Learn How to Drive a Model T at the Gilmore Car Museum

Today, guest blogger Kayla Kiley from Discover Kalamazoo describes what it’s like to drive a Model T and tells how you can learn to drive one yourself at the Gilmore Car Museum. 

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 4.26.20 PM“You might not believe it, but I’m older than this car!” laughed Jim Brand, as we bumped along the roads at the Gilmore Car Museum. He’s right — I never would’ve guessed it. Jim, 88 of Canadian Lakes, Mich., seemed much more youthful than your typical grandpa, but his car looked ancient. It was a gray box on wheels. It had three pedals! Your hand made the car go faster/slower by moving a piece of metal that awkwardly stuck out from the steering wheel. And the emergency brake/clutch release impaled the car floor and hit my knee. I might as well have been driving a space ship.

Jim was among a few volunteers to bring his 1926 Ford or Model T Ford to Gilmore Car Museum to help teach the “new drivers” at the Gilmore Car Museum’s Model T Driving School. Tucked away in picturesque Hickory Corners (about 20 miles from Kalamazoo, Mich.), the museum offers Model T driving classes once a month May through September. Plus, the museum’s marketing director, Jay Follis, gives the group a fantastic tour. People come from around the globe for this experience of stepping back in time.

I walked onto the museum’s grounds to see a variety of Model Ts neatly parked in a row — some were privately owned and others were borrowed from the exhibit floor. After a driving introduction, Jay told our group to “pick one and hop in!”

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 4.27.59 PMI quickly steered clear of the crank-start car – figuring that I’d stall then rip off my arm trying to get it to restart. And I opted out of the windowless versions. (Hey, it was raining!) So, I took to the luxury of Jim’s fully-enclosed, electric-start Model T, which even featured a bicycle speedometer. Talk about souped-up.

As Jim sweetly walked me through everything, I was 16 again.“I had three (Model Ts) in high school – lots of kids did,” Jim said, while effortlessly directing me on which of the foreign gadgets to push or pull. “They were $15 to $30 back then – and $30 was a very high price. People were glad to get rid of them!”

Today, Jim said Model Ts run a nice sticker price of around $11,000. “I enjoyed it so much in my first childhood that when I got into my second childhood, I bought another one,” Jim laughed.

On the museum’s “driving range,” I stalled the car only a couple of times (and I was proud of that). But my driving partner, Dale Smith, 42 of Delton, turned out to be a pro Model T driver. Not surprising – Fords are in his blood.

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 4.28.28 PM“My grandfather used to own a Ford dealership down the road,” Dale said. “My grandfather was going to Detroit to become a doctor, and on the train ride, he read a paper about the Model T. He became friends with Henry Ford, and Henry gave him a Ford Franchise in 1922.”

At the Model T driving school, you truly step back in time. Exhibits come alive as Jay tells stories about the cars and the people who owned them. And on the driving range, you get to cruise in a piece of history while talking to the people who have a connection with and love for yesteryear. Not to mention, you’ll truly gain an appreciation for today’s cars.

If you’d like to learn to drive a Model T at the Gilmore Car Museum, here’s some helpful information to get you started.

Students must be 16 or older and have a valid driver’s license. It costs $85 for museum members and $95 for non-members. This course will teach the skills required to drive any of the 15 million Ford Model Ts built between 1908 and 1927 including:

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 4.28.11 PMUse of spark and throttle control levers
Coordination of hand and foot controls
Proper shifting techniques
Stopping the vehicle
Correct use of the Neutral / Brake lever
Reversing the vehicle
And, of course, touring the Gilmore Car Museum collection

Each student has the opportunity to drive two Model Ts. After your successful Road Test in an Authentic Model T, the museum will present you with a certificate of completion. While classes for 2014 are already sold out, contact us to be put on the wait list for this summer or get first dibs on classes in 2015. Register by contacting Brittany at 269-671-5089 ext. 17. The 2014 classes are offered 9:30 a.m. to noon or 2 to 4:30 p.m. on June 22, July 20, Aug. 23 or Sept. 14.

Have you visited the Gilmore Car Museum? Tell us about your visit!

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 2.46.46 PMKayla Kiley loves wrapping up in the unparalleled beauty of Michigan summers. Neither a true country girl (she took last place in a cow-milking contest) nor a real city girl (she’s from a small town in northern Michigan), Kayla is content being a Pure Michigan girl. While she loves to travel and explore the world around her, the Mitten is where her heart resides. Kayla is the Digital & Communications Manager for Discover Kalamazoo

 

Eight Reasons to Vote Kalamazoo as Beer City USA 2013

We’re thrilled to see three Michigan cities in the running for Beer City USA 2013 – Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Last week, we heard what makes Grand Rapids a great pick, and today Greg of Discover Kalamazoo makes the case for his city. Read his thoughts below and look out for a post from Ann Arbor later this week!

As you likely know, the annual competition to be named “Beer City USA” is underway.  Voting continues until 1:59 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2013. 

While there are many worthy destinations being considered for this annual recognition (including our friends in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids), let me share with you eight reasons why Kalamazoo deserves your consideration (and vote) to be named Beer City USA 2013:

    • Kalamazoo is home to Bell’s – the oldest craft brewery east of Colorado. It’s the largest brewery in Michigan, the 7th largest craft brewery (and 14th largest brewery) in the nation, and home to three of the top 18 beers in the world for 2013 (ratebeer.com).
    • Kalamazoo was ranked No. 4 in the Top 10 Beer Cities (livability.com), one of the Top 10 Best Vacation Cities for Beer Lovers (The Street) and has one of the largest, and quite possibly the largest (in terms of number of events), Beer Week Celebrations in Michigan.
    • Imperial Beverage was named the 2010 Craft Beer Distributor of the Year by the National Wholesalers Association and the Brewers Association, and was the creator of Kalamazoo Beer Week (the 3rd annual event, held in January 2013, had 147 events over an eight-day period)
    • Kalamazoo Beer Exchange was ranked as the No. 1 Bar in Michigan (ratebeer.com).
    • Craft-Beer Centric locations such as Central City Tap House, the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, Old Burdick’s and Shakespeare’s Pub offer a significant number of craft beers at their establishments (with the Centre City Tap House opening later this year).
    • Restaurants producing their own craft beer include Bell’s Eccentric Café, Bilbo’s Pizza, Bravo! Restaurant and Olde Peninsula Brewpub and Restaurant.
    • Alamo Drafthouse has chosen Kalamazoo as the location for its first Michigan theatre. Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo will open in 2013 and offer 10 theatres, where you can enjoy food and craft beer while watching a mix of the latest releases and all-time favorites. “Kalamazoo reminds me a lot of our hometown of Austin with its strong economy, large university, great beer scene and solid arts community,” Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League said.  We are very excited about this opportunity and to become a part of the neighborhood.”
    • By the end of 2013, five new craft brewers will be opening in Kalamazoo (including Arcadia Brewing, Boatyard Brewing, Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing, Latitude 42 and Rupert’s Brew House).

    While all of these facts, figures, rankings and acknowledgments are great to have received and earned, it is really the culture of the craft beer scene in Kalamazoo which gives us tremendous community pride.

Please share with everyone you know one very simple domain: www.VoteKalamazoo.com.  If you decide to leave comments while you are voting, please keep them positive about why Kalamazoo should be selected as Beer City USA 2013.  One vote per IP address is permitted.  We invite you to like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beer4kzoo), follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/beer4kzoo) and join us in raising a #Beer4Kzoo!

Greg Ayers is the President/CEO of Discover Kalamazoo, the official destination marketing organization representing Kalamazoo County.  More information about Discover Kalamazoo is available at www.discoverkalamazoo.com.

Who’s getting your vote for Beer City USA 2013? Read from Grand Rapids here and look out for a post from Ann Arbor in the coming days!