A visual explainer:
The Gilmore Car Museum has been around for about a half century, and it can be considered the best kept secret of Western Michigan. Its beautiful grounds are home to over 300 unique examples of automobile history. The main complex is open nearly all year round, and the outer barn collections, housing both cars and motorcycles are open seasonally. Despite the seemingly remote location, a mecca to the Gilmore Car Museum is well worth the visit and here’s why:
1. No Ropes Or Barriers
You can walk right up to these highly valuable cars (so long as you are respectful, obviously).*with the exception of a handful of loaned cars. No need to attend Pebble Beach top get a close up look at these concours quality cars.
2. Rotating Exhibits
The museum has a few spaces that feature exhibits that are regularly rotated. This is what makes me come back. Most museums don’t move their collections around much. Each time I have visited (three times in the past year), the museum has acquired new cars loaned more cars, or rotated cars to create unique displays. The museum grounds are also always growing with new out buildings constantly being added.
This particular room has some of the best examples of custom hot rods.
3. Unique Cars
The Gilmore regularly displays all kinds of unique cars, many of which have been built in Western Michigan, that even the keenest of jalops would not be familiar with.
This pair of 1915 Scripps-Booths have unique off-set seating.
No need to go to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg museum in the middle of nowhere Indiana, when there is a nice variety of fully restored examples some barns in Western Michigan.
5. Hood Ornaments
There are countless luxury cars with the best examples of automotive artwork on their hoods. There is even an entire building dedicated to displaying hood ornaments.
6. Replica Dealerships
The Gilmore Car Museum has many buildings dedicated to significant car makers (Cadillac, Lincoln, Franklin, Model A Fords, Hudson, Pierce Arrow). Four of the building are designed and built from original specs of old dealerships.
There is a nice mix of cars from all decades, including the all new ATS
7. One-off Cars
One example: A 1939 Lincoln used by the royal family for various North American tours.
8. Turbine Car
I said TURBINE. CAR. Just look at this thing!
They even sell the dvd of the Jeff Bridges movie in the gift shop. This is number 47/50 and is on permanent display.
10. The Campus
This facility is HUGE. Over eight barns, a diner, an old shell gas station, and 4 replica dealerships accompany the main building. It is probably the best looking car museum... IN THE WORLD. During the summer months, the museum runs a fully functioning ‘40s style diner and hosts their Wednesday night cruise-ins (local cars park on the beautiful grounds of the museum). If you plan your visit in the summer, you might want to make sure your entire day (or two) is cleared so you have enough time to see everything.