Flint, MI – Sloan Museum has added a 1968 Flint-built Buick LeSabre to its automotive collection, generously donated by Carol and Jim Lenas. The Buick carries a family history with it, and will help the museum to present stories about family life, travel, migration, automotive culture, consumer culture, and more.
Carol Lenas’s father was a Colonel in the Army, stationed at Detroit Arsenal Army Base in Warren, MI in 1968, when the family purchased the LeSabre at a Detroit dealership for about $3,000. “We got a deal because the 1969s were arriving and the dealership wanted to clear out the old inventory,” Lenas said. The family drove it around the country as they moved from Michigan to Virginia and Alabama, and vacationed with a pop-up camper in tow. All told, the LeSabre has travelled to 48 states.
The car was also passed through the family as children learned to drive, and they took turns using it while away at college. “The three daughters in our family each learned how to drive the Buick in the ‘70s in Alabama,” Lenas said. “I had to take my driver’s license test in it and parallel park. Not an easy feat for such a long car!” Sloan Museum is now the custodian of these memories and will preserve the 1968 LeSabre in its current state, since the wear and tear is so integral to its story.
“It’s very unique in our collection in that it has a very personal story and one that I think many people can relate to,” Sloan Museum’s Curator of Collections Geoff Woodcox said. “The LeSabre captures something that’s a part of many people’s lives—the kids learning to drive, family vacations, etc. It’s got dings, scratches, and rust, but that’s part of the story, too. It isn’t a showpiece; it’s a working family car and is one-of-a-kind in our collection.”
Sloan Museum’s Automotive Collection totals 100 vehicles, all with historic ties to Flint and Genesee County. Over 30 vehicles are currently on display at Sloan Museum's Courtland Center Mall location, and 11 more are on display at Sloan Museum in the Flint Cultural Center. From carriages to cars and trucks, each vehicle helps tell a story about how the automotive industry shaped life in Flint—and how Flint helped put the world on wheels.
Sloan Museum’s hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 to 5 p.m.Sunday, at both the Flint Cultural Center and Courtland Center Mall locations. Admission for Genesee County residents is $3 per person at the Courtland Center Mall location, thanks to support from the Arts & Culture Millage. Admission to the Flint Cultural Center location is free to all through December 9, thanks to support from the University of Michigan-Flint, the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, and the Ruth Mott Foundation. For more information, visit SloanMuseum.org.
About the Sloan Museum
Together with partner organization Longway Planetarium, Sloan Museum inspires youth, families and patrons to discover, explore and value science, history, and technology through engaging learning experiences. Sloan Museum is a member organization of the Flint Cultural Center Corporation and is supported in part by the C.S. Mott Foundation, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Follow Sloan Museum on Facebook and Instagram @SloanMuseum.
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