While one Donald struggles to get a grip on his new job, Robbert Moree discovers the merits of a namesake. CineCars continues to linger on the tracks of an infamous past.
Donald S Gilmore was the CEO for the American drugstore chain Upjohn. A family business spread across the entire United States. Upjohn even had a store on Main Street USA, Disneyland, something no second outsider ever managed to achieve. When Donald S Gilmore retired in 1963, his wife Genevieve had the foresight to arrange him a hobby. Allegedly see saw what was coming and to prevent the buzzy businessman to get lost in the black hole of retirement she gave him a 1920 Pierce Arrow as a retirement gift. Needing a little TLC, what else.
Mister Gilmore had never expressed much interest in automobiles, but as thinks go with successful businessmen, he only knew the go-ahead approach to encounter on his new hobby. Once he got started on the restoration of the Pierce Arrow it didn’t take long before additional projects came along. A giant tent arose in the garde, to harbour all the projects. A 90 acres piece of land was acquired in Kalamazoo, Michigan and the collection kept expanding at an incredible pace. Again Mrs. Gilmore was the one that looked ahead and insisted her husband should expose his ever growing collection. Donald only needed a word to see things at large. He bought a number of authentic barns and dealerships and had them rebuilt on his land. They even added a complete 1941 diner.
When we approach on the east bound dirt road I’m in for a big surprise. The Gilmore Museums top five listing of American museums clearly wasn’t stolen. Last nights lightning filled thunderstorm makes for another, less pleasant surprise: No electricity! Taking pictures without any light is like painting with no paint, and although it is quite special to roam around in the dark with the other die hard visitors, taking pictures remains impossible. I limit myself to some very enjoyable conversations with the memories this automotive candy store brings back for some of the American visitors. Like John and Susan who drool over exactly the same Hudson dad used to drive. It takes the electrician until three in the afternoon to bring some light into the darkness, awakening the photographer inside of me.
It’s impossible to show all the vehicles. Not in pictures and not at all by describing them. Let’s stick to a few highlights. What about a 1916 Packard Twin-Six Racer found in Paraguay in 1990? The car won the 1920 Argentinian ‘Championship of the Mile’ and competed successfully in races throughout South-America for the next ten years. Also there is a Tucker ’48 Sedan < The Car of Tomorrow – Here Today! > Propelled by a rear mounted helicopter engine, the Tucker was far ahead of its time. The public wasn’t ready for it, although there are plenty of rumours about sabotage by the established car manufacturers.A second very innovative automobile is the 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car. The Chrysler Corporation was the most active in this area. Less rotating parts, cheaper in maintenance and ready for multifuel action. Again, the public wasn’t ready for it. My personal favourite still is the Lincoln Continental, but that might be because of the appearance of that particular car in the books I read in my youth. Let’s not forget the incredible Cord Supercharged and the Hudson Hornet from the Cars movie my youngest son would have loved to drive home.
Donald S Gilmore is an example of the go-ahead approach, but I think we can clearly state that without Mrs. Genevieve Gilmore we would have never seen a Gilmore auto museum. The establisment of the Gilmore collection drafted some different collections to this rural location in Michigan. Today you’ll find the Pierce Arrow museum, the H.H. Franklin museum, the A-Ford museum, the Cadillac-LaSalle museum and the Lincoln Car Heritage museum. Even the Classic Car Club of America is housed here. The Gilmore Museum really is recommended for all ages. Take your time, you’ll need at least one day!