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Ypsilanti museum is a Detroit Gem

July 08 2013 | no comments

On a corner in the heart of Ypsilanti, things look pretty much the same as they did in 1932.  That’s when this Hudson dealership opened.   New cars were sold here until Hudson went out of business in 1957.

At that time the son of the owner went into business selling used Hudsons and Hudson parts.

 

 

In the mid 90’s, the owner and two friends realized this was an important piece of history and they turned the old dealership into the Ypsilanti automotive heritage museum.

The original building houses a 1933 Hudson Terraplane – a smaller, all-steel sedan that was the economy model of the Hudson’s line.

There’s the sales area, complete with roll top desk and a parts counter with a few original items.

In the service area, there are racks of tires for a number of models, and a service area where the vehicles are kept in running condition.

Museum board member, Bill Nickels told us, “We couldn’t keep in business if we didn’t have Sid Stone and Cecil Rollins and other volunteers who work without pay but appreciate the museum and contribute time.”

Keeping these 70 and 80 year old cars running is a labor of love for Cecil and Sid .

Cecil says, “I’m a guy from back in the day and I prefer the old cars to the new ones, I’ll tell you that right now.”

Sid agrees, “The people who are going to be restoring the new cars 50 years from now are going to have a whole lot more trouble than what we have here.”

While the old dealership was the start of the museum… it quickly grew beyond the original building.

In 1996 a second building was acquired a couple doors down the street and eventually three buildings were connected to make up the museum

The second building is devoted to Kaiser Frazer automobiles which were made in the Ypsilanti plant where B-24 bombers were built during World War II.

And that room is shared with the Preston Tucker story because Preston Tucker was an Ypsilanti kid and lived right around the corner from here.

There is a fiberglass model of the revolutionary Tucker automobile that was used in the movie “Tucker”.  It’s one of the favorites of visitors.

But there are many other cars that are truly special.

One of the most interesting cars is Herb Thomas’ Hudson Hornet that competed on NASCAR tracks in the early 1950’s. Herb Thomas was a couple time NASCAR champion.

And this Corvair held the Bonneville Salt Flats land record for production cars.

There are also bicycles, and an example of every Hydramatic transmission every built.

On the day we visited, a parade of special cars visited the museum.  It was a stop for about 50 members of the national Winged Warrior Daytona Superbird club.  For classic car owners this place is truly a gem–and a reason to visit metro Detroit.

Jim Klovis came from Pueblo, Colorado “I’m glad somebody keeps this alive and going, that’s the main thing.  So my little 8 year old grandson can come and look and say, this was a real car, this is what they made back then.”

Bill Nickels told us,  “The one word I hear so often is “wow” this is amazing.”

It’s a piece of history, a part of Ypsilanti and a Detroit gem.

 

 

 

 

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