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, a maverick General Motors engineer, as the “father” of the muscle car when he conceptualized, engineered, and marketed—mostly to a young male audience—the entry-level 1964 Pontiac Tempest with a high-performance V-8 engine package known as a GTO.

Demand for the GTO set off intense competition between car companies to produce the most powerful and “extreme” street machines.

Museum guests will be able to compare the GTO to a 1965 Plymouth Belvedere (pictured left) powered by a 426 cu. in. Hemi engine as well as the 1970 Ford Torino powered by the 429 cu. in. Cobra Jet engine.

Those who may wonder just what makes an Oldsmobile 442 can marvel at the 360 hp 1966 Olds W-30 with the company’s now legendary numerical designation 4-4-2: “4” barrel carb, “4” speed transmission, and “2” (dual) exhaust.

Due to the oil crisis, stricter air pollution laws and high insurance premiums, the production of muscle car models ended by the mid-1970s. Now these cars have become highly desirable in the collector world and are bringing astonishing prices on the auction block.

Because of the heightened interest in these collector cars over the past several years the Museum is pleased to be able to offer this special exhibit with OPEN HOODS to our guests for a limited time.

So, “race” on over to the Gilmore Car Museum to check out the special muscle car exhibit running throughout 2018.  However, if you want the unique opportunity to see the muscle under the hoods of these high-power machines, be sure to get there for the exclusive OPEN HOODS display December 4 – 10, 2017.

Visit to learn more about the Museum and the nearly 400 vehicles on display; its unique exhibits featuring muscle cars, vintage trucks and two of the rarest Mercedes in existence; and the Museum’s special New Year’s Eve Celebration! 

Cars featured in the special exhibit “Born to Perform – The Era of the Muscle Car”
1962 Chevrolet Bel Air 409
1964 Pontiac GTO
1965 Plymouth Belvedere
1966 Oldsmobile 442 W30 Track-Pak
1967 Shelby GT500
1969 AMC AMX
1969 Pontiac Trans Am
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6
1970 Dodge Super Bee
1970 Ford Torino 429 Cobra Jet
1971 AMC Hornet S/C 360
1971 Oldsmobile 442 W30
1971 Pontiac T37 Racer
1972 Buick Gran Sport
1974 Plymouth Road Runner

Low Resolution Photos attached: Please credit

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 Special Roadster has only changed hands three times and is considered the most original survivor in existence.

As one of only six “longtail” Special Roadsters produced—sporting disappearing convertible top, steep “V” split windshield and hidden spare tire—this 1936 is the ultimate 540 K drop-top. 

Also joining the Museum exhibit is a 1938 Mercedes Offener Tourenwagen (Sport Tourer) of which only two were ever built. This sole surviving example is on special loan exclusive to the Gilmore Car Museum.

This ultra-rare motorcar was exhibited during the 1938 auto show held in Berlin, Germany and was then immediately purchased by a local mining company.

The car’s whereabouts during the ravages of World War II are unknown, but at some point it was concealed in a bunker-like basement of a Dresden home where it remained for decades. This remarkable survivor was discovered only after the fall of the Berlin Wall, completely entombed behind a sealed-off brick wall where the outside doors and windows had been bricked up and hidden by a rose garden.

“It’s amazing to think that automobiles of this caliber and historical importance both survived WWII Germany and Soviet-controlled East Germany,” remarked Jay Follis, Marketing Director for the Gilmore Car Museum.

He went on to explain that both automobiles will only be showcased at the Gilmore Car Museum until April 2018.

The supercharged Mercedes 540 K, built between 1936 and 1940, has become legendary around the world for its exquisite beauty and breath-taking performance. Prior to World War II, Mercedes-Benz was arguably one of the world’s most prestigious automakers: the cars of kings, captains of industry, and the rich and famous alike.

Many historians, automotive journalists and collectors consider the Mercedes-Benz 540 K series as the finest auto made during the pre-WWII era and the zenith of motorcar luxury.

Worldwide auction house RM-Sotheby’s describes the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadsters,  “among the most instantly recognizable, valuable and desirable of all automobiles of the Classic Era.”

“We are indebted to the generosity of the private collectors who have afforded the general public the opportunity to marvel at these two magnificent vehicles while on display here,” said Museum Executive Director Christopher Shires.  

The Gilmore Car Museum near Kalamazoo displays nearly 400 vehicles year-round and currently offers two additional special interest exhibits—muscle cars and vintage trucks—that run through April.  To learn more about the museum, their exhibits and events visit

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Photos – please credit 1936 to RM Sothebys and 1938 to David Lyon / Gilmore Car Museum.