What makes the Northeast Classic Car Museum in Norwich, New York, special is the quality, variety, and exquisite maintenance of the vehicles displayed, and the attractive arrangement. Wide, carpeted aisles make it easy to view the vehicles from all angles and photograph them. According to executive director Kay Zaia, the museum is primarily an educational institution. “Our mission,” she says, “is education.”
The heart and soul of the museum is the Staley Collection, which consists of cars and trucks from the remarkably varied collection of George E. Staley. This collection includes many finely maintained original vehicles as well as those that are restored. Look for representatives from Duesenberg, Packard, Cord, Auburn, and more, plus the largest collection of Franklin automobiles in the world. The rest of the vehicles on display are owned by the museum or are on loan from private owners.
Wandering among the displays is similar to taking a crash course in the history of the American automobile. Here you will find uncommon marques, such as LaSalle, White, Chandler, Reo, Peerless, and Knox, as well as famous nameplates, such as Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Plymouth, and others.
An exhibit that has been open since December, 2005, features clothing and accessories from the 1890s through the 1980s on loan from the Chenango County Historical Museum. Also of interest is Red Lights and Sirens, a display of 20 antique emergency vehicles including ambulances, police cars, fire trucks, motorcycles, and tow trucks. This exhibit will close at the end of April, 2006.
Other special displays include cars made in New York state and vehicles and machinery found in barns across the country. Among the vehicles on display in the “barn display” are a 1922 TT Ford truck, a 1916 Dodge “Petunia” touring, and a 1905 Lovell built in a bicycle shop in New York state’s Chemung county.
The Northeast Classic Car Museum celebrates its ninth anniversary this year with a special exhibit titled “The Class of ’56: Honoring a classic year in the history of the automobile.” This exhibit is slated to open on May 20, 2006, and will feature original and restored cars made for the 1956 model year. Many of these cars will be on loan for one year.
The museum has grown from one building with 56 cars to three connected buildings with a minimum of 100 cars always on display. The museum is open year round except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. For more information, log onto www.classiccarmuseum.org.