Posted on May 22nd, 2017

The Donald Gilmore Showcase: A Weekend In Review

2017 Gilmore Pre-1942 Showcase Tour, Show, and Swap Meet

The TOUR – Friday, May 19, 2017

Over 60 cars including an unrestored 1909 Cadillac took on a 92-mile tour south of the Gilmore Car Museum into three counties and made stops at a former Ford Dealership, a working 1870s water powered mill and a restored historic village and museum. They were also likely the very last group of automobiles to ever cross the 1887s Langley Covered Bridge north of Centreville — the state’s longest remaining covered bridge at 282 feet — which will soon be open to pedestrian crossing only. 

The SHOW and SWAP MEET – Saturday, May 20, 2017

Despite a chilly wind and treat of an afternoon shower,over 75 cars arrived for the 2nd annual Gilmore Pre-1942 Showcase. Demonstrations were given by an 1886 Benz – representative of the world’s first automobile, a 1911 Stanley steam car, a 1916 Detroit Electric, and an unrestored 1914 Ford Model T. The public and participants enjoyed seeing vehicles, such as a chauffeur-driven 1917 Hudson Limousine complete with the occupants dressed in period attire to a 1941 Harley Davidson motorcycle, driven within the historic campus.

Each of the cars that passed by had their … Read More

Posted on May 3rd, 2017

Museum Event to Showcase “Authentic Time Travel”

early-era-cars-1So, you might think you’re not into history.

In school, you dreaded memorizing dates—those long-past events seemed irrelevant—and you’ve expressed that “seeing a bunch of old things on museum shelves” holds little appeal.

Yet you find yourself arguing  for your favorite Doctor Who, following the time traveling exploits of NBC’s Timeless, or anxious for the next episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

On Saturday May 20, 2017 the Gilmore Car Museum, near Kalamazoo, MI, offers the public the opportunity to discover what it describes as “Authentic Time Travel.”

It’s then the Museum holds its second annual “Donald Gilmore Pre-1942 Showcase,” a one-day event which welcomes original vehicles 75- to 125-years-old to spend the day driving within its historic campus.

“You’ll feel like you just traveled back in time,” says Museum spokesperson Jay Follis, “when something you would expect to see only sitting static in a museum actually drives by.”

There will be historically notable automobiles you would imagine seeing on Downton Abby, driving home survivors rauch-lang-electric-1915-smfrom the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, or racing off from a 1920s Prohibition-era “Speakeasy,” explains Follis.

During this event, history comes alive and is transformed into … Read More

Posted on March 29th, 2017

Five Area Attractions Offer Free Admission in May to Members

Five local institutions will offer free admission during May to each other’s members.

The Air Zoo, Binder Park Zoo, Gilmore Car Museum, Kalamazoo Nature Center, and Kalamazoo Institute of Arts are partnering for a fourth year as part of the Southwest Michigan Cultural Membership Exchange.

“By partnering in the Cultural Exchange,” says Jay Follis, Director of Marketing at the Gilmore Car Museum, “we all feel that we can make each organization more accessible to a broader segment of our community.”

Guests presenting a membership card from any of the organizations will enjoy free admission to all of them May 1–31. Participating families who visit all five attractions will be entered to win a set of annual memberships to each organization.

Activities throughout the month of May at participating organizations include:


The Air Zoo is a Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace & science museum with more than 100 rare aircraft & spacecraft; interactive exhibits; science-based classes & camps; indoor amusement park rides; a 4-D theater; full-motion flight simulators, and much more. Rain or shine, the Air Zoo’s huge indoor facility is open seven days year-round. Information at


binder-park-zooBinder Park Zoo gets wilder this summer with a new African lion exhibit, … Read More

Posted on March 27th, 2017

Special Sports Car Exhibit Send Off at the Gilmore Car Museum

The Golden Age of Sports Cars, showcasing nearly two dozen of rarest and most sought after sports cars in the world, is wrapping up at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan on April 30th.

photo-3-sports-cars-farrari“This amazing exhibition was assembled by guest curators Tom Kayser and John Lacko,” stated Museum Marketing Director, Jay Follis. “It highlights the ‘Golden Years’ of sports cars with several exceptional vehicles including Nicolas Cage’s 1967 Ferrari 275/GTB 4, the race inspired 1955 Mercedes Benz Gull Wing, and an authentic Shelby Cobra 427.”

Making a surprise return to the exhibit is rock legend Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche that set a world record price paid for a Porsche 356 when it was sold in 2015 by Sotheby’s Auction.  The car was originally slated for only the first 10 days of the exhibit, but is returning for the month of April, including the exhibit’s Farewell

On Sunday, April 30th, the Gilmore Car Museum will host a “Farewell to the Sports Cars” open-house where visitors will have a chance to get a last look at these iconic cars and mingle with the vehicle owners that help make this exhibit possible. Then, at 2:00pm … Read More

Posted on March 16th, 2017

2400 Miles, 6 Teens, 1 Antique Car — NO MAPS, NO GPS, and NO CELL PHONES!


gr-logoThe esteemed Great Race, a highly competitive cross-country road rally made up of all vintage automobiles, will be traveling through Michigan and make a mid-day public stop at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI on June 29th.

Over 120 pre-1972 autos will be traveling more than 2,400 miles from Jacksonville, FL to Traverse City, MI—much of it along the historic Dixie Highway—in a nine-day vintage car endurance rally competition. Unlike the name implies, it’s not about high speed racing, but an endurance rally where following precise instructions and arriving on time each day are key.

The entire competition takes place without the use of any cell phones, GPS or maps!

More than 100 teams come from all across the United States and foreign countries to compete for nearly $250,000 in prize money, with about six teams from high school and college programs running in a special class. The X-Cup Division doesn’t compete for cash, but for possible student scholarship funds and what will be “an experience of a life time,” according to Fred Colgren, Education Director of the Gilmore Car Museum.

ggw-2Colgren announced in November of 2016 that a team of high school students from the Museum’s Gilmore Garage WorksRead More

Posted on February 27th, 2017

Nearly 400,000 automotive patents, dating from 1790, donated to the Gilmore Car Museum’s Research Library

The most comprehensive assemblage of automotive related patents in existence, both foreign and domestic and dating back to 1790, has been transferred to the Gilmore Car Museum’s Research Library near Kalamazoo, MI.

The unique collection consists of almost 1,400 archival boxes containing more than 396,000 patents, representing some of the automobile industry’s most important historical documents.

Kettering University of Flint, MI is the former General Motors Institute and held the extensive Patent Collection since 2001.  The University was established in 1919 as The School of Automobile Trades offering co-op educational programs to train engineering and management personnel in the auto industry. Through the following decades and name changes Kettering has become a global leader in engineering, mathematics, business and science education, and was recently ranked nationally in the top ten for its Mechanical Engineering program.


Just a small portion of the archival storage space needed to house the donated Patent Collection.

“The University wished to donate the Patent Collection to an institution where its value would be best appreciated and utilized,” explained Barbara Fronczak, Consultant for Archives of Kettering University.  “This value lies in its unprecedented assistance to historians, researchers, automotive restorers and collectors as well as authors and other interested parties.” 

In just … Read More

Posted on January 27th, 2017

Craft Beer Event Comes to Gilmore Car Museum February 11th

picture2If you’re like most people, you may have cabin fever, be yearning for spring, or looking for something fun and unique to do in honor of Valentine’s Day. One very popular annual event that is certain to help is “Pint with the Past.”  This Michigan-made craft beer tasting event and museum fundraiser is held (Northeast of Kalamazoo) at the Museum in Hickory Corners.

picture4DRAFT Magazine recently listed “Pint with the Past” — held at North America’s Largest Auto Museum — as one of the Top 101 Best “Bucket List” Beer Experiences in the world. The magazine went on to state, “It’s probably the only place to drink a Michigan-brewed beer alongside an ultra-rare Tucker ’48 Sedan – unless you have one parked in the garage!”

At this event guests will stroll past a Gatsby-era Rolls-Royce, Duesenberg, and Auburn as over a dozen Michigan breweries will have tasting stations mixed throughout the exhibit galleries and among the cars.

picture1Those attending “Pint with the Past” will have the opportunity to sample craft brews from a dozen Michigan breweries, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and live music by the BIG BOSS BLUES band and guitarist Nathan Douglas, all while mingling among nearly 300 incredible automobiles, … Read More

Posted on January 9th, 2017

Museum Speaker Series Highlights Intriguing Variety of Topics

arnenal-inside-burkes-homeDid you know that according to the Guinness Book of Records the World’s largest indoor mural was painted by a West Michigan native? Did you know that a Michigan state highway serves more than a half million travelers annually but is totally off-limits to motorized vehicles? Have you ever heard how a 1929 minor fender-bender in St. Joseph led area police to two Tommy guns connected to the infamous St. Valentines Massacre and Capone’s thug, Fred “Killer” Burke?

Throughout the 2017 Speaker Series beginning Sunday, January 15th at the Gilmore Car Museum, you’ll discover fascinating stories and little-known facts from each of these subjects and more. The 14-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 are free with regular Museum admission. The lectures are appropriate for all ages and guests are encouraged to attend those of interest, as no registration is … Read More

Posted on December 15th, 2016

Gilmore Car Museum Appoints New Executive Director

Chris Shires pictured in front of the Holland Historical Trust Museum. Photo courtesy of the Holland Sentinel, 2013.

Chris Shires pictured in front of the Holland Historical Trust Museum. Photo courtesy of the Holland Sentinel, 2013.

The Gilmore Car Museum, near Kalamazoo, MI, is announcing today the appointment of Chris Shires to the position of Executive Director effective January 2, 2017.  He replaces long-time Director Michael Spezia who will retire on February 15, 2017.

“Chris (Shires) has a strong background in museums and community relations” said Bill Parfet, Chairman of the foundation that operates the Gilmore Car Museum and grandson of its founder Donald Gilmore. “He will be stepping down as the Executive Director of the Holland (MI) Historical Trust and brings a wealth of museum operating experience to our organization”

Retiring Director Michael Spezia joined the Gilmore Car Museum in 2001 and led the Museum through the largest expansion in the organization’s fifty year history.  This involved the addition of several historic buildings and on-site partner museums including Cadillac, Lincoln, and Model A Ford. Today the Gilmore Car Museum is recognized as North America’s largest auto museum, due to the size and breadth of its collection, exhibit space, the 90-acre historic campus, and its seven individual partner museums.

Parfet pointed out that the Gilmore Car Museum has … Read More

Posted on November 16th, 2016

Gilmore Car Museum Offers Very Unique Driving Experience

It’s that time of year when we begin to look for unique gift ideas and the Gilmore Car Museum near Kalamazoo, MI offers one idea that is truly matchless—A driving experience like no other.

Imagine yourself behind the wheel of a car without a gas pedal, fuel gauge or speedometer.

No, it’s not the latest version of some self-driving auto or the newest model Tesla electric vehicle – it’s driving a nearly a century-old Model T Ford with technology that was common when the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series, the Titanic sank and the US entered the first World War.

“Think of it as going back to driver’s training—old school that is!” states Gilmore Car Museum spokesman Jay Follis.

Follis explains that for this special experience students are put behind the wheel of an authentic Model T Ford right out of the Museum’s collection and drive them within the historic campus.

model-t-start-demo-smThe Model T is controlled by three pedals on the floor, a handle beside the seat, and two small levers on the steering wheel. The only fuel gauge was a wooden ruler you’d place into the gas tank—most often located under the driver’s seat. A speedometer was … Read More