American Legends at the Gilmore

A fine new exhibit at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan puts the spotlight on historic Midwestern hot rods. 


Dennis Lesky of the Ionia Hot Rod Shop is the guest curator for this unique show at the Gilmore, which is scheduled to run through 2014. American Legends: Hot Rods and Customs features 20 historic Midwestern hot rods along with the work of automotive and motorcycle artist Tom Fritz, here blown up to dramatic life size. Famed rods in the exhibit include:

+   The ’51 Chevy Bel Air originally customized (and then recustomized) by the Barris Brothers in 1951 for Larry Ernst, a Catholic priest in Toledo, Ohio. Keith Ashley’s recreation on display here depicts the car in its second version in three-tone gold, bronze, and green.

+   Bill Couch’s ’34 Ford three-window was constructed by Joaquin Arnett of the Bean Bandits, then brought east by Andy Granatelli.  Couch, then a teenager, discovered the chopped and shortened coupe on a Chicago-area used car lot in 1954. He’s owned it ever since.

+   Tommy Foster first built his ’32 Ford roadster with flathead Ford V8 power, then dropped in a brand-new Cadillac V8 in 1950. Winner of the Most Outstanding Car award at the first Detroit Autorama in 1953, the Deuce has since been shown at Pebble Beach and Meadow Brook Hall.

…and 17 more historic or period-authentic hot rods and customs. Gallery below.


4 thoughts on “American Legends at the Gilmore

  1. The Larry Ernst Chevy Belair is beautiful. I feel in love with it several years ago at the Glenmoor Gathering.

    • Thank you. I hope we had a chance to talk at Glenmoor. If not I will be at the “Riot” in August, if you can make it, I will enjoy chatting. Keith

  2. Great coverage Bill, thank you for spot-lighting this exhibit! I’m fortunate it’s right in my backyard, and can go as often as I want!

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