turned the company from machining and power plants to automobiles, and created the classic “Curved Dash Oldsmobiles”. The museum in Lansing is not so well laid out or labeled as The Henry Ford or the Gilmore, so was a bit disappointing.
Curved Dash Oldsmobile
The Curved Dash Oldsmobile was really the first mass produced car. Built from 1901 – 1907, it had fully interchangeable parts, and was produced on an assembly line. The car was pushed from station to station as it was being assembled. Henry Ford didn’t invent the assembly line; he mechanized and streamlined it.
Here is a beautiful 1928 Oldsmobile:
Ransom E. Olds was unhappy with where the company was heading, and left (or was asked to leave?). He then started a new firm with his initials, and the REO was born. They made cars for many years, then focused more on trucks.
in 1906 a one half scale model was made of the current REO, and they called them Mama and Baby REO… It was the first working miniature car. The two were used together for promotion, with the miniature being used in circus productions, fairs and parades for decades.
This undocumented wheel looks like and interesting attempt at driving comfort, but probably was only a bit ahead of wooden wheels!