Tag Archives: Cadillac

Visit the Gilmore Car Museum

On a trip to the Gilmore Car Museum, and I was reminded that it has to be one of the top car museums in the country. Over the years, the Gilmore has grown from a car collection displayed in a number of huge barns to a 14-building campus exhibiting cars from the early 1900s through the 1960s.

Exhibits and collections include:
• Classic Car Club of America Museum
• Pierce-Arrow Museum
• Franklin Collection
• Cadillac-LaSalle Club Museum
• Model A Ford Museum
• Lincoln Motorcar Museum
• Tucker Historical Collection
• Checker Motors Archive

You experience our automotive heritage In addition to the cars themselves by visiting:
• 1930’s Shell Gas Station
• 1941 George & Sally’s Blue Moon Diner
• One of North America’s largest hood ornament and mascot collections
• 1967 Disney movie magic from “The Gnome-Mobile”
• Kalamazoo – The Other Motor City

1929 Duesenberg-2
1929 Duesenberg dual cowl phaeton

Your experience starts in the Gilmore Heritage Center, which includes six galleries beginning with a model of Ford Motor Company’s Highland Park assembly line and then moves to cars built by Auburn, Duesenberg, Packard, and Rolls-Royce, plus others. Another gallery shows Chevrolet Corvettes, Shelby Cobras, and Hostetler’s Hudson Collection. The 1900’s & 1910’s gallery features examples from a 1903 “Curved Dash” Oldsmobile, a range of Ford Model T’s, an original-unrestored 1912 Cadillac showing 1380 miles. The 1950’s to 1960’s gallery included a 1957 Chevrolet convertible, a 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, and a 1963 Studebaker Avanti, and the Franklin Collection highlights America’s premier air-cooled car.

The Model A Ford Museum is a recreation of a 1929 Ford dealership complete with vintage gas pumps, a service bay, and a parts department sharing the story of the iconic Model A. It was interesting to see that Indianapolis had one of the 35 branch assembly plants during this era. I especially enjoyed the cut-away engine and chassis display.

The 1897 Campania barn features autos from the 1930’s and 1940’s, including a 1934 Chrysler Airflow, a 1936 Lincoln-Zephyr, a 1937 Studebaker Coupe Express truck, a 1940 Lincoln Continental, and a 1946 Stout Scarab. The Cadillac-LaSalle Collection features cars from the 1910’s through the 1960’s.

1934 Auburn
1934 Auburn

The Pierce-Arrow Museum gives an overview of the namesake’s automobiles between 1901 and 1938. Some paint is flaking off the unrestored 1931 Model 41 Limousine. That is not necessarily bad, because it gives us a view of aluminum body construction of the era.

The hood ornament and mascot collections are housed in two buildings. This has to be one of the most comprehensive collections around. The Classic Car Club of America Museum highlights cars of the classic era, including Indiana-built offerings Auburn, Cord, Studebaker, Stutz and Marmon.

At the 1930’s Shell gas station a service attendant was explaining a “full-service” gasoline stop on a 1931 DeSoto four-door sedan to a group of school children. This was a blast from the past. I believe the pedal car collection had an example of most every pedal car offered.

We stopped at the restored George & Sally’s Blue Moon Diner for lunch and an afternoon snack. I had a Coney dog for lunch and blueberry pie for my snack. It was like stepping back to that era of unhurried travel food across America.

1957 Chevrolet
1957 Chevrolet

I heartedly recommend visiting the Gilmore Car Museum to celebrate our car culture. Check it out for part of a day or spend a longer time for a total automotive heritage experience. Every time you visit, it is new.

For more information on Indiana cars & companies follow this link.

Electric starting and lighting debuted 104 years ago on the 1912 Cadillac.

With all of the electronic automotive conveniences we have today, it’s hard to believe that electric starting and lighting debuted 104 years ago on the 1912 Cadillac. In those days, the ritual of starting an automobile required patience, finesse, strength, and agility.

1912 Cadillac 4-door Touring
1912 Cadillac 4-door Touring
Copyright ©1912 Cadillac Division

Let me describe the process. First, check that the transmission is in neutral. Second, make sure the ignition is off. Third, retard the spark lever on the right-hand side of the steering wheel and advance the throttle lever on the left-hand side of the steering wheel to an extent known only after experience. Fourth, move to the front of the auto and prime the engine by cranking two half-turns from the 6 to 12 o’clock positions. Fifth, go back and turn the ignition on. Sixth, properly grasp the crank with the thumb overlapping the first fingers to prevent an injury from back-firing and crank the engine one or two turns. If your luck is good, the engine starts. Lastly, quickly spring to the controls, advance the spark and retard the throttle before the engine dies. Whew, I’m tired already.

Even though this routine might be carefully followed, the hazard remains of the engine back-firing with the consequent backward kick of the crank causing injury.

Here’s an example. On a December day in 1910, a lone woman drove through Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Michigan. She took an incline too slowly and stalled the engine. Byron T. Carter of the Carter Car Co. stopped to help by cranking the motor for her. Not realizing that the spark had not been retarded, he turned the crank and the engine back-fired. Lashing back, the crank broke his arm and smashed his face and jaw. Although Mr. Carter’s broken jaw and arm did not seem to be serious, he died within a few weeks from complications caused by pneumonia.

Upon hearing of this incident, Henry M. Leland, general manager of the Cadillac Division of General Motors Corporation, felt that no other automotive improvement was more urgent than a mechanical starter. He proclaimed to his engineering staff. “The Cadillac car will kill no more men if we can help it. Lay all the other projects aside. We are going to develop a fool-proof device for starting Cadillac motors.”

Cadillac engineers worked with fury to design a suitable system for their car, but were unable to devise a starter motor small enough to fit under the hood of their car. Then, Earl C. Howard, Cadillac assistant sales-manager, recalled Charles F. Kettering of Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company, later known as Delco. Kettering had previously designed a high-torque motor with an over-running clutch for cash registers.

Kettering was summoned to Detroit to review Cadillac engineering developments. He then returned to Dayton, Ohio, to develop a suitable starter motor and clutch. Cadillac engineers and Kettering assembled back in Detroit on February 27, 1911, when their systems were installed. The ignition switch was thrown, and the engine throbbed instantly to life.

Perfecting the system took more experimentation and testing. Formal announcement of the 1912 Cadillac with the new electric starting and lighting system was August 20, 1911. Contractually Cadillac had exclusive right to the system for one year. In 1913, Cole, Hudson, Jackson, Oakland, Oldsmobile, and Packard all used the system. Other manufacturers quickly followed.

So, the next time you instantly start your car with automatic lighting systems, your might think back to the days before the innovation of electric starting and lighting on the 1912 Cadillac. Happy motoring.