Here are my thoughts on what should be on the Indiana Automotive Heritage Corridor tour. First up would be Auburn with the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, the National Automobile and Truck Museum of the United States, and the Early Ford V-8 Foundation & Museum. Next would be the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Just up the road a little bit is the Kokomo Automotive Museum. The corridor would finish up at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend. The last two stops on the tour give the visitor a glimpse of the start and end of Indiana’s first generation auto manufacturers.
The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum 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. MSNBC has named the museum one of the “Top Ten Gearhead Destinations in the United States.”
I always enjoy finding new treasures during my visits to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. Everyone I recommend it to agree with my accolades for this Indiana automotive gem. You should be sure to visit ACDAM on any trip to Indiana.
The next door north of the ACDAM is the National Automobile and Truck Museum of the United States in the original Auburn Automobile Company service building and experimental building. NATMUS displays outstanding examples of postwar cars and trucks ranging from 1907 to modern concepts.
The newest addition to the Auburn automotive scene is the Early Ford V-8 Foundation & Museum just west of the south I-69 interchange. The museum highlights the flathead V-8 era of Ford history with engines, transmissions, a dashboard collection, showroom banners, and “cut-a-way” models. The museum has enough fantastic Ford items to keep you exploring for some time.
Next it’s time to head south on I-69 and then west on I-465 to Crawfordsville Road and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. The HOFM is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Race days are celebrated 363 days a year at the museum. The museum features history-making racecars going back to Louis Chevrolet’s 1909 Cobe Cup winning car, all the way up to today’s 200-mph record breakers. Museum special collections include an original garage area façade, the trophy collection, and other rotating exhibits. The museum is inside the famed oval, so make sure you visit the Louis Chevrolet Memorial just west of the museum entrance. Then take a tour around the track (when available).
Back on the road again, go north from Indianapolis on U.S. 31 to the Kokomo Automotive Museum. The museum celebrates the “City of Firsts” being home to Elwood Haynes, who built one of America’s first gasoline-powered automobiles in 1894. In addition to antique autos, KAM displays include a recreation of an early auto machine shop, vintage advertising, and a 1950’s era diner and service station diorama.
We’ll finish up our trip on the corridor further north at the Studebaker National Museum at 201 S. Chapin Street, in South Bend. The museum honors one of America’s most esteemed independent automobile manufacturers. SNM traces Studebaker’s transportation heritage from 1852 through 1966. Seventy vehicles in the collection are displayed at any time ranging from presidential carriages and bullet-nose beauties to experimental cars. The SNM archives across the street provide a wealth of historical information for Studebaker, Packard, and several local businesses.
This tour on my proposed Indiana Automotive Heritage Corridor provides a look at Indiana’s rich car culture that continues today. I hope to see you somewhere along the corridor.
For more information on Indiana auto museums follow this link.