By Denise L. Clumpner
On July 27 in Pontiac, Michigan, a dedicated group of local professionals, historians, collectors and auto enthusiasts together with museum founder and Executive Director Tim Dye hosted a much-anticipated event to unveil the newly-acquired former Crofoot School (currently being renovated) that will house and preserve history of the automotive industry in the greater Pontiac area. Pontiac is home to 37 auto companies, and 53 brands.
Tim and his wife Penny also founded the Pontiac-Oakland Museum in Pontiac, Illinois, which contains their collection of Pontiac/Oakland memorabilia and the largest Pontiac/Oakland library known to exist. The Dyes also own an impressive collection of rare Pontiacs, which are among those displayed at both museum locations. The success of the Pontiac-Oakland Museum has led to increased donations of historical artifacts and vehicles, and because Tim is continually expanding his own knowledge and collecting of all things Pontiac, the need for a second museum arose.
Pontiac, Michigan was the perfect location due to the region’s rich transportation history. Here, horse-drawn buggies and carriages were produced and evolved into the earliest automobile companies. Two of those companies ultimately became General Motors’ Pontiac Motor Division and GMC Truck and Coach.
Visitors to the future museum’s “sneak preview” were treated to an interesting display of rare, locally-produced vehicles which included two Pontiac buggies, a 1908 The Pontiac, 1914 Cartercar, 1907 The Rapid, and a 1924 GMC C cab truck.
GM’s Pontiac Motor Division was well-represented with beautiful examples of GTO, Can Am, Fiero, Grandville, Solstice, Firebird, Grand Prix, and Grand Am on display.
Of particular interest was a 1955 GMC Scenicruiser bus with over 2,300,000 miles (yes, you read correctly!) on the odometer, driven from Indian Springs, Ohio by owners Dave and Jeannie Hartshorne. The bus was open for delighted visitors to tour throughout the event. Other crowd favorites included a 1970 Formula Firebird (with 434 documented original miles) and an impeccably restored 1935 Pontiac 4 door 8-cylinder sedan.
Also on display was the Pontiac Custom Service Training Unit, a mobile classroom meant to be used in small dealerships. The unit is pulled by a nearly exact duplicate of the original hauler, a beautiful, low-mile 1972 Grandville that sports the original mirrors used for towing that were found inside the unit. This unit is the only known survivor of those produced.
Guests at the gala included legendary engine builder George DeLorean, former GMI instructor Jim Lyons, retired Director of GM Motorsports Fred Simmonds, and noted GMC truck historian Don Meyer.
Pontiac Mayor Deirdre Waterman and museum founder Tim Dye both addressed the enthusiastic crowd to discuss the three planned phases of the 55,000 square foot museum, as well as the anticipated positive impact of the museum upon the surrounding community, which is currently revitalizing the downtown area. Upon completion, the museum will contain a theater, art gallery, research library, event space, and restoration facility with the goal of preserving and sharing history, as well as educating and inspiring young people to consider futures in transportation-related technology.
The Pontiac Transportation Museum will partner with the Pontiac-Oakland Museum to share information, displays, collections, resources and connections through the sharing of important transportation and local history, displays, and an extensive library. It will also celebrate and honor the many individuals whose efforts resulted in locally designed and built vehicles that changed the world.
The museum, located at 250 West Pike Street, will be renovated in three phases with Phase One expected to open in 2019, with the timeline dependent upon funding. Volunteers will be needed to serve as docents, to build displays, restore and maintain vehicles and mechanical devices, staff the library, aid researchers, staff the museum store, conduct oral histories, facilitate events, and more. Please contact the museum if you are interested in volunteering!
The Pontiac Transportation Museum is a non-profit organization, and tax deductible donations are gratefully appreciated. Opportunities to purchase legacy naming rights for parts of the museum are also available. For more information, please contact Tim Dye at 815-510-8950 (12pm – 10pm EST) or email@example.com., www.pontiactransportationmuseum.org
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