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Local News

The Gilmore Car Museum celebrates its golden anniversary with an all-new event to honor its founder: "The Donald Gilmore Classic."
The pre-WWII car show and swap meet will be Saturday, May 21, with a driving tour Friday, May 20.

A special event dedicated to all pre-WWII vehicles from 1896 - 1942, it representing both the first fifty years of the automobile as well as cars that established the Gilmore Car Museum.

The non-profit's very first event, held in the spring of 1966, was a "Brass & Gas" car show, named for the pre-1916 autos that had brass head lamps, bulb horns and windshield frames, rather than the chrome of today.

"The Museum hosts more than a dozen car shows each year," Michael Spezia, executive director explains, "and this one honors the legacy of museum founders Donald and Genevieve Gilmore."

Spectator admission to the show is $12 per person and includes visiting the entire Gilmore Car Museum campus and all exhibits at no extra charge. Those under 11 are free. //

With encouragement from his wife, Donald Gilmore became a reluctant antique car hobbyist in 1963 when he acquired just two old cars.

Within three years, he had obtained 57 vehicles, ranging from the pioneering 1903 Columbia Electric to a 1929 Duesenberg, the auto of the ultra-wealthy.

Those types of cars are featured at the event, as well as rarely seen high-wheeled motor buggies, true horseless carriages, and one-cylinder autos like the 1903 Curved Dash Oldsmobile, and the classic luxury cars of the 1930s, Cadillac, Lincoln and Packard.

Gilmore not only opened his unique collection to the public in 1966, he and his wife shared their passion with the community-and world-by gifting it to a non-profit foundation to secure it for generations to come.

Today, Gilmore's Car Museum, North America's largest auto museum, is home to seven independent auto museums and displays over 400 vehicles in two dozen historic structures on a 90-acre park-like campus.

Demonstrations at the event will showcase the crank starting of the popular Model T Ford "Tin Lizzy," lighting a fire under a steam-powered Stanley, and revealing the mammoth 522 cubic inch engine of a 1909 Thomas Flyer-something one would expect to find only in the high-performance muscle cars of the 1960s.

The Museum anticipates the one-day event to be the largest public gathering of pre-WWII vehicles, passenger automobiles, commercial vehicles and trucks and motorcycles in the region.

In addition to the more well-known brands of Buick, Chevrolet, and Dodge Brothers, many of the cars expected to attend carry names long lost to history, including Desoto, Hudson, Kissel, Nash, Overland, Packard, Pierce, Reo, Studebaker, and Winton.

The show will include a swap meet area for car parts, tools, vintage attire, and antiques.
Those who enter a vehicle built between 1896 and 1942 into the show (sorry, no hot rods, customs or modified vehicles will be included) are eligible for a limited edition of awards unique to the show and are invited to take part in a free driving tour on Friday prior to the event.  

Registration information is available online at GilmoreCarMuseum.org. Gilmore's is located 20 minutes northeast of Kalamazoo on M-43 at 6865 Hickory Road.


Photo: Donald and Genevieve Gilmore drive their 1908 Stanley Steamer, circa 1965.
(photo courtesy of Gilmore Car Museum)
 

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