Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum
|Location||100 East Cross Street,
The Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum in Ypsilanti, Michigan is a unique automotive museum that is home to cars from the local Willow Run Plant and cars from Hudson Motors. The collection includes the original Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a Tucker automobile movie prop from the movie Tucker: The Man and His Dream. The prop is a feature of a Preston Tucker display. Preston Tucker was from Ypsilanti and did his engineering work a couple of blocks from the museum.
The museum is an official site of the MotorCities National Heritage Area, which is "dedicated to preserving, interpreting and promoting the automotive and labor heritage of the State of Michigan."
In 1916, Joseph H. Thompson opened a Dodge dealership, possibly the first outside Detroit, in the north end of the Thompson Block. Soon after, Thompson moved his dealership across Cross Street, to the site of the museum.
In 1927, Carl Miller opened a Hudson Sales and Service franchise on the site, and in 1955 the dealership was renamed Miller Motors, reflecting expanded product offerings. From 1927 until the Hudson Motor Car Company closed in 1955, after merging with Nash-Kelvinator and forming American Motors Corporation, the dealership sold 1,969 new cars, and has retained and preserved all dealership records since opening. For about 20 years, Miller Motors continued as a used car and parts dealer specializing in Hudsons and Hudson parts. Before Miller Motors was bought and included as a feature of the museum, Miller Motors was "the place to go when [Hudson owners] needed clutch oil or touch-up paint, or wanted to buy or sell a Hudson." Retired Museum Curator Jack Miller is known as an authority on restoring Hudson cars and the history of Hudson cars.
In the mid-1990s, Jack Miller, Paul "Skip" Ungrodt Jr, and Peter B. Fletcher opened the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum that included the Miller Motors building. The museum considers the "crown jewel" of their collection to be the 1952 Hudson Hornet, known as the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, owned by Herb Thomas when he won his second NASCAR Championship in 1953. All together, the museum is home to 30 cars, ranging from a 1933 Hudson Terraplane K Series Coach to a 1991 Chevrolet Caprice police car, manufactured at the nearby Willow Run Assembly Plant. In addition to the cars, the museum collection includes "advertising, service, repair, and promotional items that were essential to the automobile business" of the second quarter of the twentieth century. The museum is open to visitors six days a week (closed Mondays), year-round, and sponsors Cruise Nights during the summer in Depot Town and their annual Orphan Car Show held in nearby Riverside Park.
The museum is located on the southeast corner of East Cross Street and River Street, at the east end of Ypsilanti, Michigan's Depot Town district. Parking for the museum is immediately south of the building on River street. To the west, across River Street, is the Sidetrack Bar & Grill, a favorite place for museum visitors to dine.
The "Fabulous Hudson Hornet"
- Museums and Historic Homes, MotorCities National Heritage Area, retrieved 2011-05-13
- MotorCities National Heritage Area, MotorCities National Heritage Area, retrieved 2011-05-13
- Mann, James (Winter 2009), "The Thompson Block - Then and Now!", Ypsilanti Gleanings (Ypsilanti Historical Society), retrieved 2011-05-13
- Mann, James (2009-09-24), "The Thompson Block's place in Ypsilanti's history", AnnArbor.com (Advance Publications, Inc.), retrieved 2011-05-13,
In 1916, Joseph H. Thompson, grandson of Oliver, opened a Dodge dealership in the north end of the building. He operated here only a short time, before moving across the street to where Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum is today.
- Blumberg, George (2003-04-11), "DRIVING; Hudsons Survive. The Dealer Does, Too.", The New York Times, retrieved 2011-05-13
- Learn more, Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, retrieved 2011-05-13
- "In Michigan, Homage to the Auto’s Heritage", The New York Times, 2010-07-16, retrieved 2011-05-13
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