Embarking on a journey through the heart of automotive history, this road trip takes you on a fascinating exploration of car culture, featuring hidden gems and iconic museums in the Detroit area and beyond.
As a Detroit-area native, I’ve been spoiled by the wealth of attractions in automotive history. Despite not being a car museum enthusiast, the historical significance of these places caught my attention, making them worthy of a visit.
The ACD Museum in Auburn, Indiana, is a captivating experience set in the beautifully preserved art deco factory showroom for E.L. Cord’s Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg automotive concerns. With a focus on prewar full classics, including the revered marques, the museum offers a genuine journey into automotive elegance and history.
In the ACD Museum’s backyard, NATMUS is housed in former ACD factory buildings. This museum showcases a wide range of trucks, postwar American cars, and automobilia, featuring the iconic Futurliner No. 10, a restored gem from General Motors’s Parade of Progress.
Studebaker’s impact on South Bend, Indiana, is immortalized in this museum, housing 33 core cars donated by the corporation before its demise. The collection also includes military vehicles, such as the two-tracked M-29 Weasel, and presidential carriages, offering a comprehensive glimpse into Studebaker’s rich history.
Situated on a 90-acre campus in western Michigan, the Gilmore Car Museum boasts a vast, generalist collection spanning from early antiques to special interest cars of the late ’70s and early ’80s. The genius of the Gilmore lies in its collaboration with standalone partner museums, each dedicated to specific automotive themes, creating a diverse and immersive experience.
Celebrating the legacy of Ransom E. Olds, this museum in Lansing, Michigan, showcases the automobile pioneer’s impact on the industry. The collection leans heavily on Oldsmobile and REO vehicles, providing a comprehensive look at Olds’ contributions.
Located in the historic Depot Town district, this museum in Ypsilanti, Michigan, pays homage to the city’s role in automotive history. Focused on orphan cars and featuring a Hudson dealership set up, the museum’s collection includes the iconic Fabulous Hudson Hornet NASCAR racer and a glimpse into Preston Tucker’s legacy.
These automotive attractions, surviving extended closures due to COVID, now more than ever, deserve our support. A week-long road trip through these museums promises a unique blend of history, culture, and classic cars, making it a win-win for enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.