A short drive from Detroit is the small town of Ypsilanti, home of a surprising number of seemingly unconnected automotive milestones. My first stop was the World’s Last Hudson Dealer, Miller Motors, and the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, and the National Corvair Museum. All at the same location, 100 East Cross Street. It’s also part of the Motor Cities National Heritage Area.
Checking out some squiggly lines on a map, I ended up heading northeast on County Road 40a from Auburn. After crossing the state line into Ohio, the road was now state route 249. Joining up with SR-2, I headed more north, I think. It was a beautiful drive through Ohio farm country.
The museum fills most of the car company’s old Art Deco administration building with priceless Duesys, Auburns and Cords. Exhibits on the company and history are also excellent.
Upstairs, an exhibit on Indiana’s automotive history is also fantastic.
These cars aren’t for the casual collector and their musuem is a great recipient of their generosity. The cars are all in fabulous condition and nicely displayed.
Just as with the rest of the spots on this tour, I was suprised that there were very few people visiting on a beautiful summer day. Being from San Diego, most people asked why I would take my vacation in the Midwest; anybody who can goes to San Diego in the summer. I hope that means that the local folk frequent these museums the rest of the year.
Behind the administration building and ACD Museum is the National Automotive and Truck Musuem, housed in what was once the Auburn Automobile Company’s research and engineering building. It’s a large private collection with a wide variety of brands, vehicles and toys.
A real highlight of the trip was visiting South Bend and the Studebaker National Museum. I’ve always had a soft spot for these cars, probably since my dad always boasted about the red ’52 Champion he had… the first car he ever bought. As a kid, I watched Mr. Ed on TV every week and Wilbur always drove a Lark; check my YouTube area for a vintage Mr. Ed spot I’ve favorited, plus a couple of old Stude spots I’ve posted.
Hall of Fame Museum
Friday, July 14, 2006
The Speedway museum is a fantastic collection of old race cars, memorabilia, track history and cars made in Indiana. Everything from Duesenberg racers and street cars, a turbine-powered race car, early pace cars and trophies are on display. Allow at least two hours to go through the museum.
More than 75 vehicles are on display. Each car has a story behind it and the information cars are complete and well-written. Unlike the rest of the stops on this trip, I’ve been to the Hall of Fame Museum before. A couple of cars stood out:
The Turbine: In the late 1960s, several cars raced powered by turbine engines. They can be spotted by their rather square rear ends, which house high-powered turbines. None won the race but famed engine builder Andy Granitelli tried several times.
The Diesel: Believe it or not, a diesel once raced at Indianapolis. It won the pole in 1952.
I didn’t realize that Tony Hulman, who bought the track in 1946, came from the family that made Clabber Girl Baking Powder. Don’t miss the 20-minute movie on the track’s history. It’s included in the $3 admission price.
I went back to the track that Sunday to take the Grounds Tour, an extended tour that goes into the press box and lets visitors walk on the last brick section of the track. It’s $25 and I’m really looking forward to it. On my last visit, I only had time for the shorter track tour, a bus ride around the track and pit area.