Photos by Steve Purdy
The new Cadillac–LaSalle Club Museum and Research Center opened this past weekend on the expansive grounds of the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, a pristine rural setting about 20 miles north of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The beautiful 10,000 square-foot building is modeled after a 1948 Cadillac dealership and sits among other marque-specific museums (Lincoln, Pierce Arrow, Model A Ford, Franklin) and the official collection of the Classic Car Club of America.
The Gilmore grounds filled early on this sunny fall Sunday with more than 300 Cadillacs and a few LaSalles of all eras. Specialty vehicles such as ambulances, funeral cars and limousines were among the fascinating old cars on display. A few newer Cadillacs joined the show as well including the ELR (extended range electric) brought by this reporter.
Dedication ceremonies for the new museum included the traditional cutting of the ribbon and talks by dignitaries, including John Grettenberger, who led the Cadillac Division of GM for 13 years. Other VIPs who attended included GM retired product Tsar Bob Lutz, Cadillac designer Wayne Cady, former GM VP of design Wayne Cherry and host Paul Ayers, who honchoed the whole museum project.
Stories of Cadillac and LaSalle history fill the museum beginning with a red 1903 Runabout in the front showroom. The newest vehicle (on temporary display) is the dramatic Elmiraj concept car introduced at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance last year and the car expected to provide the design queues for the upcoming flagship sedan by Cadillac. The famous 1000-hp “Sixteen” show car from 2003 is also on display.
In the museum, more than two-dozen cars tell the stories of Cadillac and its companion brand LaSalle.
Dioramas and other colorful displays flesh out the stories featuring the engines, the people, the events and the culture that surround the brand once known as “The Standard of the World.” On special display is one of the first cars to be included in the National Historic Vehicle Registry, a 1918 Cadillac Type 57 with an amazing WWI story.
The entire museum complex at the Gilmore is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from until 6 p.m. The museum is closed Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for students and free for active duty military and children under 6. Group rates are available.