Photos by Larry Edsall
Interesting geographic oddity: Canada may be America’s neighbor to the north, unless you live in or near Detroit. From the Motor City, you have to go south, not north, to reach Windsor, gateway to Ontario, which means crossing the Detroit River by boat, bridge or tunnel.
Once in Windsor, you can steer your way to the on-ramp to the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway, aka King’s Highway 401. Drive around 80 miles and you reach the point where Canada’s version of our Interstate highway travels beneath Communication Road, the two-lane that connects the towns of Chatham and Blenheim.
Auto history footnote: Chatham was the birthplace of Hank Chrysler, whose son, Walter P., started a car company that carried the family name. Chatham also is where Gray-Dort Motors produced sporty sedans from 1915-1925.
Oh, and Chatham also is the hometown of Rob Myers, whose initials are the R and M in RM Auctions, which has its headquarters in a group of buildings just south-east of the intersection of the 401 and Communications Road.
One of those buildings houses the RM Museum, or perhaps more accurately the RM Classic Car Exhibit, because the 37,000-square-foot facility is part museum, and part storage facility for cars awaiting restoration or heading to one of RM’s upcoming auctions.
Don’t expect to see placards with extensive descriptions of the vehicles or to see vehicles parked in diorama-style displays. But do expect to see some amazing vehicles.
For example, on our recent visit the museum/exhibit included not only Fred Flintstone’s vehicle from the movie (it looks just like the one from the classic cartoon, but is actually a foam-bodied golf cart), but:
an alloy-bodied Ferrari 275 GTB, one of several cars stored here while awaiting shipment to the RM Auction at Monterey,
- a Maserati 250S,
- a naked Mercedes-Benz 300SL chassis awaiting its reunion with its gullwinged-body, which is just finishing its restoration in the RM Restoration shop that’s just across the parking lot,
- a Ferrari 275 GTS whose original owner added a trailer hitch so he could tow his boat,
- a rare Waterhouse-bodied 1930s Chrysler that will be the featured vehicle at RM’s Motor City sale,
- a long-wheelbase Ferrari California Spyder
- a Bentley Continental R awaiting auction after 53 years of single ownership,
- the world’s only Ferrari Lusso customized by designer Tom Meade,
- and much more, including a bus and an assortment of vintage motorcycles.
The museum is run in conjunction with the Chatham-Kent Tourism information center. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 4:30 p.m. Admission is $8.50 (Canadian) for adults, $6.50 for students and seniors, and free for those age 12 or younger. There is a discount for groups of 10 or more.