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.