I must say congratulations to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production show. This show is open now thru March 26, 2017. If you are a historic car-buff, you must see this show.
The museum does a great job presenting this show in honor of Indiana’s Bicentennial celebrating Hoosier automotive production. In partnership with private owners and other automotive museums around the state, more than 35 historic Indiana-built cars like Auburn, Cord, Cole, Duesenberg, Haynes, Marmon, Premier, Studebaker, Stutz, and Waverley are in the exhibit. The galleries are staged as Indianapolis-built cars, Indiana-built cars, and Indiana race cars.
Over 40 Indiana cities and towns can claim some sort of connection to early automotive history. Approximately 400 firms – large and small – operated statewide between 1894 and 1963.
Many started as carriage builders in the 1800s, several experimenting, by the turn of the 20th century, with internal combustion engines. Many self-trained engineers created one-off “horseless carriage” prototypes in their own shops. The more successful eventually built factories and produced, in quantity, automobiles for sale to the public.
Providing a proving ground and testing facility for the early automotive industry was the impetus of building of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Not only would the track be available to companies for private testing, but the staging of occasional automobile races would give the firms an opportunity to demonstrate the worth of their products in competition, while the public observed from the grandstands. Companies like Cord, Duesenberg, Marmon, and Stutz continued to use the track to privately test and develop the vehicles they were selling to the public.
The Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit tells this story well. The display presents some cars that you might be aware of. One that I especially recall is the 1920 Monroe Model S Touring car produced in Indianapolis by the William Small Company. Gaston Chevrolet won the 1920 Indianapolis 500-mile race in a Monroe designed by his brother Louis and sponsored by William Small.
I encourage you to visit the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit to experience Indiana’s automotive legacy.
For more information on our automotive heritage, follow this link.