Occasionally someone asks about my recommendations for auto museums in Indiana. Northern Indiana has some great car culture destinations.
Auburn Indiana probably has the best concentration of auto museums of anywhere outside of Michigan. The best known and one of the best car museums in the country is the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. The ACDAM is the only auto museum occupying an original factory showroom and administration building. The art-deco structure was built in 1930 for the Auburn Automobile Company and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum dedicates a large portion to Indiana-built automobiles from the 1890s through 1960s. Other highlights are the Cadillac, Packard, Rolls Royce and race cars among this 100-plus automobile collection.
Immediately behind the ACDAM are the buildings now housing the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States. This site once contained the production of the L-29 Cord as well as the service facility for the Auburn Automobile Company. NATMUS features trucks and other vehicles from 1907 to the present.
Just off the I-69 Auburn exit is the Kruse Foundation complex. Two buildings at this site are of interest to auto aficionados. The Kruse Automotive and Carriage Museum and the Early Ford V8 Foundation Museum. The KACM features a collection of classic cars, television and movie cars, hot rods, and antique carriages. The Early Ford V8 Museum focuses on Fords from 1932 to 1953, as well as other vehicles powered by Ford flathead V8 engines.
North of Auburn on I-69 and west on US 20 in Shipshewana is Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum. Over 25 years ago, what started with a single vehicle, has grown to include the largest collection of Hudson automobiles and trucks in the world. Today, the collection includes the Hudson, Essex, Terraplane, Railton, and Dover brands.
Further west on US 20 in South Bend is the Studebaker National Museum. The SNM covers 114 years of its namesake’s history. “Studebaker is the only company to span the time from settlers’ wagons to high performance automobiles,” according to museum material. The museum has the Studebaker family’s own Conestoga wagon, used to move them to South Bend, and an Avanti, the last car made in South Bend. The carriage that Abraham Lincoln rode to Ford Theater on the night of his assassination is also on display.
Finally, travel west on IN 2 to LaPorte to see the LaPorte County Museum. The museum houses the Dr. Peter C. Kesling Automobile Collection, numbering over 30 vehicles. The collection includes vehicles built by Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Baker Electric, Ford, Tucker, and Dodge. In 2003, Dr. and Mrs. Kesling drove the collection’s Winton from California to New York City, retracing the path of the first coast to coast auto journey by Dr. Horatio Jackson in 1903 in a similar Winton touring car.
I believe northern Indiana is your best bet for an auto enthusiast’s total immersion into car culture. Where else in about 120 miles can you see seven auto museums? Do it in one trip or break-up the enjoyment in to multiple adventures. Be sure to call any of these sites before you finalize a visit. Check out my Indiana Museums page @http://cruise-in.com/museums/