Bookshelf: A field guide to America’s car museums

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There are nearly 200 car museums in the United States. Among them is the Tampa Bay Automotive Museum in Florida which features amazing examples of rare automobiles, especially those with front-wheel drive and those with rear-mounted engines, and and presents them in a educationally enhancing setting | Larry Edsall photo

Three years and another around-the-country road trip later, Michael Milne is back with the second edition of his Roadster Guide to America’s Classic Car Museums. The original version spanned 340 pages and included 225 “auto-themed attractions. This updated one expands to 408 pages and more than 300 museums and other car-based attractions.

In addition to writing his books, Milne writes about car museums and travel destinations for a variety of publications. 

The book cover

The guidebook’s focus is on open-to-the-public museums with regular visitors’ hours, though it includes some notable private collections that allow visitors by appointment. 

The usual guidebook details are included: museum location, highlights, location, admission cost, hours, phone number, website and a paragraph or a few about the place and its collection. 

Some of the museums included might seem surprising, but Milne explains why they are included. For example, the Lock Museum of America in Terryville, Connecticut, with its collection of devices designed to thwart would-be car thieves. or the American Clock & Watch Museum, also in Connecticut, which also displays speedometers and clocks from cars.

In addition to profiling classic car museums, Milne punctuates the book with side-trip sidebars about often-fascinating car-oriented places to visit such as Cadillac Ranch in the Texas Panhandle and Carhenge in western Nebraska.

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But while he notes the 1941 Harley-Davidson motorcycle on display at the AAA Mid-Atlantic office in Wilmington, Delaware, he doesn’t include motorcycle museums, not even the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, in the book. But he does include some bus and truck museums.

In reviewing the first edition of the Roadster Guide, I wrote, “If you are into collector cars and do any sort of traveling, a copy of Roadster Guide to America’s Classic Car Museums & Attractions needs to be in your glovebox or suitcase.”

Ditto that in regard to the new and improves and expanded second edition.

Reviewed

Roadster Guide to America’s Classic Car Museums

By Michael Milne

Changes in Longitude Press, 2019

ISBN 9780997533316

Softcover, 408 pages

$21.95 (amazon.com)

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

1 COMMENT

  1. Dear Larry –thanks for the interesting article. I sometimes promote them on my Twitter and Facebook pages, if you care to look at what I do and leave a "like". I’m a classic car appraiser out here on the West coast. (Troise Appraisal Services) I don’t generally visit museums too much because I get to see quite a few interesting cars but I hope your readers will support these museums. Many of them are struggling to survive and they need a healthy stream of visitors! Best, Joe

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