Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Upscale Small Town Museum – More Automobiles

Returning to our visit to “Ye Ole Carriage Shop” in Spring Arbor Michigan… Yes, here are even more photos of autos from Judi and Lloyd Ganton’s superb collection.  Even after 3 posts exclusively including automobiles, there are still more on display at this family owned private museum. 

I believe that this is a Buick Series 24-6 Touring.  As I’d mentioned before, Buicks were built in Jackson Michigan from 1902 through 1906 before production was shifted to Flint Michigan.  Production of Buick trucks continued in Jackson through 1912.

Notes: Buick is the oldest continuing automotive brand in the USA.  In 2017, 1,400,000 Buicks were sold world-wide, with 80% of sales in China. 

This is a rare 1951 4-door Frazer Convertible.  It was built in Jackson.  Frazer automobiles include the Standard, Deluxe and Manhattan sedans as well as the Vagabond hatchback.  The 1951 Frazer Manhattan convertible was the last 4-door American convertible until Lincoln introduced its 1961 Lincoln Continental. 

The Kaiser-Frazer Corporation was born in 1947 from a partnership between industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and automobile executive Joseph W. Frazer.  In 1947, the new company acquired the automotive assets of Graham-Paige, another American auto maker.  Kaiser-Frazer was one of just a few US automakers to realize success following World War II, if only for a few years. 

This is a 1954 Kaiser Darrin.  These rare sports cars were the last of the 24 different automobiles that were ever built in Jackson Michigan.  Only 435 “Darrins” were built.  The Darrin was a sports car designed by Howard “Dutch” Darrin and built by Kaiser Motors for the 1954 model year.  It was noted for being the second American car (behind the 1953 Corvette) with a fiberglass body.  As you can see in the photo, it also had doors that slid on tracks into the front fender walls.  The car was named for Kaiser and Darrin.

The prototype was eye-catching but a bit under powered when compared to European imports.  A prototype of the Darrin was actually introduced to the public in September of 1952, 2 months before General Motors introduced the Corvette.  Public and media response was quite positive with the roadster being called “the sports car that everyone has been waiting for”.  Waiting was the key word though… Because of the shaky finances of the Kaiser Corporation at this point as well as a number of production issues, the Darrin didn’t reach showrooms until January of 1954…after Corvette had entered the market.  Kaiser stopped production of the Darrin in August of 1954.

This beauty is a 12-cylinder 1948 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet (convertible).  Only 452 of these convertibles were built in 1948.  They were the last American V-12 powered automobile to be produced.

The Lincoln Continental debuted in 1940.  Edsel Ford wanted to build a high-class, stylish luxury model that could compete with the finest autos made in Europe.  Production halted in 1942 with the onset of WWII.  It resumed in 1946.  However, the death of Edsel Ford in 1943 led to a restructuring of the company’s management team and they felt that the design of these cars was “too pre-war” and their production ended in 1948.  The Continental name would not appear again until 1955 when the Continental Mark II was introduced.

This exotic automobile is relatively young.  It’s a 1982 Excalibur. (40 years old this year) In actuality the Excalibur was a car styled after the 1928 Mercedes-Benz SSK…and it was designed for the Studebaker Corporation and initially Studebaker frames and engines were the basis for the special bodywork.  The Excalibur automobiles were all built in Milwaukee Wisconsin.  3,500 of them were built from 1963 until 1990.

Note: Comedian Phyllis Diller was a big fan of Excalibur automobiles.  She owned 4 of them!

This red and white classic 1957 Chevrolet convertible with a 283 HP Power Pack is Judi Ganton’s ‘dream machine’.  This is such a classic design!

Note: My first automobile was a used red and white 4-door 1956 Oldsmobile.  I used it in my sophomore year to commute from Jackson Michigan to Michigan State University in East Lansing.  Who knew that you actually had to change the oil in a car?  Just after the end of the school year, that engine block froze up like a big boulder…

While I really like 57 Chevys, I have to admit that I’d get a bigger kick out of being proud owner of a Chevy that is 17 years older…this light gray 1940 Chevrolet convertible.  Powered with a 6-cylinder engine, this beauty just has an elegance to her…

Would you prefer a more exotic automobile?  How about a gorgeous 1932 Pierce Arrow!  Even that strikingly handsome hood ornament reeks of class and high design… Pierce-Arrows’ 1932 model was powered by a straight-8 engine that produced 125 HP. 

The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company was based in Buffalo New York.  The company built vehicles from 1901 until 1938.  Best known for its expensive luxury cars, the company also manufactured commercial trucks, fire trucks, boats, camp trailers, motorcycles and bicycles.  The first ‘official cars’ of the White House were ordered by President William Howard Taft.  Two Pierce-Arrows were used for state occasions.  Many Pierce-Arrows were owned by Hollywood stars and tycoons.  Most of the royalty around the world had at least one Pierce-Arrow in their collection.

As I’d mentioned before, the auto industry and its various early brands were often intertwined with one being absorbed by or spun off by another maker.  In 1928, the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend Indiana gained control of Pierce-Arrow.  The company’s operated separately but there were benefits realized by both division, mostly by the companies’ engineering departments.  It wasn’t enough to save Pierce-Arrow but the shared ownership did help the company for a bit longer, through the shared dealer network

Can you believe how big these Lincoln Continentals are!?  The first 4-door sedan is from 1958 and the second, a 2-door convertible with a retractable top, was built in 1960.  The cost of the 1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V convertible was $7,056, it weighed 5,179 lbs., had a wheel base of 131 inches and a total length of 227.2 inches…almost 19 feet long!  Only 2,044 of these 1960 convertibles were built.  

This is a 1963 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III.  This rare Rolls-Royce model sports a V-8 engine as well as a left-handed steering wheel.  The Silver Cloud III was first introduced to the public in October 1962 and it was discontinued in 1966.  Only 2,044 of these automobiles were built.  A top of the range Silver Cloud III cost $48,840 when they were introduced.

Rolls-Royce was a British luxury car manufacturer and subsequently an air plane engine builder as well.  The company was founded in 1904 and incorporated in 1906, through the partnership of Charles Rolls and Henry Royce.  The company quickly developed a reputation as the manufacturer of “the best car in the world”.

Note: Did you know that Rolls-Royce once operated a factory in Springfield Massachusetts”?  It was designed to meet a 3-year backlog in demand for their automobiles.  Rolls-Royce of America Inc. operated for 10 years and when the factory closed in 1931, 2,944 vehicles had been produced. 

This 1957 model was the last year of production for the first generation of Ford Thunderbirds with a new design being produced in 1958.  Exactly 21,380 1957 Thunderbirds were built in the model’s final year.

Inspired and marketed directly against Chevrolet’s Corvette, Ford marketed the Thunderbird as a ‘personal luxury car, thereby emphasizing the car’s comfort and convenience features rather then its built-in sportiness.

I just don’t remember this model even though some of them must have still been on the road when I was growing up.  This is a 6-cylinder 1947 Chevrolet Fleetline Fastback.  In 1947, Fleetline sales equaled over 71% of all Chevrolet sales.  From 1949 through 1952, the ‘Fastback’ was the only one offered, and the Fleetline was dropped for 1953.  Many of these 2-door “Fastback” models were transformed into ‘street rods’ over the years.

Look at all the other 'collectables' almost encircling the Chevy Fastback in the preceding photo.  The museum is packed with original signs and objects of interest to serious collectors...

My next post will continue our exploration of the varied collection of items on display in Spring Arbor Michigan’s Ye Ole Carriage Shop.  No more automobiles…at least full size ones…will be included. 

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. Amazing cars! I love esp. the Kaiser Darrin sport car. So beautiful! Thank you for sharing them with us, David.

  2. Back in those days, cars looked different enough that it was easy to tell them apart, but now I have to look for the name or insignia on them. It would be fun to tool around in that Excalibur.

  3. What a great collection they have! I am thrilled that so many different people created cars, and the ins and outs of how the companies changed over the years. Not to mention how many were manufactured in different areas! Going back in time, when carriages were made, I wonder if there were lots of brands/manufacturers who were well known. Not something I'll seriously look into however! Looking forward to more memorabilia!