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Classic Car Club of America Museum Announces New Executive Director

January 15, 2024

The Classic Car Club of America Museum (CCCAM) has appointed John Hansen as its new Executive Director, effective January 15, 2024. In this role, Mr. Hansen will direct the day-to-day operations of the museum and research library, the organization’s marketing and promotional efforts, as well as planning for “The Experience”, the museum’s signature annual event held the first weekend in June.

“John’s background and passion for the hobby, his involvement with clubs, events and Gilmore enhances our initiatives to preserve Full Classics®, preserve their story and educate others on the importance of the Classic Era to automotive history. We are excited to have him part of our leadership team.” says Candace Robbins Haag, President CCCAM Board.

Involved in the collector car hobby for over 30 years, Mr. Hansen is the owner of Michigan Automotive Inspection Services (MAIS), a collector car consulting and appraisal firm serving clients around the world. Additionally, Hansen is an active volunteer in several local car clubs and served on the Education Committee of the Gilmore Car Museum.

John Hansen

Mr. Hansen is also a published automotive writer whose work was featured in the book “Classic Car Adventures”, as well as articles in Yahoo, MSN, and Motorious. He has also appeared as a guest lecturer on the collector car industry at the Gilmore Car Museum.

About the Classic Car Club of America Museum

As the first Partner Museum established on the campus of The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI, the CCCAM celebrates the concept of Art In Motion, with a collection of over 40 historically significant “Full Classic” automobiles on display, as designated by The Classic Car Club of America. The museum is also home to one of the largest mascot collections in the world, with nearly 700 unique mascots on display. For more information, please visit cccamusuem.org.

The 2024 CCCA Museum Experience

Power & Performance: Then & Now

May 31 – June 2, 2024 · Hickory Corners, Michigan

Host Hotel

Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown,

303 North Rose Street,
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Make own reservations, please call 269-382-4000 or on-line at: https://www.hilton.com/en/attend-my-event/azonegi-cccam-465ffef3-ad4a-439a-8e33-5b847383a5db/

Room rate: $169.00 (excludes tax). 

The deadline for the group rate is May 1, 2024

Event Schedule (tentative)

Friday, May 31

  • Registration
  • Driving Challenges
  • Cocktails
  • BBQ
  • Movie and Popcorn

Saturday, June 1

  • Registration
  • Concours Judging
  • Lunch
  • Concours Awards and Parade
  • Cocktail Reception
  • Banquet

   Friday, May 31

  • A car course challenge on the grounds of the Gilmore’s 90 acre campus. ~ Walk through our collection highlighting vehicles in our Power and Performance Exhibit running throughout the 2024 Season. 

  • Join us for a Power BBQ and the night will be topped off with a Gilmore/ CCCAM Movie night.

   Saturday, June 1

  • Experience Judging, with all Full Classic’s® welcome. ~ Relax for a Performance luncheon and the Awards Parade. ~ Join us at the Catalyst Center in Kalamazoo (near the host hotel) for a celebration Banquet.

Sunday, June 2-June 4

  • Join us for a driving tour of the Grand Traverse Bay and Mission Peninsula area. ~ Exploring the towns, wineries and beautiful scenery of the area.

   Sunday, June 2

  • Brunch and Tour of the W.K. Kellogg Manor House 
 

   Sunday, June 2 – June 4

  • Experience the Classic Era Tour – Plan to depart after brunch at the W.K. Kellogg Manor House for three days heading south into Indiana with stops at Classic Era Museums & Private Collections.  More details on this event will be coming soon.

DRIVING TOUR HOST HOTEL

Hampton Inn 1968 Lincolnway E, Goshen, IN 46526
$109/night plus tax, Breakfast Included
For reservations, please call 574-533-8800, use Group code “Driving Experience”or register online at:
https://www.hilton.com/en/attend-my-event/sbngshx-edt-30998a38-c216-4897-9492-b05e9edbf8d2/

 

If you have any questions, please contact:
Carol Vogt, Administrative Assistant at cvogt@cccamuseum.org or 269-671-5333
John Hansen, Executive Director at jhansen@cccamuseum.org or 269-671-5333

The Classic Car Club of America Museum will bring you The Experience, (June 2-5); a new exhibition of European Luxury cars, and a trip through the “Irish Hills of Michigan.”

Mark your calendars and join us here in Hickory Corners, MI for a great weekend of good food, entertainment, and a picturesque Michigan tour. Our 2023 European Luxury Exhibit will feature Classics not seen anywhere on the Gilmore Complex.

The Experiencing European Luxury will welcome you to the Gilmore Campus on Friday, June 2 for a “European style” BBQ, and a tour of the new 2023 exhibit that features 3 loaned Classics not seen anywhere on the Gilmore Campus. Friday evening will end with a VIP gathering on campus to hear the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra Quartet, taking us through the sounds of Europe’s famous classical music composers.

Saturday will be filled with special events, including an on-campus luncheon, jurying of your great classic cars, and more music, and wine tastings. Also, at the CCCAM Banquet we will be gathering at the newest contemporary site in downtown Kalamazoo called The Catalyst Center. With floor to ceiling windows and a beautiful bright interior. This year each course will focus on a different European Country and the tastes that made each region famous! The same caterer from the Grand Opening will ensure this is a dining experience to remember.

Sunday we will leave from the Gilmore campus to the “Irish Hills of Michigan” for a two-day tour of this historic part of the state. Dan Cherry writes “As immigration into the newly christened Michigan state territory reached its peak, a small knot of Irish immigrants, some seeking new life in the United States, called a small portion of northern Lenawee County home. The rolling hills and crystal lakes, it is said, reminded them of their home country and they acquired that tangible reminder of Ireland. “

For those who want to experience this tour in luxury, we will be auctioning off the opportunity to tour this countryside in the newest addition to our collection, our 1937 Packard V12 Victoria Convertible coachwork by Rollston. The tour package comes complete with a chauffeur.

We will visit Ye Ole Carriage Shop, a collection of Michigan made cars as well as other eccentric memorabilia of the last 100 years. We will also dine at a local favorite restaurant situated on one of the many picturesque lakes in the region.

The 2023 CCCA Museum Experience

European Luxury Cars

June 2 & 3, 2023 · Hickory Corners, Michigan

Driving Tour · June 4-6, 2023

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2023 CCCA Museum Experience!   
We can’t wait to see you again next year!
Event Schedule

Friday, June 2

  • Registration
  • English BBQ
  • Kalamazoo Symphony Chamber Orchestra

Saturday, June 3

  • Registration
  • Show Field
  • Lunch
  • Wine Tasting
  • Chocolate Tasting
  • Awards Parade
  • European Luxury Banquet

   Sunday, June 4 – Tuesday, June 6

  • Driving Tour

The Classic Car Club of America Museum will bring you The Experience, (June 2-5); a new exhibition of European Luxury cars, and a trip through the “Irish Hills of Michigan.”

Mark your calendars and join us here in Hickory Corners, MI for a great weekend of good food, entertainment, and a picturesque Michigan tour. Our 2023 European Luxury Exhibit will feature Classics not seen anywhere on the Gilmore Complex.

The Experiencing European Luxury will welcome you to the Gilmore Campus on Friday, June 2 for a “European style” BBQ, and a tour of the new 2023 exhibit that features 3 loaned Classics not seen anywhere on the Gilmore Campus. Friday evening will end with a VIP gathering on campus to hear the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra Quartet, taking us through the sounds of Europe’s famous classical music composers.

Saturday will be filled with special events, including an on-campus luncheon, jurying of your great classic cars, and more music, and wine tastings. Also, at the CCCAM Banquet we will be gathering at the newest contemporary site in downtown Kalamazoo called The Catalyst Center. With floor to ceiling windows and a beautiful bright interior. This year each course will focus on a different European Country and the tastes that made each region famous! The same caterer from the Grand Opening will ensure this is a dining experience to remember.

Sunday we will leave from the Gilmore campus to the “Irish Hills of Michigan” for a two-day tour of this historic part of the state. Dan Cherry writes “As immigration into the newly christened Michigan state territory reached its peak, a small knot of Irish immigrants, some seeking new life in the United States, called a small portion of northern Lenawee County home. The rolling hills and crystal lakes, it is said, reminded them of their home country and they acquired that tangible reminder of Ireland. “

For those who want to experience this tour in luxury, we will be auctioning off the opportunity to tour this countryside in the newest addition to our collection, our 1937 Packard V12 Victoria Convertible coachwork by Rollston. The tour package comes complete with a chauffeur.

We will visit Ye Ole Carriage Shop, a collection of Michigan made cars as well as other eccentric memorabilia of the last 100 years. We will also dine at a local favorite restaurant situated on one of the many picturesque lakes in the region.

The Grand Re-Opening Celebration of the CCCA Museum a Smashing Success

Saturday, August 28, 2021 will be long remembered by the 160 plus attendees to the festivities as an amazing day to celebrate the long awaited expansion and new ways of exhibiting some of the finest automobiles ever made. My congratulations to the Museum Board for a perfect day of celebration that included documented stories by museum members and their memories of touring, restoring and becoming an important community member to the CCCAM. Thanks to Hemmings for collecting these recollections as well as documenting the entire weekend of events. (More Hemmings info to follow.)

Other highlights included the dedication of the Ann Klien sculpture, “Racing to Hershey” by artist Alexander Buchan, as well as the dedication of the Katie Robbins’ Plaza and sculpture, tours of the new installation and ending the evening with a gorgeous five course black-tie dinner with our special guest Wayne Carini. Also, there was a special “thank you” video tribute to Lee and Floy Barthel for their continued support of the Museum and the building expansion.

I thank everyone for their support for the present – and future of the Museum. We have many more innovations and celebrations ahead of us and, with your ongoing patronage we will grow and continue to tell the stories of the Classic Era for generations to come!

Thanks to Don Wood for the great photographs he captured during the Grand Re-Opening Celebration!

— Don Desmett

Major Museum Expansion

February 6, 2021

The Classic Car Club of America Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan is currently undergoing an expansion. It will add 11,000 square feet of display space to what is already the largest museum dedicated exclusively to the automobiles and archives of the Classic era. The addition will more than double the display space in the former Octagon Barn.

Here is the floor plan for the interior.

Museum Expansion

And proposed views of the foyer and salon:

Inside Museum Image

Our Mascot Collection Now Available on Museum Website

CCCAM Mascot Sample

The CCCA Museum’s extraordinary collection of nearly 700 mascots has been individually photographed and is now available for viewing on our website here . This collection was generously donated in 1996 and 1998 by CCCA charter member, Marvin Tamaroff.

It was an Englishman who first thought of a mascot for his vehicle. On the dash of his 1896 four-cylinder Daimler, Lord Montagu of Beaulier placed a bronze statuette of St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers. The mascot idea quickly caught fire. By the turn of the century, examples could be purchased in fine jewelry shops and a few accessory stores. Motorcar owners did not necessarily ascribe to the mascot selected for them by the manufacturer for their vehicles. Often they preferred one of their own which more specifically reflected their taste, their lifestyle – or their station. The earliest dated American mascot design was a small gnome-like fellow called “Gobbo, God of Good Luck” whose likeness was copyrighted by L. V. Aronson in March 1909. According to William C. Williams, in Motoring Mascots of the World, Aronson was also responsible for the graceful diving girl “Speed Nymph,” which hit the marketplace in 1910. (Examples of both are in the Museum’s collection).

Eventually, mascots were located on the caps of the exposed radiator in the very front of cars. Some were “official” manufacturer mascots, for instance the “Flying Lady” for Rolls Royce, while others added personal distinction. All types of figures, animals, and symbols were attached to owner’s radiator caps. Once radiators were enclosed under the hood of a car, the radiator cap adornments became hood ornaments (mascots) on the front of cars. Among today’s production cars the traditional mascot survives only on the likes of Rolls-Royce, Mercedes and Brooks Stevens’ Excalibur.

The Museum’s collection includes rare, mostly European, priceless works of art, many of which are one-of-a-kind, dating back to the earliest days of motoring. Many were commissioned and are signed works by sculptors Aubert, Renevey, Eastbough, Monier and Bazin. There are beautiful women with flowing tresses along with various birds and animals depicting speed and graceful movement. Other animals and mythological characters that display strength and mystery are also exhibited. Customized designs include cats, dogs, elephants, women, men, children and World War soldiers as well as airplanes, yachts, cars, golf balls, wheels, globes, and auto emblems.

The 2019 CCCA Museum Experience

All Gilmore Partner Museum automobiles and Full Classics®

Each year during the first weekend in June, The Classic Car Club of America Museum hosts The Experience on the grounds of the Gilmore Car Museum. Many Full Classics® are displayed along with automobiles of a specific marque from the history of fine automobile manufacturing. Since the first event in 1987, The Experience has drawn thousands of visitors annually to Hickory Corners, Michigan, where visitors are also able to view over 300 fine automobiles on display on the 90-acre Gilmore Car Museum campus.

The theme for 2019 was all Full Classics® and all Gilmore Partner Museum automobiles: Cadillac and LaSalle, Franklin, Lincoln, Model A, and Pierce-Arrow.

Text by Ara and Diane Ekizian, Rich Ray, and Carol Vogt – Photography by Don Woods and Authors

Story continues below image gallery.

A TRIO OF GRAND EVENTS

The 33rd annual CCCA Museum Experience on the Gilmore Museum campus in Hickory Corners, Michigan took place on the weekend of May 31 – June 7.

Puffy white clouds dotting a beautiful blue sky, warm temps, and a gentle breeze greeted everyone Friday evening to begin this years’ Experience.  CCCA friends (and soon to be friends) gathered amongst Automotive Art in Gilmore Car Museum’s Carriage House to enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before moving into the Heritage Center for dinner. Museum President, Howard Freedman welcomed all to the first ever “Trio of Grand Events”; A Grand Classic, The Grand Experience, and a driving Tour to Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Saturday, June 1st The Michigan Region Grand Classic, first of the “Trio of Grand Events”, kicked off with partly sunny skies.  Exhibitors were checked in by Nancy and Larry Seyfarth and their Classics were arranged on the lawn in front of the CCCA.  But as judging began, ominous clouds were seen in the distance and it wasn’t long before the rains came.  Led by Michigan Region Area Head Judge, Terry Ernest, and Assistant Head Judge, Marcus Shelley, some judging was complete before exhibitors covered their cars and ran into Museum buildings to cover themselves.  Throughout the afternoon judges huddled, bolted, and dodged rain drops as they tried diligently to determine the virtues of each Full Classic® to which inspired a new rendition of “Singing in the Rain”:

Judging in the Rain
We’re judging in the rain.
It drove us insane.
What a glorious feeling when the sun shone again.
The cars were all groomed.
The judging resumed
With all the results being finally tuned.
We were judging, just judging in the rain.

To complete the judging process, Terry and Marcus were assisted by Head Tabulator, Irene Shelley and her team Amy Jidov, Floy Barthel, Barbara Morningstar, Michelle Seyfarth and Rita Ernest as Runner.

The Grand Classic awards were as follows:

  • Grand Classic – Premier Early 1931 Franklin 153 Sport Coupe by Derham 1st 98.75 Points Robert Cornman Pen Argyl, PA
  • Primary Production 1937-1939 1937 Packard 1501 Coupe 1st 96.00 Points Jan Grant Franklin, WI
  • Premier Late 1940 Packard 1803 Convertible Coupe 1st 97.50 Points Jim Cowin Cambridge, OH
  • Premier Middle 1938 Packard 1607 1st 99.75 Points Tom Brace St. Paul, MN
  • Primary Custom 1935 Lincoln K Coupe by LeBaron 1st 95.75 Points Ted Stahl Chesterfield, MI
  • Primary Production 1930-1932 1932 Auburn 8-100A Cabriolet 1st 97.50 Points John Brewer Davenport, IA
  • Primary Production 1940 Packard 1803 Touring Sedan 1st 98.70 Points Lee Barthel Northville, MI
  • Primary Production 1941 Cadillac 60S Sedan 1st 98.50 Points Jim Morningstar Brighton, MI
  • Primary Production 1947 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet 1st 99.50 Points Al Longley Dayton, MN
  • Senior Production 1937 Packard 1506 Sedan 1st 99.50 Points Mark Desch Stillwater, MN
  • Touring Early 1925 Cole Master Brouette Sedan by Willoughby Over Qualified 96.5 Points Kevin Fleck Canton, MI
  • Touring Early 1929 Invicta A Touring by Carlton Over Qualified 97.00 Points Ted Delphia Livonia, MI
  • Touring Middle 1938 Buick 40 Town Car by Brewster Over Qualified 95.00 Points Ron DeWoskin Fitchburg, WI
  • Touring Vintage 1923 Cole 890 Coupe 1st 90 Points Ben Burnham-Fleck Canton, MI

During the on and off rain showers, exhibitors took refuge in various buildings touring exhibits including the Invitational Automotive Art Exhibit, judged by Marcus Shelley and co-organized by artists, Steve Macy and Tom Hale.  Additional prominent artists were Alex Buchan, Gerald Freeman, and Dan McCrary, creator of this year’s poster painting.  Showcased on the poster is CCCA member, Tom Tuls’s multi-award winning 1931 Packard 840 Roadster.  Another excellent exhibit, co-created by Chris Shires, Executive Director of Gilmore Car Museum and Michigan Region’s Rich Ray, displayed the history of the former Fisher Body Craftsmen’s Guild.  The 1930 – 1968 program encouraged young automobile designers to compete for an opportunity to win college scholarships.  Included in the exhibit are many fine model cars designed and built by applicants.

Saturday evening, all enjoyed a fine dinner at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo followed by the Artist award presented to Dan McCrary for his amazing water color paintings and Grand Classic Awards as follows:

Sunday, June 2nd transitioned quickly from a cloudy morning to a glorious, sunny day with billowy clouds and just enough of a breeze.  A large turnout of Full Classics and non-Classics filled the field in front of the CCCA Museum for the 33rd Annual Museum Experience; the second of the week’s “Trio of Grand Events”.  This year, the Experience featured all Cadillac & LaSalle, Franklin, Lincoln, Model A Ford and Pierce-Arrow automobiles (each with a museum on the Gilmore campus) in addition to CCCA Full Classics®.

Exhibitors enjoyed a buffet lunch followed by the Drive-By and Awards Presentation with winners announced by David Schultz and presented by CCCA Museum President Howard Freedman.

Judging for the Experience is “Concours” style and headed by Judging Chairman Greg Kosmatka.  As judge Larry Pumphrey expressed it, “judging for this event requires a subjective observation for a perfect restoration combined with a WOW factor of a unique feature that makes a vehicle outstanding.”

After a busy weekend of showing Full Classics® at the Michigan Region Grand Classic and the CCCA Museum Experience, a hardy group gathered at the CCCA Museum early Monday morning for coffee and donuts in preparation for a chance to drive them in the third of the week’s “Trio of Grand Events”.

 

Our first day was a beautiful drive to Traverse City overlooking the Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan.  This bustling city is home to everything from beaches to wineries.  On the way, we drove through rolling farm country, rural towns and resort areas.  Our lunch stop was at The Shack Restaurant in Jugville, USA.  Don’t let the name and location prejudice your view of this rustic lake front resort with interesting antiques and good food.  From there, we continued further north to the Cherry Tree Inn & Suites overlooking the beach on the east arm of Grand Traverse Bay.  Of course, we found ice cream at Jones’ Homemade Ice Cream in Baldwin which was judged superior by our esteemed CCCA ice cream judges.  After checking into our hotel, we departed for the nearby Hagerty Collection where we were guests of Hagerty Insurance, headquartered in Traverse City, for dinner among the interesting cars in their collection.

Tuesday morning was a beautiful drive to Mackinaw City to catch our Shepler’s Ferry to Mackinac Island.  On the way, we passed through several interesting towns including Elk Rapids, Charlevoix and Petoskey.  Much of the drive was overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan.  After securely parking our Classics® at Shepler’s indoor car storage facility, we boarded for our 16 minute ferry ride to Mackinac Island with views of the spectacular Mackinac Bridge connecting Michigan’s two peninsulas.  Despite the chilly weather, the captain took us under the bridge for some spectacular views of the structure.  Arriving at the island, we entered a Victorian style setting where only bicycles and horse-drawn carriages are allowed (don’t ask about the irony for a car club to visit a place that bans cars, just enjoy it).  Motor vehicles were banned from the island at the end of the 19th century and the restriction continues today (except for emergency and some construction vehicles).   Automobile emissions are replaced with 5,800 tons of horse manure per year.

Mackinac Island is located in Lake Huron between the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan. Lying in the Straits of Mackinac that join Lakes Huron and Michigan, the 3.8-square mile island once served as home to a Native American tribe, a center for fur trading, then a military post when the British built Fort Mackinac (still available to tour on the island). It became a popular tourist destination in the late 19th century.  The 390-room Grand Hotel opened in 1887 to summer tourists. It has the world’s largest porch (660 feet) overlooking Lake Huron and the hotel’s beautiful gardens. No two guest rooms are the same, which makes one want to walk through every room to see the decor!

After getting settled in our hotels, either the historic Grand Hotel or the new Bicycle Street Inn & Suites, the afternoon was free to begin our explorations of Mackinac Island.  We gathered for cocktails and dinner at the Grand Hotel, renowned for its elegance.

 

Wednesday, was free to explore the island: walk down town, visit the fort, take a buggy ride or rent a bike for a trip around the island to work up an appetite for our dinner at the Grand Hotel.  There are 14 fudge shops on the island! So much fudge is made that more than 10 tons of butter is brought to the island every year. So popular is the island’s fudge that tourists are often referred to as “fudgies”.  To help us sort through all the fudge ‘clutter”, Kathy and Greg Kosmatka hosted a “fudge tasting” in the Grand Hotel’s Jockey Club Wednesday afternoon.  John Kruse, who is very familiar with Mackinac Island, selected samples of chocolate and peanut butter fudge from five of the island’s top fudge purveyors for our blind taste test.  With red wine to cleanse our palettes, the group selected the best in each category.   It was great fun and we thank them for organizing the event.

Thursday morning we caught the ferry back to the mainland to recover our Classics® and headed for Cross Village.  Long before the automobile industry emerged in Michigan, the state was renowned for its casting industries, including stoves.  Legs Inn, which takes its name from the cast iron stove legs fixed to the top of the building, was founded in the 1920’s by a Polish immigrant, Stanley Smolak, who began with a curio shop selling local Indian artifacts.  The restaurant has become a regional landmark offering delicious Polish dishes. Some of the group dined across the street at a very nice Italian restaurant.  We then set out on M-119, “The Tunnel of Trees”, the narrow road that runs along a spectacular bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, with especially sharp twists at Devil’s Elbow (reputed to be haunted by an evil spirit and voices after dark) and at Horseshoe Curve or Bend.  Recognized as one of the most beautiful drives in the U.S., it concludes at Harbor Springs a quaint resort town in a sheltered bay on the north shore of the Little Traverse Bay.

Upon arriving back in Traverse City, we checked into the West Bay Beach Resort recently purchased by CCCA member, Charles Mallory.  We gathered for cocktails on the beach patio before proceeding to an excellent buffet dinner with a view of the water and beautiful piano music.  It was a great conclusion to a very enjoyable week and we wish to thank Lee Barthel and Amy Jidov for organizing the tour with help from Greg & Jean Stachura, Carol Vogt, Phil Fischer, Rich Ray and Mark Iles, trouble truck driver.  Participants on the tour were Lee & Floy Barthel, Carol Bray & Tlanda McDonald, Robert & Debbie Cornman, Kayla Denny & Kerri Lind from Hagerty, Ara & Diane Ekizian, Phil & Helen Fischer, Don Ghareeb, Charles & Tolina Hennighausen, Kent & Amy Jidov, David & Linda Kane, Greg & Kathy Kosmatka, Al Kroemer, John Kruse, Charles Mallory, Jim Callahan, & Jim Stanton, Eric, Lillian & Audrey Miller, Jim & Barbara Morningstar, Bill & Barbara Parfet & Mark Iles, Larry & Carol Pumphrey, Rich & Mary Ray, Sally Sinclair & Christine Snyder, and  Carl & Vicki Zeiger.

Special thanks to Jerry Steelman, Randy McKinnis, & Dave Sandles for attending The Experience to work on Museum cars and to Kathy Kosmatka and Candace Haag for their significant help making the show run smoothly.

What an Experience! (a 2014 reflection)

Richard and Leanne Zapala reflect on the 2014 Experience.

1935 LaSalle Coupe

We couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday morning, June 1 of 2014, in Michigan.  Warmth, sun shining, light breeze.  Perfect show day for heading to Hickory Corners, MI and the Gilmore Car Museum Campus, home of this year’s annual CCCA Museum’s Grand Experience Concours and soon to be completed CLC World Dealership/Museum. This year’s featured Grand Experience theme marques were all Cadillacs and LaSalles through 1962 and all CCCA Full Classics.

With “Butter Cream,” our pale yellow with black leather interior 1935 LaSalle Convertible Coup Roadster, tucked safely in our car hauler, we set out over the back roads from Haslett. Once at the Museum grounds, in excited anticipation of the day, we backed her out and gave one last wipedown (a ritual whether she needs it or not) before taking her to the show field.

This being our first event of the year, it was exciting seeing the beautiful old automobiles we’ve become familiar with since beginning to show in 2008 and all the new old cars we were seeing for the first time. Reminds one of walking through the dark tunnel in old Tiger Stadium and seeing the bright green grass! It was also enjoyable seeing the familiar faces and friends of the owners of all these beautiful cars and catching up on stories about events they have been to, from Pebble Beach to Hilton Head. For the 2014 Experience, there were approximately nine LaSalle entrants and 35 Cadillacs.  Show cars were judged not in competition with one another but on the basis of a particular car’s own merit.

As always, Katie Robins did an extraordinary job coordinating this weekend event. The CCCA Full Classics met on Saturday and participated on Sunday as well. And, as most of you know, when you’re around Katie, she has a knack for making you feel your car is the most special one being shown. We appreciate that. We, too, feel our car is special.

The day was sunny and warm and enjoyable, despite the personal anxiety in the morning of having three judges looking over your personal possession with pens and clipboards in hand! However, it ended with a pleasant surprise. Our LaSalle had placed upon its windshield a blue ribbon for “Best in [its LaSalle] Class.” Not a bad way to begin the season, as the LaSalle competition was stiff. We were parked next to Bob Lutz’s beautiful 1934 yellow LaSalle CCP, a rare day to see both in one spot. Bob deservingly won the People’s Choice Award.  A great day for LaSalles.

With excited smiles on our face, we drove our LaSalle with top down and Leanne in the rumble seat in front of the grandstand crowd, along with the numerous other winners to collect their hard-earned awards.

As we headed back to Haslett, the LaSalle safely in tow, the beautiful day and concours event reminded us that winning a ribbon was not the goal but rather the restoration and/or exhibition of these fine classic vehicles for all generations to see. As they represent a bygone piece of significant automotive and industrial American history.

As we remind ourselves and all car enthusiasts, we are not the final owners of these beautiful and historic vehicles, we merely are their temporary caretakers for the brief time we possess and exhibit them as we did on a fine beautiful Sunday in June.

–Richard and Leanne Zapala

A Very Special “Experience” for Del & Margaret Beyer

by George Beyer

Such an offer we couldn’t refuse: an expense-paid trip for Laurie and myself to Kalmazoo, Michigan for the annual edition of the CCCA Museum “Experience”. Our only duty was to play chauffer for my parents, Del and Margaret Beyer, driving both their Lincoln Town Car and a rented golf cart to get around the grounds. This was to be a very special weekend for my parents, and we wouldn’t have missed it for anything – heck we would have paid our own way!

The main event was formally billed as “The Chrysler Experience 2013, the Concours of the Classic Car Club of America Museum”. While most activities surrounded the Experience, we were attending primarily for some ancillary activities involving the CCCA Museum and the Lincoln Museum – more on those later.

The Experience. Most CCCA members know of the annual event held at the Gilmore Museum, located in Hickory Corners, Michigan, just a bit outside of Kalamazoo. This year the focus was on Chrysler automobiles built through 1965, including Full Classics as well as legendary non-classic Chryslers like the 1930’s Airflow and legendary muscle cars of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Automotive art is also on display and offered for sale throughout the weekend. I didn’t know the Experience is a major fundraiser for OUR museum; the CCCA museum keeps the entire “gate” from the admission fee charged.

Experience events included a get acquainted Bar-B-Que on Friday night, a driving tour and gala banquet on Saturday, and the judged Concours on Sunday capped by a narrated drive-by and awards presentation in the afternoon. Wisconsin Region members attending the Experience included Ron De Woskin with his 1947 Cadillac Club Coupe, Roy Margenau and his 1926 Packard Sport Phaeton, Ray Weihoffen, Jay Quail, and Carl and Carrol Jensen.

The Gilmore Car Museum. The Gilmore has a unique concept: the museum offers partnerships to select automotive groups to construct individual museum buildings on the Gilmore campus, with the partner organizations owning and managing the buildings and their contents. The CCCA Museum was the pioneer in this venture, opening in 1987; in the last three years the Pierce-Arrow Foundation, the H. H. Franklin Car Club and the Ford Model A Foundation have opened buildings on the site. In addition, the Gilmore has expanded their own facilities, opening the Automotive Heritage Center, a 32,000 square foot exhibit building that joins a new Restoration and Education Center. My dad and I haven’t been to The Gilmore since 2006; all of this has happened since then! We spent some time each day visiting the outstanding new exhibits. If you haven’t been there lately (or ever) you won’t regret going out of your way to visit!

The CCCA Museum. As one of the earliest partner museums, the CCCA museum as originally constructed followed the original concept of the campus: relocated and restored red barns without air conditioning or plumbing to house the automobile collections. Originally a three-season destination, the museum campus has evolved into a year-round facility, and the CCCA Museum has been keeping pace. Del serves on the CCCA Museum Board of Trustees, and we joined the board on a comprehensive tour of the facility Saturday morning as the Trustees reviewed recent improvements and planned future tasks. Past improvements have provided quarry tile flooring and improved lighting throughout the exhibits and last year a fire sprinkler system was installed to protect the building and collection from catastrophe. As we toured, new electronic kiosks were being prepared for each displayed car to present short videos offering insights into its historical background, interior appointments, engine compartment views and design details – information that you don’t get looking at the outside of the vehicle.

We got a sneak preview of the latest improvement to the CCCA Museum building: an addition to provide staff restrooms and a large storage space. A dedication ceremony for the new addition was held on Sunday afternoon, with CCCA Past President Al Kroemer and museum President Howard Freedman unveiling a bronze plaque to name the wing the Delyle and Margaret Beyer Library Annex, honoring the major donors who made the expansion possible. This physical expansion has allowed the museum to develop its educational and archival mission as well. The new space has provided more room for library collections, much-needed work space for researchers, and allowed a special work station to be set up to digitize the huge collection of drawings, engineering documents and notes of Full Classic custom bodybuilders Judkins, Dietrich, Derham and designer Gordon Buehrig. After digitization, the original materials will be moved offsite to archival storage space and the digital copies will be made available to view online at the museum’s website.

The Lincoln Museum. Future marque museums slated to be built at the Gilmore are the Lincoln Museum and the Cadillac-LaSalle Museum. Ground breaking ceremonies were held on Saturday afternoon for the Lincoln Museum with Del and Margaret invited to attend in recognition of their lead gift to the Lincoln Motor Car Foundation capital campaign. The foundation is a joint venture of four Lincoln Clubs: Lincoln Owners Club, Lincoln-Zephyr Owners Club, Road Race Lincoln Register and Lincoln and Continental Owners Club. This new building will be patterned after a historic neo-classical Lincoln dealership constructed in Detroit in the early 1920’s. The 15,000 square foot facility will connect to the existing Franklin Museum and the Gilmore Steam Barn, further transforming the Gilmore into a year round attraction. Del was pleased to wield his personal engraved groundbreaking shovel presented by the Lincoln MotorCar Foundation’s John T. Eby and enjoy a pat on the back from Gilmore Museum founder Bill Parfet.

Del and Margaret were blessed to participate in the special celebrations for the CCCA Museum and the Lincoln Museum and are pleased to see these organizations carry forth their dedication preservation of automobiles, automobilia and documents from the Classic Era.