Detroit’s Incredible Hidden Car Collection

1965 Bordinat CobraMac’s Motor City Garage visits the amazing, not-so-secret classic car collection of the Detroit Historical Society. Join us for a guided tour.   



MCG would like to thank David Marchioni, collection volunteer, and Adam Lovell, Curator of Collections at the Detroit Historical Society, for making MCG’s visit possible. 


The people of Detroit own a unique collection of historic automobiles. Donated over the years by the auto companies, their executives, and other parties interested in the history of the auto industry, these vehicles are in the perpetual care of the Detroit Historical Society.

Unfortunately, the Society lacks a public exhibit space for the collection, which numbers more than 70 vehicles. Some of the cars are periodically loaned out to auto museums around the country, while the balance of the collection is stored in a warehouse at Historic Fort Wayne in Detroit, each vehicle housed in its own protective, environmentally controlled clear plastic bubble.

As a result of these unusual circumstances, many Detroiters have never seen or even heard of the collection, which includes a number of extraordinary cars, some of them priceless. An air of legend seems to surround the cars, something approaching urban folklore. Adam Lovell, Curator of Collections, intends to change that.

He and the Society will be reaching out to the historic car community, showing select vehicles from the collection at concours and car shows around the country. And the warehouse collection will be made available for guided tours by collector car clubs and other organizations. That’s a must-see for any car enthusiast, for sure.

In the meantime, here’s a very small sample of the amazing collection.


1924 Hupmobile RoadsterThis 1924 Hupmobile Roadster, restored in the 1950s and donated in 1973, is representative of a number of rare Detroit-built cars in the collection.


Det Hist Society_Jun 20 2015_0038The 1963 Ford Mustang II concept sports a number of unusual features, including a lift-off fiberglass top and a stylized custom interior in blue and white vinyl. Ford stylists based the concept on a Mustang production car prototype.


Lincoln Continental Mark IVThe collection includes a number of cars formerly owned by important Motor City automotive figures, including Henry Leland, Henry Joy, and Lee Iacocca. Here’s Lido’s personal Lincoln Continental Mark IV.


Scripps Booth BiAutoGoThe collection’s Scripps-Booth Biautogo (circa 1913) has been pictured in countless auto history books, but it’s a shock to see the beast in person. For one thing, the photos belie the car’s enormous size. The Society plans to do a partial conservation on this very special vehicle and display it at concours events around the country, to serve as an outreach to the national collector car community. Be sure to check it out if you get the chance—the car is loaded with amazing innovations and surprises.


????????????????????????????????????Also featured in the lead photo above, the 1965 Bordinat Cobra concept was based on a 1964 Cobra chassis (CSX3001) with a custom one-off body constructed in ABS Royalex plastic under the direction of Ford styling VP Gene Bordinat. It’s just one of many unique and priceless vehicles in the collection.


10 thoughts on “Detroit’s Incredible Hidden Car Collection

  1. That BiAutoGo is … something else! Did anybody ever manage to ride that thing successfully?

  2. Good to know that they will be opening this amazing collection for enthusiasts to see. The exposure can only help their efforts in maintaining and improving the conditions they are stored in.

  3. Being A Friend of Dave’s I was able to Visit And More than Just Cars Thank You Dave For Your Time To Take Us Tru

  4. I went thru the Fort Wayne building about a year ago and was fascinated and sad at the amount of relics stored there.The automobiles are just a small amount of the hoard stored there.They would do themselves a favor by divesting some of the artifacts that will probably never be displayed.They have two factory built Cadillac station wagons neither of which is displayed.

    • It is a shame with so many vacant buildings & land in Detroit, even in the up & coming Mid-Town area, that they couldn’t have a building devoted to this collection. The Detroit Historical Museum mission isn’t just about cars, they also have the Dossin Nautical Museum on Belle Isle, & need to serve the larger community in Detroit.

  5. Love Mr Iococas Lincoln, had one, it was the car to be seen in back in the day, wish to c it out of its bubble

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