Gilmore Museum Annual Speaker Series

Museum’s 5th annual Speaker Series Highlights Variety of Topics

Did you know that Henry Ford had experimented with what many consider an “oddball” X-8 engine layout to replace the simple 4-cylinder Model T? Or that Walt Disney had a connection to Kalamazoo and the early development of the Gilmore Car Museum? Have you ever heard or even experienced some of the surprising yet true tales surrounding the muscle cars of the 1960s and 70s?

During the 2018 Lecture Series at the Gilmore Car Museum, you’ll discover fascinating stories and little-known facts from each of these and more. The sixteen-week series is open to the public and covers a variety of intriguing topics.

“We have brought together a fine group of historians, scholars, and authors—all experts in their respective fields,” explains Fred Colgren, Education Director at the Museum. “There’s certain to be something of interest for everyone.”

Each of the Sunday afternoon presentations begin at 3 pm and are only $5 per person, or free with regular Museum admission. The lectures are appropriate for all ages and walk-ins are welcome  as no registration is required.

This year’s series began January 7th with “Welcome to 1917”—a multi-media overview of life in the area 100 years ago presented by Ruth Wilson of the Kalamazoo Public Library.

Popular speaker and historian Don LaCombe (pictured right) returns on January 21st to present “Henry Ford’s X Engine – Replacing the Model T.” Mr. LaCombe spent 36 years in Product Development at Ford Motor Company and is now affiliated with Detroit’s Ford Piquette Plant Museum, the birthplace of the Model T.

He will discuss how Henry Ford had experimented with a very unique 8- engine where the cylinders were in an “X” configuration, and his secret five-year race against Charles Kettering, head of GM Research, in the development of a low-cost automobile.

“We are very excited and honored to offer such a distinguished group of speakers and wide-ranging topics for this year’s Speaker Series,” said Chris Shires, Gilmore Car Museum Executive Director.

The remainder of the series consists of several noted historians and authors, with topics as diverse as sand dune rides in Michigan, Le Mans racing, and vintage gas stations to Abe Lincoln and Walt Disney.

On February 4th guests are even asked to become part of the program as they join photo journalist John Lacko and present 3 to 5 minutes of their “Muscle Car Memories.” If guests have a vintage snap-shot and would like to share them with their recollections, they are asked to save them to a blank USB thumb drive so they can easily be found and projected during the presentation.

The 2018 Speaker Series continues for several consecutive Sundays, always beginning at 3pm sharp, in the Gilmore Car Museum’s Heritage Center.  This year’s exciting lineup includes:

January 21, 2018
Henry Ford’s X Engine: Replacing the Model T
Don LaCombe, Automotive Historian

January 28, 2018
Can-Am 50th Anniversary: The Best Stories and Photos
George Levy, Author

February 4, 2018
Your Muscle Car Memories
John Lacko, Racing Aficionado and Photo Journalist

February 11, 2018
The Relevance of Abraham Lincoln
Cameron Brown, Former State Senator

February 18, 2018
Automotive Lubrication Testing Lecture and Seminar
David E. Persell, Ph.D

February 25, 2018
Art, Architecture, and the Automobile 
David O. Lyon, Author and Historian

March 4, 2018
Sir William and Jaguar: From Swallow Sidecars to Victory at Le Mans
Mike Erspamer, Jaguar Historian

March 11, 2018
Walt’s Pilgrimage: The Walt Disney Story with a Gilmore Connection
Christopher W. Tremblay, Author and Disney Historian

March 18, 2018
Slot Cars and the Kalamazoo Connection
John Lacko, Racing Aficionado and Photo Journalist

March 25, 2018
Running On Empty: Abandoned Gas Stations in America
Susan Johnston, Photographer

April 8, 2018
100th Anniversary: Colonel Joseph Westnedge and World War I
Tom George, Historian

April 15, 2018
Riding Across the Sands of Time: Dune Rides, Dune Scooters, Dune Schooners, Dunesmobiles, and Dune Buggies
Christine Byron and Thomas R. Wilson, Historians and Authors

April 22, 2018
The History of Speedway Design and Construction
Van Walling, Historian

April 29, 2018
The History and Evolution of the Country’s Most Unique Aviation Museum: The Air Zoo
Bob Ellis, Founding Air Zoo CEO/Director

Whether your interest is in vintage auto racing, roadside attractions, local history or just the unknown, you’re sure to find the 2018 Gilmore Speaker Series engaging, entertaining, and informative for the entire family. The Gilmore Car Museum— North America’s Largest Auto Museum—is located just 20 minutes north of Kalamazoo or 45 minutes south of Grand Rapids.

For learn more about the 2018 Gilmore Speaker Series or other events, please visit or call (269) 671-5089.