Gilmore Car Museum’s Speaker Series 2018

A crowd, sitting amongst a 1916 Packard racer, is enjoying a recent special lecture at the Gilmore Car Museum’s speaker series.


Hickory Corners – 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.”

Noted author and historian Cameron Brown will speak about Abraham Lincoln on February 11— one day before the 16th US President’s birthday—during the Gilmore Car Museum’s 2018 Speaker Series.


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 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. 

Walt Disney’s local connection will be the topic of Disney historian and author, Christopher W. Tremblay during his presentation March 18 at the Gilmore Car Museum. This recently discovered photo shows Disney driving a 1908 Stanley Steam Runabout on the campus of the Gilmore Car Museum in September 1964. Personal friend and museum founder Donald Gilmore is in the back seat with early museum staffer Bucky Boudeman next to Disney.


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, Author and Historian

 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
M. 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


269-671-5089  ext. 13
FAX 269-671-5843

The Gilmore Car Museum is a public, 501(c)3 non-profit educational institution, dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the American automobile.



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