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 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.

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.