Site seeing: Michigan marks Year of the Car

  • Friday, June 27, 2008 11:12pm
  • Life

The price of gasoline may be climbing, but that’s no reason to completely turn your back on four-wheel transportation when you plan your next vacation.

Michigan is celebrating the Year of the Car, observing a century of automobile history since Henry Ford’s introduction of the Model T and William Durant’s formation of General Motors. This Web site, part of Michigan’s official travel and tourism presentation, provides links to car shows, car museums and car collections to see all over the place.

Under “Museums and Collections,” click on “The Henry Ford” for the complex that includes the Henry Ford Museum exhibits of cars, aviation and presidential limousines; the Greenfield Village collection of historic buildings and exhibits and the Rouge Factory tour. Glance at the calendar; they even present “historic” baseball games on summer weekends.

It’s not usually open to the public, but GM’s Heritage Center gives you an online glimpse of its collections and archives. But at the bottom of the “Museums …” page, you’ll find connections to the Alfred P. Sloan Museum, named for the GM president and chief executive in the 1930s, which has a collection of cars built in Flint; the R.E. Olds museum with a collection of four-wheel beauties in Lansing and the Detroit Historical Society, home of the Motor City Exhibition and more.

When you’re picking dates for your trip, take a minute to look through “Car Shows and Cruises;” there’s a big GM 100th Anniversary Parade on July 20 in Flint, an Old Car Festival from Sept. 6-7 at The Henry Ford, and the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix from Aug. 29-31.

And that’s just a few of the events.

While you’re on the Web site for the GM 100th Anniversary Parade, click on “Home” in the upper left corner to find out what else is coming in the city where Buick and Flint got started.

For help finding places to stay and other things to see and do in Detroit, Lansing, Flint and other cities in the area, go back to the Year of the Car Web page and choose your base of operations under “Featured Destinations.” And you can broaden your horizons by going to the top left corner of the page and clicking on “Home” to gather travel inspiration for other parts of Michigan.

Another helpful source of ideas is the MotorCities National Heritage Area, especially its “Take a Tour” section, with a collection of self-guided driving tours under the “Centennial Celebrations” heading. There’s also a slick interactive map, but you’ll need to wait a bit for the map to open up and display its “Explore Our Region” link, and you should also read the user’s guide.

As long as you’re in the area, and if you don’t mind buying some extra gasoline, head south a short distance for a couple of other shrines to the American automobile.

Go west out of Detroit on Interstate 94 and south on I-69 to the home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the museum has huge collection of racing and passenger cars.

About midway on that I-94-69 route, stop in Auburn, Ind., to visit the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, a National Historic Landmark that houses some of the rarest classic American cars.

Roger Petterson, Associated Press

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