Off The Beaten Track – Auburn IN, An Auto Museum-land In The Heart Of America

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum (ACD), Road-Test.orgLast year my wife and I made a special trip to Battle Ground, Indiana (just outside of Lafayette), to visit one thing that had been on our ‘bucket list’ since the day we met…Wolf Park [WolfPark.org]. It took us 8 hours of driving to get there – but it was worth every minute. Our experience of getting a wet kiss from a real wolf and plenty of photo opportunities can be found HERE.

What we didn’t expect on our journey was the wonderful city of Auburn, Indiana. We stopped in Auburn for a coffee break – only to discover there are a number of auto and air museums there. If you love cars and/or planes – this is your mecca. You simply MUST take the time to visit Auburn, or even make it an actual trip destination.

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum (ACD), Road-Test.orgIf you’re planning a trip to the Indy 500 or even a NASCAR event at either Michigan International Speedway (MIS) or Chicagoland Speedway – you aren’t far from Auburn. Located a little over two hours north of Indianapolis, and about three hours south of Chicago or Detroit. It’s only around 90 minutes from MIS if you’re visiting that track (42 miles south of the I-69/US 12 intersection).

Other than Subaru, I had no idea that Indiana has had a rich automotive history, dating back many decades. If you’re a fan of old classic cars, then you can’t pass the opportunity of spending time going through the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum (ACD) [AutomobileMuseum.org].

I’ve always been a big fan of the Cord and Duesenberg cars, so to find the actual factory and museum quite by accident was a huge bonus for me. About 7 minutes from Interstate 69, the ACD took us a good 2 hours to go through and we didn’t stop and read everything, but we didn’t rush either.

It’s a great place to see some beautifully restored cars from a time when gas was cheap and cars were huge.
Hours: Monday – Friday 10am -7pm, Saturday & Sunday 10am – 5pm.
Admission: $12.50 adults, $7.50 students. Children under 5, free.

Unfortunately we didn’t realize there was another auto museum directly behind the ACD – it looked like it was the same building when we initially stopped in. We had run out of time to view the National Auto and Truck Museum (NATMUS) [NatMus.org], spread over two buildings and 3 floors. By the looks of the museum through the windows – I’d have to hazard a guess that it would take way more than 2 hours to see all of the amazing vehicles and cool antiques in the former Auburn factory buildings – and I’d be willing to make the trip again just to see this museum.

National Auto and Truck Museum (NATMUS), Road-Test.orgThe NATMUS exhibits cars that have been built in the tradition of the Auburn Automobile Company, including outstanding examples of post-war cars. Trucks exhibited range from 1907 to modern concept trucks. NATMATMUS (National Automotive & Truck Model & Toy Museum) is a museum within a museum and features toy and model cars and trucks – ranging from 1894 to the present.
Hours: March – November – Open 7 days, 9am – 5pm. December, January & February: Thursday & Friday 11am- 5pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-5pm.
Admission: $8 adults, $4 ages 5-12. Children under 5, free.National Auto and Truck Museum (NATMUS), Road-Test.org

⇒ National Military History Center and the Kruse Automotive and Carriage Museum is also located in Auburn and has many displays including Military History and vehicles, Carl Casper Collection, Race Cars & Monster Trucks. The collection includes approximately 150 vehicles and hundreds of uniforms, weapons and smaller artifacts. The majority of this collection comes from the former Victory Memorial Museum that was located in Messancy, Belgium. This impressive collection of artifacts includes many rare and, sometimes, the only known surviving examples of certain pieces. [NationalMilitaryHistoryCenter.org]
Hours: Daily 9am – 5pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days.
Admission: Adults: $10, Seniors: $8Children 6-12: $6Veterans: $4

⇒ Early Ford V-8 Foundation & Museum [Fordv8Foundation.org] Celebrating the Ford Flathead V-8 – 1932-1953
Hours: Monday 9am – 3pm, Tuesday – Saturday 9am – 5pm. Closed Sunday

⇒ The Hoosier Air Museum [HoosierAirMuseum.org] consists of a 10,000 square-foot hanger which houses aircraft, a gift shop, various radial, in-line, and jet engines. Also included are aviation memorabilia, models and photographs. The Hoosier Air Museum is dedicated to preserving aviation history from its inception to the present day. The museum’s attached annex consists of a 6,375 square-foot facility that houses a banquet/reception hall, resource library and also includes additional aviation memorabilia, models and photographs.
Open: March 16 – December 14, Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 4pm
Admission: Adults $5.00* (see below)
Adults with a DeKalb County Museum Passport $4.00
Students ages 12 – 18 $4.00
Students and children ages 11 and under Free
Active Military in uniform Free

* With adult admission price of $5.00 you receive a “DeKalb County Museum Passport,” which entitles you
to receive discounts to the following five museums in the area:

  1. Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Automotive Museum in Auburn
  2. National Automotive and Truck Museum in Auburn
  3. National Military History Center in Auburn
  4. Kruse Automotive & Carriage Museum in Auburn
  5. Garrett Historical Railroad Museum in Garret

While we’re on the automotive subject, here’s a couple of popular attractions you can find down the road in Indianapolis…
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum (ACD), Road-Test.org⇒ Indianapolis Motor Speedway & Hall of Fame Museum – As motorsport enthusiasts’ we can’t help but place this attraction firmly at the top of the list. If you’re into motorsport at all, this should definitely be on your bucket-list. During the month of May this is THE place to be for all the racing action! Whether you go for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis or the events surrounding the Indy 500 – Practice, Carb Day, Pole Day, Legends Day or the big event itself – it’s an experience you’ll never forget. NOTE: 2016 will be the 100th running of the Indy 500 – if you’re putting this one on the old bucket list – 2016 would be the year to make it happen! www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com / www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/at-the-track/museum

⇒ Dallara IndyCar Factory – This lesser-known motorsport attraction offers gear-heads the chance to explore 23,000 square feet of interactive and hands-on exhibits and simulators centred around the technology and engineering of the world’s fastest sport. www.indycarfactory.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Iain Shankland

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