The Golden Age of Sports Cars, 1949-1967 is the title of an all-new special museum exhibition opening at the Gilmore Car Museum on Saturday, October 1st and running until April 2017.
This exhibit showcases nearly two dozen of the rarest and most sought-after sports cars in the world including Nicolas Cage’s 1967 Ferrari 275/GTB 4, the race-inspired 1955 Mercedes Benz Gull Wing, and an authentic Shelby Cobra 427.
For a very short period — only the first 10 days of the exhibit — guests will be also able to see rock legend Janis Joplin’s psychedelic 1964 Porsche 356 that set a world record price paid for a Porsche 356 when it was sold in 2015 by Sotheby’s Auction for $1.76 million, earning nearly triple its high estimate of $600,000.
Joplin purchased the Porsche used in 1968 and had it painted bumper to bumper in a mural which includes psychedelic skull-like faces, mushrooms and floating eyes as well as landscapes, butterflies and birds.
The car became Joplin’s daily driver in the San Francisco Bay area and it’s said that fans would often leave notes for her under the windshield wipers.
While multiple replicas of Carroll Shelby’s famed Cobra 427 have been built by hobbyists, the Gilmore Car Museum’s exhibit features a very rare authentic example. The unaltered 1967 Cobra is one of only 30 “Street” versions produced and was delivered new by Brondes Ford of Toledo, Ohio (and is the 6th from the last Cobra ever produced). It can reach 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds with a top speed of 163 mph.
What caused the great interest in sports cars during this time period? Just after WWII, many returning American servicemen brought back a variety of sports cars they had discovered in Europe. These small cars were ill-suited for a family and were often uncomfortable, but they offered an exciting experience to drive.
American car manufacturers quickly recognized the enthusiasm and potential market, and by the early 1950s, they had introduced American cars to compete. The Chevrolet Corvette debuted in 1953, the Kaiser Darrin arrived in 1954, and the Ford Thunderbird was introduced in 1955.
The special exhibit is sponsored in part by the Mad Dogs & Englishmen British Car Club and was assembled by guest curators Tom Kayser and John Lacko, both well-known locally and among sports car aficionados.
The Gilmore Car Museum—North America’s largest auto museum—is located just 20 minutes northeast of Kalamazoo on M-43 and Hickory Road. To learn more about the Gilmore Car Museum visit: www.GilmoreCarMuseum.org or call the Museum at 269.671.5089.