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 1955.
For a very short period, guests will be able to see 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 is slated for only the first 10 days of the exhibit.
Joplin purchased the Porsche used in 1968 and had it painted bumper to bumper in a mural which includes psychedelic skull-like faces, mushrooms, and floating eyes as well as landscapes, butterflies, and birds. The car became Joplin’s daily driver in the San Francisco Bay area and it’s said that fans would often leave notes for her under the windshield wipers.
The bright yellow 1967 Ferrari 275/GTB 4 was bought new right out of a dealer’s showroom with the same horsepower as Ferrari race engines and once belonged to Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage.
While multiple replicas of Carroll Shelby’s famed Cobra 427 have been built by hobbyist the Gilmore Car Museum’s exhibit features a very rare authentic example. The unaltered 1967 Cobra is one of only 30 “Street” versions produced and was delivered new by Brondes Ford of Toledo, OH and is the 6th from the last Cobra ever produced. It is capable reaching 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds with a top speed of 163 mph.
The special exhibit is sponsored in part by the Mad Dogs & Englishmen British Car Club and was assembled by guest curators Tom Kayser and John Lacko, both well-known locally and among sports car aficionados.
Kayser served ten years as the director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts followed by a decade at the same post with the Gilmore Car Museum. Lacko is a well-respected photojournalist who actually got his start covering motorsports at Martin US-131 Drag Way and went on to cover several famed races in California. For more than 20 years his work has regularly appeared in the Kalamazoo Gazette and it has been published in countless magazines, such as Time, books, and even prior museum exhibits.
In total, the Gilmore Car Museum’s all-new special exhibition, “The Golden Age of Sports Cars, 1949-1967” includes nearly two dozen of the rarest and most sought after sports cars in the world and runs until April. The Joplin Porsche will only be exhibited through Monday, October 10th.
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 learn more about the Gilmore Car Museum visit: www.GilmoreCarMuseum.org or call the Museum at 269-671-5089.