To drive from my daughter’s house near Lansing to the Gilmore Car Museum in southwestern Michigan, I take a two-lane rural highway, State Route 43. The road makes a right turn at a stoplight at the edge of downtown Hastings, a city I’d previously known only as the hometown of two-time Indianapolis 500 race-winner Gordon Johncock.
I’d driven through Hastings several times in the past few years, but last weekend things were different. As I got ready to turn right, I looked left and saw two rows of classic cars stretching beyond my sight. Above the street was a banner announcing the annual Hastings Summerfest, which combines a collector car show with a craft fair on the grounds around the Barry County courthouse square.
I completed my right turn, and eventually made it to the museum and its inaugural Emergency Vehicle Show, though I arrived a couple of hours later than I’d expected because I parked and walked past and photographed block after block after city block of classic vehicles, from hot rods and customs to classics and even a 1967 LaDawri, a sleek, fiberglass-bodied coupe built over a shortened and narrowed ’57 Chevy chassis and powered by a huge Oldsmobile V8.
Among all of the customized cars were some much more traditional classics, including a stunning 1950 Cadillac Series 62 sedan and an awesome 1948 Lincoln Continental, one of the last American cars produced with a V12 engine.
Both cars are part of Roy Daniels’ collection, which had me driving back from the Gilmore by a different route.
Daniels is the second-generation owner of Go-Go’s Auto Parts, a salvage yard his father founded in the mid-1960s. Ron also is into his third decade of car collecting and was going to build a museum when he discovered an old Ford dealership for sale near the six-corner main street intersection in downtown Galesburg, Michigan. So Daniels bought the building, is refurbishing it — with gorgeous old dealer signs on the building’s front fascia — and soon will open Go Go Classic Cars & Showroom as part-car museum, part-classic car sales center.
Just as in the restoration of classic cars, Daniels said he’s proud to “bring the old building back to life.”
Turns out the Cadillac is a three-time AACA award-winner that Daniels bought for his museum from its owner in Tucson, Arizona. But the Lincoln’s story is even more fascinating. As Daniels explained it, some three decades ago, owners of the ’48 Lincoln coupe and a ’48 Continental convertible turned up at the same car shows.
“The coupe won every time,” Daniels said, adding that suddenly the coupe disappeared from the showfields for many years.
“The convertible owner bought it and put it in storage for 25 years,” Daniels said, adding that after the man died, his family got a bill for 25 years of storage fees and sold Daniels the car, using part of the price to pay off the storage bill.
But Daniels wasn’t done with sharing his stories. He’d driven the Cadillac to the show and had Vern Schatzlmaoor drive the Lincoln. Several years ago, Daniels’ family had hosted a foreign exchange student from Germany. Schatzlmaoor teaches woodworking in Germany and knew the exchange student, and through the student met Daniels.
Schatzlmaoor now is on a 10-month motorcycle tour, riding his 2009 990 KTM Atlanta around the United States. His plan is to ride all the way to the tip of South America and sell his bike in Chile before returning to Germany.
The moral of this tale: Always look to your left before making a right turn. Otherwise, you might miss a car show and some great stories.
Photos by Larry Edsall