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Living through history at Gilmore Car Museum

Posted on July 18th, 2012

By: Miles Baxter
Marketing & Communications Intern at Discover Kalamazoo

Discover Kalamazoo Miles Baxter

Miles Baxter is a marketing and communications intern at Discover Kalamazoo.

Hickory Corners, Mich. The first thing I noticed when I entered the Gilmore Car Museum was the music — music from the 40s and 50s greeted me at the door and was a welcome companion on my visit. The music told of a different time of different machines and a different way of life. I was not just here to observe but here to become a part of history — for just a little while.

Jay Follis, marketing manager at Gilmore Car Museum, met up with me equipped with every little detail I wanted to know about the cars, and we began our tour.

Walking through the Gilmore Car museum was indeed walking through time. I started my tour around some of the more antique cars. The classic Ford Model T car made an appearance (if you don’t know what a Model T is, imagine a horse and carriage minus the horse), and slowly the automobiles down the line started to change. I saw the entirety of the evolution of the automobile all under one roof!

Gilmore Car Museum Discover Kalamazoo

At right, Jay Follis, marketing manager for Gilmore Car Museum, discusses
the evolution of cars in one of the many barns at Gilmore Car Museum.

Jay then led me to some of the more modern cars. The models were polished to a high sheen and could really only be described as downright classy. I walked through trying hard to focus on the notes I was taking, only to have my attention stolen away by the beauty of these models. I never really considered myself a car buff, but having Jay show me these cars and let me know all the work that went into them really opened my eyes to the innovations the automobile has gone through.

Jay walked me through the cars of some of the legends of racing, including a particular racecar that was donated to the museum under one condition: that all the original dirt and mud be left intact! This racer wanted to ensure that his car look exactly like it did when he won!

Gilmore Car Museum, Kalamazoo Michigan, Discover Kalamazoo

Gilmore Car Museum, open since 1966, was voted one of the five best automobile museums in the U.S. by Antique Automobile magazine. More than 300 extraordinary vehicles spanning more than 100 years of automotive heritage are nestled on 90 acres in eight restored historic barns.

I walked out back and was greeted with a sunny day and a wide-open campus just asking for someone to have a picnic on it. I walked through the campus admiring the day when I happened upon an old barn, filled with Cadillacs. The music in the barn played long, drawn-out tones with a hint of seriousness that really made me revere these cars for the classics that they were.

When I returned to the campus, I noticed a small building by the far side of campus. I entered and saw something that caught me off guard: two children playing up on a model of an enormous car door and seat! This was an old Disney movie set from the movie “Gnome-Mobile” (1967). Movies back then didn’t have the technology to digitally insert a tiny person, so if they wanted someone to look tiny, they had to make a huge set. As it happens, I felt pretty small, too.

Gilmore Car Museum, Kalamazoo Michigan, Discover Kalamazoo

An authentic and working 1940s diner is a favorite stop for Gilmore Car Museum visitors. Tip: Try the frozen custard.

I stopped by the old-fashioned diner before I left, and was greeting with a smile and a fun 40s environment. They served me a BBQ pork burger with some coleslaw and frozen custard while I sat and enjoyed the music before saying goodbye to a very good day at the Gilmore Car Museum.

For more info about what to do in Kalamazoo, visit our Website.

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