P4-2017-08: Deutsche Marques: German Cars at the Gilmore Museum, Story & Photos By Don Kleist and Nancy Richardson

Recap: DeutschMarques – A Gathering of German Cars At The Gilmore Museum Story and pictures by Don Kleist and Nancy Richardson

White, wooden fences, well maintained buildings and neatly trimmed lawns that seemed to go on forever, these are the sights that greeted us as we arrived at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, about 15 miles northeast of Kalamazoo. For a moment I thought I was approaching a horse farm in Kentucky. It was an impressive sight out in the middle of nowhere. In reality, Nancy and I came to Gilmore for the 6th annual DeutscheMarques Car Show.

On Saturday, July 8 more than 300 proud owners of German-made cars displayed their beauties on the grounds of the museum. There were about 85 BMWs, 72 Porsches, 60 VWs, 50 or so  M-Bs, 40 odd Audis and two Opels. In addition, Janis Joplin’s psychedelically painted 356C convertible was displayed beside SEMPCA member Vic Revera’s reproduction of her car. They looked almost identical. The Joplin car sold at auction for $1.76 million in 2015. I suspect Vic might be willing to part with his for a mere half of the auction price. A short history of the Joplin car can be found at <http://autoweek.com/article/auctions/janis-joplins-porsche-356-brings-16-million-auction>. For those interested in how Vic’s reproduction came about, visit <https://dedeporsche.com/2011/04/03/porsche-project-recreation-of-janis-joplins-psychedelic-painted-1965-porsche-356c-cabriolet/>. They are both interesting reads. (Sorry for the long URLs. There is no way to shorten them in print.)

The display arrangements had cars of the same marque parked as a group. The Porsche group included most models, 356s, 914s, many 911s, a 928, a 944, Boxsters, Caymans and a Panamera. I don’t recall any Cayennes or Macans. Mother Nature cooperated by sending a sunny day with moderate temperatures, low humidity and gentle breezes. In short, a perfect day for a car show.

Event organizers conducted a judged competition within each marque. Unlike the Concours at Porsche Parade, the judging criteria were unpublished and rather loose, more like what the judges liked, rather than according to set criteria. Awards were given for Best Survivor, Best Daily Driver, Best Car of each decade from the 1970s thru the 2010s and a Best in Show for each marque. SEMPCA member Lewis Yonce won the Best in Show-Porsche for his white 991 Turbo S. His received a crystal plate and his victory will be recognized on a trophy kept at the Porsche of Grand Rapids dealership. SEMPCA board member Fred Young and his red 996 took home the award for the best daily driver (???). Didn’t I say the criteria were somewhat loose?

A few words about The Gilmore Car Museum; the complex consists of a cluster of buildings set in out-of-the-way Hickory Corners, Michigan, population 322 or so. The Museum holds about 400 cars of all types, brassies, Duesies, Rolls-Royces, Indy 500 race cars, a Tucker 48, and even a silver 1930s Mercedes-Benz that spent WW II and the years until the Berlin Wall came down buried in it’s owner’s garden in eastern Germany. In short, something for all car enthusiasts.

In addition to the main museum building that primarily houses cars, other buildings hold special collections. Some are presented as replicas of car dealerships, one a 1930s Shell gas station, another an old fashioned diner. Yet another building is devoted to hood ornaments, or as the museum calls them, “Mascots.”  And The Gilmore Car Museum is the only place the world where you can see the only movie set to ever leave Walt Disney Studios – the one-of-a-kind studio set and car from the 1967 Walt Disney film, The Gnome-Mobile. Visit <https://www.gilmorecarmuseum.org> for more info.

Mapquest tells me that Hickory Corners is 163 miles and a 2 hour 46 minute drive from my condo in Shelby Township. Therefore a one day trip out and back  is possible. But Nancy and I prefer to go to Kalamazoo in the afternoon, spend the night there and have a more leisurely visit to the museum the next day. And we like to dine at the Bell’s Brewery, good food and great suds. Yummm!


Author Don Kleist and Nancy Richardson with their 50th Anniversary 911