The Gilmore Car Museum prepares for a busy summer and plans muscle car expansion

HICKORY CORNERS — Denny and Ellen Buursma lined up outside an authentic 1941 restaurant before being handed a pair of soft serve ice cream cones.

The Yankee Springs couple were enjoying a Wednesday night cruise to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, where they parked their 1976 Camaro among rows of classic and exotic cars. The free weekly event drew hundreds of automotive enthusiasts to the scenic 90-acre campus.

“I’ve had (the Camaro) since 1979,” Denny said. “We had our first date and we’re still together.”

The free weekly cruise is one of many events and programs planned by the nonprofit at 6865 Hickory Road in rural Barry County, about 18 miles west of Battle Creek. The campus includes six partner museums, with over 400 vehicles and over 190,000 square feet of exhibit space. It is open to the public 361 days a year.

“The warmer weather is finally here. It’s definitely the start of our busy season of car shows, concerts and events,” said Josh Russell, executive director of the Gilmore Car Museum. “It’s a world-class museum; one of the finest car museums in the world, right here in our backyard. Events like these expose people to all that happens at the Gilmore Car Museum…It attracts people who may not have been here before or didn’t know about the collection, visit the museum, check out our programs and ride the classics.”

Ride the Classics is a program offered to museum visitors via donation, where they ride in vintage vehicles through campus. It is offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from May to September.

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‘Ride the Classics’ at the Gilmore Car Museum

Starting 2019: The Gilmore Car Museum is offering free rides around a 36-hectare campus in vintage vehicles.

Nick Buckley, Battle Creek Investigator

The museum’s event season kicked off May 7 with a Mustang and Ford show, and continues Saturday with a triple program featuring a vintage travel trailer rally, a vintage watercraft show, and a cork and craft tasting.

In addition to having live music at special events such as Wednesday night cruises, the Gilmore Car Museum will host “$40 drive-in” concerts this summer, featuring a number of tribute bands.

The June 25 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals “Muscle Car Meetup” will feature music from tribute band Led Zeppelin 2. The event will essentially accelerate fundraising efforts to bring a muscle car museum into the “line of concession” of the property, after plans to open a Gilmore Muscle Car Museum were announced in 2019 before the pandemic forced the association to put the project on hold.

“We had to do what we needed to do to help the museum run as it was, and fundraising was difficult in the midst of a global pandemic,” Russell said. “We’ve had some awesome donations, pledges and pledges, but we still have more than halfway to go before we finish fundraising before we dig the ground.”

Russell added that the muscle car meet in June will serve as a counterpoint to the annual Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals event to be held in Chicago in November. Proceeds from the event will go to the Muscle Car Museum Fund.

“(The MCACN) wants every dollar raised in terms of show car registrations into the muscle car museum building fund,” Russell said. “Because they want to see this built here at Hickory Corners on the Gilmore campus and be a central part of campus forever.”

For more information, visit gilmorecarmuseum.org or call 269-671-5089.

Reporter Nick Buckley can be reached at [email protected] or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter: @NickJBuckley

GILMORE CAR MUSEUM

Events to come

• May 14: Vintage travel trailer rally; Boats at the barns; Tasting of corks and crafts

• May 21: All GM Super Shows

• June 5: Complete classic car show

• June 11-12: Vintage Motorcycle Weekend

• June 18: Volvos at Gilmore; Air cooled rally

• June 25: MCACN Muscle Car Meet Up

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