Are you sitting at home thinking of ways to get out and explore? Maybe you’re considering a trip to one of Michigan’s museums. Situated just north of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo in Hickory Corners, the Gilmore Car Museum is sure to delight visitors young and old.
If you’ve never been to the Gilmore Car Museum, there’s never been a better time to visit. It gets nearly 100,000 visitors a year and has hundreds of vintage and collector motorcycles and vehicles.
In fact, it has one of the largest collections of vintage and classic vehicles in the Mitten State. If classic cars and vintage vehicles pique your interest, this museum is a must-see!
Quick Facts About the Gilmore Car Museum
The Gilmore Car Museum is located at 6865 Hickory Road in Hickory Corners, about a 30-minute drive north of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, respectively. It’s part of the MotorCities National Heritage Area.
With a 90-acre campus and so much to see, it’s recommended that you allow four to six hours to explore and take advantage of all of the museum offerings.
The museum’s summer hours, from April 1 to Nov. 30, are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. During the winter season, from Dec. 1 to March 31, the museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Admission for 2022 is $16 for adults/seniors and $11 for youth aged 11-17. Active military members and children 10 and under can enter for free. Consecutive two-day passes are also available for $28.
The Gilmore Car Museum is handicap accessible with a pair of elevators that allow for second-floor access. Also, some wheelchairs are free to use, and scooters are available for rent.
The Gilmore Car Museum Exhibits
If you do make the trek to the Gilmore Car Museum, what might you expect to see? Beyond just the sheer amount of vehicles, you’ll see exhibits that really highlight the history of road travel.
There’s the largest gallery ever dedicated to the Model A and cars from the 1890s and early 1900s, including Auburn Automobiles and Duesenbergs.
Jumping forward in time, you’ll see vehicles from the Great Migration and Dust Bowl, muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s, and the 1948 Tucker, one of only 51 ever produced. Other vehicles in the massive collection include Checker Taxis, hood ornaments, bikes, and vintage pedal cars.
6 Independent Museums
On the grounds, there are six independent museums, hidden in a series of red barns that house different parts of the collection. Even better, you get admission to all six museums with your ticket. Those museums are:
- The Model A Ford Museum
- The Pierce-Arrow Museum
- The Classic Car of America Museum
- The Lincoln Motor Car Heritage Museum
- The Franklin Automobile Collection
- The Cadillac and LaSalle Museum and Research Center
Several historic barns were dismantled at their then locations and trucked to the new site, where they were carefully reassembled to house the growing stable of automotive marques.
The Shell Station & Blue Moon Diner
The Gilmore Car Museum has not only cars but also a replica Shell station from the 1930s at the entrance. This authentic re-creation features a display of memorabilia from a time when you could get a gallon of gas for just 18 cents.
Also, there’s a Blue Moon Diner from 1941, relocated from its original location in Connecticut, that serves delicious fare from a bygone era. The menu includes Coney-style and Chicago hot dogs, sandwiches, Blue Plate specials, homemade pie, old-fashioned custard, and more.
On your way out, you can stop by the gift shop stuffed full of apparel, collectibles, and toys.
Why You Need to Visit the Gilmore Car Museum
If you’re wondering why you should visit this antique car museum, there are plenty of good reasons.
For starters, the Gilmore Car Museum is the largest auto museum in North America. It started with humble origins, opening in July 1966 with just 35 cars on display. Today, you’ll see hundreds of vehicles from different eras across a huge space.
Some of these vehicles have been on display for years, but the museum is always looking to add new and interesting exhibits. A planned exhibit is Gilmore American Muscle, which will house muscle cars and be displayed in a building designed to look like a 1970s dealership.
Believe it or not, this museum, located in a town of just over 300 people, is known around the nation. Experts have named it one of the top three car museums in the United States.
Additionally, USA Today named it Michigan’s Greatest Attraction by USA Today in 2017 and one of the best attractions for car lovers in 2020.
The Exhibits Are Amazing
One of the best things about visiting the Gilmore Car Museum is all of the special exhibits. If antique cars and vehicles rev your engine, the museum always has special exhibits to experience — such as The Corvette and 20th Century Vintage Cars and Trucks.
Since it was unveiled in New York in 1953, the Corvette has been seen as the prototypical dream car with its combination of speed and style. The Corvette exhibit at Gilmore really is a sight to see and features all eight generations of the Chevy Corvette.
Visitors can see many classic Corvettes, including the 1958 Chevy Impala, which was made famous in the movie “American Graffiti,” and almost two dozen Corvettes in the entire exhibit.
Oh, the Events!
What’s even better is that there are Gilmore Car Museum events to attend. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to ride in a vintage vehicle, you can! The museum’s Ride the Classic event allows visitors to take a ride in some vintage cars right from the museum’s collection.
The rides are first-come, first-served and offered by donation. This event runs Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in April and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in May.
In September, visitors can check out the Cadillac-LaSalle Fall Festival, which is a celebration of all things Cadillac, one of the symbols of automotive style and technical excellence.
Also, in the fall, you can go on the Gilmore Fall Color Tour, which features 20 miles of stunning fall color in neighboring areas around the museum. Once you’re done, you can head inside and check out all the museums.
A full list of museum events can be found here.
You Get to Travel Through Time
One of the best things about the Gilmore Car Museum is that it allows you to travel back in time. As previously mentioned, you can scope out the 1941 Blue Moon Diner and the 1930s Shell station, but there are other exhibits to explore too.
The Negro Motorists Green Book Exhibit includes figures of a mother and daughter parked at a filling station. Video and informational panels give you a look at the history of discrimination experienced by African Americans as they traveled.
The Dust Bowl: The Great Migration Exhibit takes you back to the Dust Bowl era of the ’30s and ’40s. The vehicles tell the story of soup kitchen lines and farms buried in the dirt.
Fun All the Time, Even in Winter
As you’ve read, there’s no shortage of fun Gilmore Car Museum events, including during the wintertime. The museum recently started holding a special one-day exhibit of vintage snowmobiles for a day of outdoor fun.
The exhibit features vintage snowmobiles from 1992 and older, and the sleds are paraded by decade around the museum’s circle track for all spectators to see. The event doesn’t just feature snowmobiles though.
There are scenic rides in vintage cars and trucks, outdoor games, and ice carving competitions too. Visitors can stay warm next to an outdoor fire and fill up on hot chocolate and homemade soup. If you’re looking for the perfect way to beat the winter blues, this is the place to be.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Gilmore Car Museum
How much does it cost to get into the Gilmore Car Museum?
Admission for 2022 is as follows: $16 for adults/seniors; $11 for youth aged 11-17; free for active military members and children 10 and under. Consecutive two-day passes are available for $28 as well.
How long does it take to go through the Gilmore Car Museum?
You can visit and go through the museum at your own pace, but the museum recommends allowing four to six hours for your visit since there’s so much to explore.
How many cars are in the Gilmore Car Museum?
The short answer is a lot! The museum is home to more than 400 vintage cars and other vehicles.
Who started Gilmore Car Museum?
The Gilmore Museum began in the 1960s when founder Don Gilmore started a collection of vintage cars. Some of those early cars included a 1913 Rolls-Royce and a Ford Model T.
As his collection grew, he acquired the land that would eventually become the Gilmore Car Museum. It was Mrs. Gilmore who came up with the idea of opening the site to the public as a museum, and it opened to the public on July 31, 1966.
Explore Classic & Vintage Automobiles at the Gilmore Car Museum
If you can’t get enough of vintage cars and trucks, then the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners Michigan is the place to be. Your eyes will get wide with amazement as you take it all in — the vintage cars, the rare cars, the sheer awesomeness of favorites like the Corvette and the Mustang.
Whatever your car fancy is, you can lose yourself for hours in the collection of museums. The odds are good that you’ll be leaving with a smile on your face!