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Classics 101: An Introduction to Classic Cars
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CCCA Museum – a Great Place to See the Classics

CCCA Museum

I just returned from the Classic Car Club of America Museum's annual ''Experience,'' held on the campus of the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, the site of the CCCA Museum.

Each year's Experience has a different theme. This year's theme was ''Closed Cars,'' which afforded an interesting cross-section of automobiles from the Classic Era. The event was open to the public, and both CCCA members and non-CCCA members displayed their Classics.

This year, in addition to the annual Experience, which was held on Sunday, June 6, the CCCA held a Grand Classic on Saturday. Although cars may be displayed for exhibition only, most cars are judged in a variety of classes. (These Grand Classics are the precursors to the many concours events that are now held throughout the U.S.)

For me, a highlight of the weekend events is the tour, normally 75 to 90 miles long, through the beautiful rural Michigan countryside. For enthusiasts like me, who would rather drive Classics than show them, this is great fun. This year's tour included a stop at a restored 1860s mill and lunch at the Kellogg mansion on Gull Lake.
Sunday's show field contained a very diverse grouping of Classic body styles. Among the closed Classics on display were a rarely seen 1926 Wills Sainte Claire club sedan and a 1924 Packard Fleetwood-bodied town car from Minnesota. Traveling even farther was a 1934 Packard Twelve town car with coachwork by Rollston--it came all the way from Colorado.

It was interesting to see side-by-side two Classic Lincoln KB custom-bodied coupes – a Judkins and a Dietrich. There were several one-off automobiles, including a sleek 1940 Cadillac 60 Special Fleetwood sedan built for GM executive Lawrence Fisher, former president of Cadillac.

The CCCA Museum is unique since it is the only automobile museum devoted solely to Classic automobiles, as defined by the Classic Car Club of America. Classic automobiles are on display at numerous automobile museums throughout the United States, but only the CCCA Museum is solely focused on Full Classics. The museum contains two main buildings: the Thomas W. Barrett III Barn, which houses the John and Dora McMullen Gallery, the Bob and Sonny Turnquist Gallery and the Katie Robbins Gallery; and the Erle Heath Barn, which contains the Richard and Linda Kughn Gallery.

In addition to its displays, the CCCA complex also features an extensive library and research center connected to the museum. The original Noel Thompson Library contains a broad collection of books and magazines devoted to Classic automobiles, while the new Bill and Aneice Lassiter addition contains the late Beverly Rae Kimes's automotive library – it even has her desk. Beverly was CCCA publications editor for more than 25 years.

A number of automobiles have been donated to the CCCA Museum over the years, but perhaps the most spectacular gift to date is a collection of 700 automobile mascots assembled by longtime CCCA member Marv Tamaroff.

Since the museum's founding in the mid-1980s, two volunteers have been instrumental to its success--Katie Robbins, the museum's secretary, and Dale Wells, who has served as librarian.

The Gilmore Car Museum campus is well on its way to becoming a true destination for vintage car buffs. In addition to its own museum and library and the CCCA Museum and Library, the Gilmore campus also contains the Pierce-Arrow Museum, the Tucker Archives and the new H. H. Franklin Museum. Also planned for the Gilmore campus are the Cadillac-LaSalle Museum, the Model A Ford Museum and the Lincoln Motor Car Museum.

A tip of the hat goes to Gilmore Car Museum director Michael Spezia and Bill Parfet, president of the Gilmore Car Museum board of directors.

This article originally appeared in the September, 2010 issue of Hemmings Classic Car.

Click here for more information on the CCCA Museum.

Click here for more recaps and photo galleries of past CCCA Museum 'Experience" events.