A Visit to The GM Heritage Center- A Beautiful Legacy

Hi Friends! I hope you have had a fantastic week!

We have had beautiful weather today! Pure Michigan! Blue skies, mild temperatures and bright sunshine! The kids are finally out of school and the long awaited lazy days of summer have finally begun!

Recently, we were treated to a very special opportunity. We were invited to go visit the GM Heritage Center in Warren, MI. The GM Heritage Center is a facility that houses a collection of historic GM cars as well as artifacts and documents of GM’s history of innovation. It was really exciting to be able to see so many of the beautiful cars in history. Our family has always loved cars. So much of Michigan’s economy is tied to the automotive industry with GM, Ford and Chrysler all having their headquarters here in the Detroit area.

So it was a delight to walk down memory lane and see these amazing cars!

This first car came from the Cadillac Motor Company. Cadillac was named after the French Explorer Le Sieur Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who discovered Detroit in the early 18th century. This is the 1902 Cadillac Runabout (above). It had a single cylinder, 6.5 HP engine and a base price at $750. That coil on the front was the radiator.
Above, The 1903 Cadillac Model A, Single cylinder engine, 10 HP base price $750. There was a rear attachment option that allowed you to convert from 2 passenger to 4 passenger. This car could get up to 30-35 mph.
Above, the 1931 Cadillac V16, had a Base Price of $6,500. another beautiful Cadillac! With inflation today, it would be about $110,000. In this same year, construction of the Empire State Building was completed, and Thomas Edison filed his last patent.
Above: Parade of Progress: in the late 1930’s, GM began a campaign to take news of the ever advancing industry and research to the people. At the 1939 New York World’s Fair, a fleet of 12 “Futureliners” dispersed on a tour throughout the countryside  stopping at towns across America sharing technology innovations. It was interrupted by WW2, but it had reached over 200 cities and small towns.
The longest produced car in the United States, the Chevrolet Suburban, still in production today, goes back all the way to 1935. Above is the 1946 Chevrolet Suburban.
Above is the 1948 Chevrolet Pickup, with that beautiful iconic grill. Standard equipment included a heater and a defroster, a luxury in that day. Base price $1,315.
Above and below, the 1951 Le Sabre Concept Car. Taking its cues from the Jet Age, specifically the F-86 Sabre. GM’s first post war concept car.
Above and below, The 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, first introduced at the Waldorf Astoria. A huge hit, they built 300 Corvettes that first year, by hand in Flint, Michigan. all with the Polo white paint and Sportsman red bucket seats.  Base price, $3,498. In 1953, the Detroit Lions were the NFL Champions. And the most popular tv show was  “I Love Lucy,” followed by “Dragnet”.
Above and below, a 1957 Chevy Bel Air, Base Price $2,611. It featured gold trim on the front grille, front fender chevrons and the hood. The most popular show on television that year, “Gunsmoke”. 1957 also marked the introduction of the Wham-o Flying Disk (Frisbee)
Above, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad, a 2-door station wagon, very low production comparatively (I didn’t know they made a 2 door station wagon!)
Above and below, 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Base Price $7,491. In 1959, Alaska became the 49th state and Hawaii became the 50th state, and Barbie appeared on toy store shelves. Nasa began it’s astronaut program, and the Twilight Zone premiered on CBS.
The tail fins of the Eldorado were massive, incorporating the jet age into the design, and a bold statement with the twin bullet tail lights. It was a post war “Go Big or Go Home” statement.
Above and below is the 1961 Mako Shark Corvette Concept Car. 1961, John F. Kennedy became President, Elvis was singing “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”, and Pampers were introduced.
The Mako Shark Corvette had the distinct paint that was dark on the top and gradually got lighter on the sides.
The 1961 Mako Shark Concept Car (above) was a major influence on the design of the 1963 Corvette (below).
1963 Corvette Sting Ray, base price $4,247, named after a sleek lined predator of the sea.
A favorite among Corvette fans.
Above, the iconic split rear window on the 1963 Corvette.
Above and below, the 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air available with 409 V8 engine. This car was pictured on the Beach Boys Album featuring their hit record, “She’s Real Fine My 409”. 409 cubic inch and 409 horsepower. Base price $2,688.
Above and below, 1962 Monza GT Concept Car
Above, You can see how low the car sits to the ground. I am about 5’4″.
Above and below, the 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Monza SS Concept: Another concept car which sat very low.
Above, a 1966 Chevrolet Impala SS Convertible
Above, 1967 Chevrolet Astro Concept Car 
Above, a 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge, Another Fast Cool Muscle Car from the 60’s. It was named “the Judge” after a popular comedy skit starring Sammy Davis Jr called “Here Comes the Judge” on the comedy show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.
Above, a 1969 Pontiac Trans Am, named after the Trans Am Racing Series. At the time, all Trans Ams were polar white with blue racing stripes. Only 697 Trans Ams were produced that year, and only 8 of those were convertibles. The base price for the coupe was $3,556.
Above and below, a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, Base Price $5,456 Made famous in the Burt Reynolds and Sally Fields movie “Smokey and the Bandit”.
There were so many nostalgic feelings as we walked past each car. It represents such an age of innovation along with beauty and creativity! To look at these cars many of which are now vintage vehicles, the designs still take your breath away!
Oh how we love our cars! They allow us to express ourselves and our love of freedom! They take us to new places we’ve never been before! I am so grateful to all the trailblazers in the car industry that have paved the way for us to be able to enjoy the independence our cars give us! I am thankful for the thousands upon thousands of jobs this industry has provided to my family and so many others across this country. I appreciate the pursuit of excellence that moves ever forward. And with that, I think it’s time that I get “On the road again.”
Have a fantastic weekend!
I’ll be back Tuesday for another post!
Love Always,
Amy
An open road is like a story just waiting to be told.   ~Author unknown

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16 comments

  1. Amy,
    Thank you! I love a history lesson. That was quite the drive down Memory Car Lane. I liked how you included the not only the base prices of the cars but tied into what was going on in the world when each car introduced.

    P.S. It’s nice to see you can get out and enjoy Detroit area festivities.

  2. And look at you on one crutch, Amy!! I call that progress.
    Heritage centers must be the big thing lately. We JUST visiting one up north of us. It was different than just cars, but they were actually having a car show going on at the same time. You’ll see it on the blog the beginning of July!!
    XOOX
    Jodie

  3. This was such a fun read and I am going to show this to my 17 year old son who just got his first car. Before shopping we were looking back at the history of a few of them so your post is very timely😉I love how bright and colorful they all were!!

    1. That is pretty cool, isn’t it? I am not sure they made them, it was a prototype but it’s influence could be seen in some later year models. I heard the man who designed it actually caught a Mako Shark, and had it stuffed and hanging in his office. And the colors of the fish were used to come up with the colors on the car. Pretty cool!

  4. Hi Amy. What a treat it must have been to visit the Heritage center. I love those vintage cars, especially the 1953, Chevy Corvette. Did you have a favorite? Whenever I see the really old vehicles, like the 1903, Cadillac Model A, I always think that they must have been fashioned after the old stage coaches. Thanks for sharing a very interesting post.

    1. Thank you, Christina! For the past week, I have contemplated your very question, which is my favorite? I think I’m leaning towards the red 57 Chevy Bel Air. I love the big red fins and the shiny chrome! But I also really liked the Eldorado and the Corvette too. It is so much fun, isn’t it? I priced them this week (the Bel Air) and they are going (fully restored) for about $40,000 (yikes!) But just fun to dream about! And who knows, maybe someday!

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