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archival boxes containing more than 396,000 patents, representing some of the automobile industry’s most important historical documents.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

Posted on November 3rd, 2016

Gilmore Car Museum High School Students to Compete in 2017 Great Race

gr-logoDuring next June’s running of the esteemed Great Race of vintage automobiles, competitors will make a stop at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI.

Over 120 pre-1972 autos will be traveling more than 2,200 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.

Of the over 100 entrants, about six teams from high school and college programs will run in the X-Cup Division, while they won’t compete for cash, they will compete for possible student scholarship funds and “an experience of a life time,” according to Fred Colgren, Education Director of the Gilmore Car Museum.race

Colgren recently announced that a team of high school students from the Museum’s Gilmore Garage Works, an after-school program that provides hands-on involvement with maintaining and restoring vintage cars, will run in the 2017 Great Race.  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 Museum began Garage Works in 2008 to help fill the void left after several local schools eliminated shop classes.ggw-students The Gilmore utilized its facility and staff … Read More

Posted on October 17th, 2016

ArtPrize 8 Entry Donated to the Gilmore Car Museum



brick-1940-pontiac-1-smArtist Paula Blinco Collins, best known for her more than 200 bas-relief brick sculptures on display throughout the country, has donated her recent 2016 ArtPrize competition entry, “Mom’s Favorite Car,” to the Gilmore Car Museum.

“It’s a 1940 Pontiac that will never rust”, explained Collins.

That’s because her entry is a life-sized recreation of a car made entirely out of brick—12,000 pounds of brick—which is nearly four times the weight of an actual 1940 Pontiac.

Collins, a freelance sculptor from Denton, Texas, joined 1452 other artists from around the world in entering the 8th annual ArtPrize competition held at various venues throughout Grand Rapids, MI. A total of $500,000 in prize money was up for grabs in what is described as a “radically open” international art competition. Winners are decided by both public votes and an expert jury.

The Art Newspaper describes ArtPrize as the most attended public art event in the world and the organization’s website shows that more than 380,000 public votes were cast this year. Collins’ unique brick automobile ranked fifth in this year’s three-dimensional entries.

Collins’ work includes commissions to create bas-relief … Read More

Posted on October 7th, 2016

Gilmore Car Museum Gears Up for 6th Annual Halloween Spooktacular

2016-flyer-picThe Gilmore Car Museum’s 6th annual Halloween Spooktacular is a FUN and SAFE place to have a ghoulishly great time with the whole family! The open-house style event will be held on Thursday, October 27, 2016 from 4:00-7:00pm and is sponsored by

The Gilmore Spooktacular is an event exclusively geared towards kids 12 and under and will feature trunk-or-treating throughout the museum’s galleries, a kid-friendly featured film in the Heritage Center Theater, and special treats and samples from local businesses! Plus, enjoy ghoulishly grand lawn games, vintage car rides, and other outdoor activities on the Museum’s 90-acre campus, weather permitting.

It’s sure to be a HOWLING good time for the whole family!

As a non-profit organization, the Gilmore Car Museum would like to thank our local businesses and organizations for supporting this fall fundraiser and donating the candy and prizes that children will be receiving at the event this year.

Admission: Children 12 and under are FREE; Adults $5.00/person

Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. This event will be held rain or shine.

The Gilmore Car Museum—North America’s largest auto museum—is located just 20 minutes northeast of Kalamazoo on M-43 and Hickory Road. To … Read More

Posted on October 3rd, 2016


Written by Jay Follis, Director of Marketing
Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, MI

“The Golden Age of Sports Cars, 1949-1967” is the title of an all-new special museum exhibition opening at the Gilmore Car Museum on Saturday Oct 1 and will run until April 2017. This exhibit showcases nearly two dozen of rarest and most sought after sports cars in the world including: Janis Joplin’s 1964 Porsche 356, Nicolas Cage’s 1967 Ferrari 275/GTB 4, the race inspired 1955 Mercedes Benz Gull Wing, and an authentic Shelby Cobra 427.

“This amazing exhibition has been assembled by guest curators Tom Kayser and John Lacko,” stated Museum Director Michael Spezia. “It highlights the ‘Golden Years’ of sports cars with several exceptional vehicles.”

Just after WWII many returning American servicemen brought back a variety of sports cars they had discovered in Europe. These small cars were ill suited for a family and were often uncomfortable, but they offered an exciting experience to drive. American car manufacturers quickly recognized the enthusiasm and potential market and by the early 1950s they had introduced American cars to compete. The Chevrolet Corvette debuted in 1953, the Kaiser Darrin arrived in 1954, and the Ford Thunderbird was introduced in … Read More