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Mon. June 17th: Three Museums & Steve

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<– Day 44 – Sun. June 16th: Escaping the Rain to Packard-ville | Trip Overview | Day 46 – Tues. June 18th: Shabu Shabu and Pipes –>


Steve and I outside Schoops for lunch in Warsaw, Indiana

On Monday June 17th, we decided to attempt three car museums in Indian within a single day. I’m happy to report that my wife was receptive to the idea and our adventure did not end in divorce!


On Monday June 17th we drove from Auburn, Indiana, to Chicago, Illinois.

The first two museums, the National Automobile and Truck Museum of the United States, also known as NATMUS, and the Auburn, Cord, Deusenberg Museum, were started by the same person in Auburn, Indiana.

Given they are essentially on the same campus, at least it seemed that way to me, you might think the two would offer a joint ticket package or jointly advertise. Instead, each barely mentioned the other on their respective websites. In fact, we only discovered the NATMUS after arriving to see the Auburn Cord museum on Sunday evening (but we arrived too late to get in).


The NATMUS building is in the distance, while the ACD museum is to the right.

Having mapped out our strategy, on Monday morning we began with the NATMUS, because it opens at 9am (the Auburn, Cord doesn’t open until 10am). Active Military get in free, which saved us some dollars.

The collection can be roughly divided into three sections. The first area is filled with toys of different sizes. While they were neat, we’d certainly seen more at the Antique toy and Fire Truck Museum.



The second area is filled with a variety of cars and trucks of varying vintages. It’s a smorgasbord.


The only Jeep we saw was this half-sized jeepster.

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The third area is below the main floor and is heavily dedicated to International Harvester.


It took us about an hour to wander through the museum. We enjoyed looking around. The museum is pretty traditional in terms of lots of vehicles parked next to each other. Nothing was too imaginative beyond that. One area NATMUS could improve upon is their t-shirt selection. We didn’t like them at all.

Next, we entered the doors of the Auburn, Cord, Deusenberg museum and stepped back in time, partly because it’s housed in an older dealer building. This museum could better be called Indiana Automotive Museum since it focuses almost exclusively on Indiana cars history.

The first floor of the museum has a wonderful vintage feel, because it’s been well preserved. The floor is even original. The cars are gorgeous and we had fun learning about them. These were all made by the Auburn Cord Company.

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Next, we went to the third floor. There, we found displays that highlighted other vehicles made in Indiana. That’s when we learned just how important Indiana was to the history of the car. Here are a couple signs we found interesting.

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The cars were beautiful on the third floor as well. Plenty to look at.


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Also on the third floor was additional information. Here you can see original speedometer drawings drafted to test out different designs.


The more time we spent on the third floor, the more we enjoyed this museum. It was one of our favorites of the entire trip.


Our self-portrait. Inexplicably, the lights in this room were never turned on. However, there were no signs forbidding access, but there were signs saying ‘get your photo here’. So, that’s what we did!

After the NATMUS/Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg museums, we had planned to eat lunch with Steve. We agreed to meet in Warsaw at Schoops, a regional chain of diners. We spent about an hour talking with Steve and eating. It was a great time. Thanks Steve!

Following lunch, we set out sights on the Studebaker museum in South Bend, Indiana. I knew nothing about the museum and even less about Studebakers. When we arrived, we learned that the Studebaker museum is housed next to the History Center, so it is a little confusing at first, but the nice people there directed us to the right place.


Entrance to the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana

The first thing I learned was that the Studebaker’s starting making carriages before they built cars. The second thing I learned was that Studebaker embraced the electric car, before finally switching to gas engines. Here are a few pictures.


How the Studebaker company got its start.


Example of an electric car.

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Ann, did they say you could play in this car? I think she was too tired of car museums to care . . .

After we toured through the first floor, we took the stairs to the second floor. At the very entrance were three cars from the Houston Art Car parade. The car in front has a body made up of small pieces welded together. The VW on the left has a body made from wrought iron. Really creative stuff!


Cool cars from the Houston Art Car event.


Lots of later model Studebakers on the third floor.

Once we completed the museum, we headed for Chicago. Our 1.5 hour trip took 4 hours. I was done with Chicago by the time we arrived, but that was partly because I was done with SIRI as well. On Tuesday we get to see some cool Wurlitzer related stuff.

<– Day 44 – Sun. June 16th: Escaping the Rain to Packard-ville | Trip Overview | Day 46 – Tues. June 18th: Shabu Shabu and Pipes –>


4 Comments on “Mon. June 17th: Three Museums & Steve

  1. SE Pennsylvania Steve

    Dave, it sounds like for your next trip better you better dump SIRI and rely on a Garmin or some other tried-and-true GPS system…

  2. Dave Antram

    Wow, you guys are sure learning LOTS about American Independent car
    makers on this trip aren’t you? lol
    Stude museum has come a long way and is something they can sure be
    proud of – maybe someday there will be something similiar for Kaiser, Frazer
    and the Willys gang!
    btw, I too had the same thoughts about why those two side by side places
    don’t advertise together better!

  3. mmdeilers Post author

    We sure have learned a lot!

    I get the feeling we won’t be learning any more about cars on this trip. I think Ann’s had her fill. She’s ready to return home, as am I!

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