Posted on January 15th, 2018

Remembering #MLK at the Ford Pavilion Magic Skyway

As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  we’re taking a look back at the King family’s visit to the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The Civil Rights leader rode Ford’s Magic Skyway at the New York World’s Fair on a trip with his family in 1964. His wife and two other children followed in the next electronically controlled car.

But what does this have in common with the Gilmore Car Museum? One of the original Magic Skyway vehicles is now on display! Read on to learn more about this incredible survivor…

Ford Motor Company used Walt Disney’s Magic Skyway at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair to showcase new Fords, Lincolns, and Mercurys and there couldn’t have been a better place to introduce the famous Ford Mustang on April 17, 1964. The Fair was divided into two segments, in 1964 from April 22nd to October 18th and in 1965 from April 21st to October 17th.

Ford built a total of 24 Mustang convertibles for the Fair – 12 for each year. In preparation for the opening of the Fair in 1964 the Mustangs were the last to be placed on the Magic Skyway, primarily because the original … Read More

Posted on January 11th, 2018

Museum’s 5th annual Speaker Series Highlights Variety of Topics

Did you know that Henry Ford had experimented with what many consider an “oddball” X-8 engine layout to replace the simple 4-cylinder Model T? Or that Walt Disney had a connection to Kalamazoo and the early development of the Gilmore Car Museum? Have you ever heard or even experienced some of the surprising yet true tales surrounding the muscle cars of the 1960s and 70s?

During the 2018 Lecture Series at the Gilmore Car Museum, you’ll discover fascinating stories and little-known facts from each of these and more. The sixteen-week series is open to the public and covers a variety of intriguing topics.

“We have brought together a fine group of historians, scholars, and authors—all experts in their respective fields,” explains Fred Colgren, Education Director at the Museum. “There’s certain to be something of interest for everyone.”

Each of the Sunday afternoon presentations begin at 3 pm and are only $5 per person, or free with regular Museum admission. The lectures are appropriate for all ages and walk-ins are welcome  as no registration is required.

This year’s series began January 7th with “Welcome to 1917”—a multi-media overview of life in the area 100 years ago presented by Ruth … Read More

Posted on November 30th, 2017


Looks are often very deceiving. During the mid-1960s a “Plain Jane” Pontiac may have looked more like something your parents would drive or perhaps you assumed a low-optioned Dodge was nothing more than someone’s daily driver.

“That was until they left you in their dust at the stoplight,” explained Gilmore Car Museum spokesperson Jay Follis, “or until you got a glimpse under the hood!”

That is exactly what the Gilmore Car Museum’s special yearlong exhibit, “Born to Perform – The Era of the Muscle Car” offers along with its exclusive OPEN HOODS week running exclusively December 4 – 10, 2017.

The Museum has assembled 16 of the rarest and most sought-after muscle cars for this exhibit and displaying them with their hoods up gives guests the opportunity to see the power behind the name.

Muscle cars were typical mid-sized dealer stock vehicles of the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.  They often came with very few options but had factory-installed high-performance engines in them—thus the very deceptive look of just another “Ma and Pa” type car.

Because manufacturers placed large V-8 engines into these affordable cars, it gave them incredible performance on the street— and in drag-racing competition.

Many consider John DeLorean, … Read More

Posted on November 3rd, 2017

Ultra-Rare Mercedes-Benz Featured at Gilmore Car Museum thru April 2018

Two ultra-rare Mercedes-Benz automobiles, considered by many to be among the most valuable in existence, will be showcased through April 2018 at the Gilmore Car Museum near Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Both vehicles are German-built Mercedes-Benz 540 K models. The 540 K was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1936 and featured a supercharged 8 cylinder that could easily propel it down the German Autobahn at speeds exceeding 100 mph. The car instantly became a favorite of the ultra-wealthy elite.

Included in the list of the prestigious 540 K models’ owners was the Baroness Gisela von Krieger of Prussia, movie mogul Jack Warner of Warner Brother’s Studios, and Actor Clark Gable, best known for his role in Gone With The Wind.

The Mercedes-Benz 540 K models displayed at the Gilmore Car Museum include an original 1936 Special Roadster with remarkably low 10,000 miles driven and a 1938 Sport Tourer that had been hidden away in a basement-bunker in East Germany during the cold war and only discovered decades later.

The 1936 Mercedes 540 K Special Roadster sold new to U.S. resident Reginald Sinclaire, heir to the Corning Glass fortune, a WWI Flying Ace and noted car collector. This 10,000-mile factory issued left-hand-drive … Read More

Posted on September 5th, 2017

Gilmore Car Museum “Gears Up” for Back to School

While many tourist destinations dread the end of summer and associate “back to school” with a season that’s wrapping up, the Gilmore Car Museum, near Kalamazoo, MI, embraces it by continuing to impact both students and communities throughout the state—and beyond.

Student admission is free for all pre-arranged K – 12 school field trips to the Museum and educators are encouraged to schedule their outings as early as possible.  A group of highly motivated and creative Museum instructors combine automotive history and “STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) benchmarks as the automobile has impacted all phases of culture.

These Museum visits become fun and memorable experiences where students become very engaged. “During these immersive learning field trips students forget they’re still in class and learning,” explains Robin Nott, renowned storyteller, retired drama teacher, and Gilmore volunteer.

For the high school student looking for more hands-on instruction in automotive preservation the Museum offers its innovative Gilmore Garage Works program, which will soon begin its 9th year.

Meeting Tuesday and Thursday afternoons within the Museum’s unique environment the Garage Works after-school program is 100% free and teaches the basics in automotive repair, tool usage and shop safety. Adult mentors, made up … Read More

Posted on August 1st, 2017


THE RED BARNS SPECTACULAR—the area’s oldest and largest antique, classic, and special interest car show and swap meet featuring vehicles of all eras from 1992 and earlier, takes place at the Gilmore Car Museum on Saturday, August 5th.

Celebrating its 37th year, the RED BARNS SPECTACULAR has been sponsored by the Kalamazoo Antique Auto Restorers Club (KAARC) and the Gilmore Car Museum since 1980.  

“This is the event that folks wait all summer for,” said KAARC show chairperson Jim Holland, “The name says it all, it really is spectacular!”  At last year’s event, over 1,500 collector cars and more than 300 swap meet vendors, descended on the Gilmore Car Museum for what has been dubbed the “Granddaddy” of all area car shows. 

Multiple generations now take part in the RED BARNS SPECTACULAR, either as participants vying for one of the nearly 100 trophies to be awarded in either the Judged Show or in the Driver’s Choice Show or as spectators reliving and making memories.

“There’s truly something for everyone at this show,” states Museum spokesman Jay Follis. “From the vast automotive parts swap meet; the variety of collector cars for sale; the huge assortment of antique … Read More

Posted on August 1st, 2017

Mopar Event Showcases All Chrysler Powered Vehicles

The resounding answer will be “YEAH, its got a Hemi!,” during the very popular MOPARS at the RED BARNS car show and swap meet that takes place at the Gilmore Car Museum on Saturday, July 29 from 9am to 3pm. 

Presented by the West Michigan Mopar Club for its 29th year, this family-friendly car show and swap meet is the region’s largest event of its type. More than 350 Mopars— all-Chrysler products—will take over the Gilmore Car Museum historic campus. The show is open to all Chrysler powered vehicles of all eras, including muscle cars, antiques, street rods, and trucks.

2017 actually marks the 80th anniversary of the Mopar parts brand, created in 1937 from Chrysler Motor Parts Company, to exclusively handle factory parts for each of it individual car brands that included Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, DeSoto and Imperial.

“Mopar” derived its name from the letters MOtor PARts of its full corporate name and has since become the affectionate slang for any Chrysler-powered muscle cars of the 1960s.

The iconic Dodge Charger was introduced in 1966 as a two-door fastback hardtop, dominated NASCAR in 1969 and ten years later the orange “General Lee” sped onto TV screens in the … Read More

Posted on July 1st, 2017

#GilmoreGreatRace: Stage Seven & Eight, Through the Mitten

We’re in the final days of the 2017 Great Race and it feels so good to be in Michigan! We left off approximately 48 hours ago, so there is lots to catch up on, the first being our take-off from Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor. We picked up our instructions and Madison got right to working the charts.

A lot of you have asked what our navigators are working with when it comes to instructions and I can honestly tell you…not much! Here are just 2 / 27 pages from our Stage Seven run on Friday.

Yikes, right! Our student navigators are working hard every day working through their instructions, perform timing calculations, and mark important emergency instructions or notes. And as if that wasn’t hard enough, instruction packets are only given 30 minutes before each vehicle’s official start time every day. They deserve a big round of applause!

As the clock ran down and it was time to get on the road, we piloted the Packard out onto US-23 and were met with heavy traffic in the heart of rush hour. We peeled off the highway and went through some difficult check point runs – some taking us in loops and to the … Read More

Posted on June 29th, 2017

#GilmoreGreatRace: Stage Six, A Gilmore Homecoming and onto Ypsilanti

Tonight, Team #GilmoreGreatRace would like to thank you, thank you, thank you for such a wonderful homecoming this afternoon. We were all so humbled by your support, your warm welcome, and for sharing our passion in the heritage of the automobile. We are proud to be representatives of the Gilmore Car Museum and we could not have been more proud to welcome the competitors of the 2017 Great Race to our home. 

The mid-day ceremonies kicked off with announcers Great Race Mike Goodman and Corkie Coker getting everyone fired up for the racers. Barb Follis sung a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, our very own Delton-Kellogg Marching Band entertained the crowd, our Museum Chairman, Bill Parfet, welcomed everyone to North America’s Largest Auto Museum, and Mrs. Dinger, the donor of the 1935 Packard that carried the team home, visited with the team and local news crews.

The Great Race cars started arriving shortly after 12:30pm and among the first to arrive was Team #GilmoreGreatRace with Delton native Gavin O’Dell navigating and Brad Wire of Shelbyville driving. What an amazing experience to see the car enter the campus to the cheers of the crowd! It was a very emotional moment … Read More

Posted on June 28th, 2017

#GilmoreGreatRace: Stage Five, Franklin to Auburn

We left off last night with the team working feverishly on the Packard, trying to figure out what was wrong with the acceleration and timing. After combing the car, it seemed that the distributor – the device in the engine that passes an electric current to each spark plug – had shifted due to a loose bolt and lost connection, which was in turn effecting the timing, causing poor acceleration. They also identified that a bolt that holds the alternator bracket was missing and needed to be replaced.

Shortly after midnight, two members of the Great Race crew came over to lend a hand with the car, which was amazing. Seamus and “Magic Dave” worked with the team to walk through the issues with the car, and helped us install our replacement distributor and retime the car. While it was a very late night, without the help of Magic Dave, Seamus, and other Great Race teams, we’d still be in the parking lot in Indianapolis. It’s true what people say about the spirit of the event — while we are all competitors, we are also family. 

With Navigator Coleman and Driver Bob safely on the road this morning, the rest … Read More