Day Seven. The end of our road trip was nigh. Eight hours and 500+ miles separated us from home, but the vacation wasn’t over yet. In the past we’ve always felt let down when our final day’s stops were just for food, gas, and bathrooms. That’s no fun, memorable way to conclude your year’s best adventure. This time we founds a few notable places along the way that we’d overlooked in previous years. One of them was full of cars.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.
Northwest of Chicago in a tiny town called Roscoe is Historic Auto Attractions, a warehouse-sized museum containing over 75 automobiles of historical significance and/or pop-culture renown, a selection of genuine famous artifacts, and some wax figures and animal taxidermy for value-added tourist ambiance. Its owner, Wayne Lensing, is an auto parts manufacturer, a former auto racer, and a determined collector who knows what he wants.
We’ve seen twins/triplets of a few of the cars on display elsewhere — a Back to the Future DeLorean, an ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters, etc. — but some of these aren’t as common on the geek convention circuit. Others are one-of-a-kind vehicles that once carried popular and/or powerful personalities to and from wherever they demanded to go.
Some of the most famous cars on display:
Movie props and real-life memorabilia are kept behind glass cases surrounding the cars all over the museum. Even if cars don’t impress you on principle, artifacts just might. The following are a fraction of a fraction of the exhibits:
To his credit, Lensing’s collection of Kennedy items is the largest we’ve seen since our visit to Dallas’ Sixth Floor Museum during our 2005 road trip.
We took a few photos of the stuffed animals and wax celebrities , but I can’t say they were our primary objective. Like, at all. Random example:
And then there those famous historical transports I mentioned. At least one of them wasn’t a car, but to be honest, it’s also just a training module. Well, “just” may be unfair. Even the training version of a space capsule is hardly ordinary.
Also not ordinary: real Presidential limousines. Sadly, no joyrides allowed.
Racing fans may recognize a few of these salvaged cars. Past a certain point I stopped taking notes. I grew up not far from the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway, so I’m a bit dense when it comes to other racing leagues.
If you’re a dictator looking to ride in style while oppressing the masses under your unforgiving thumb, you could do worse than Joseph Stalin’s 1937 Packard Super 12.
One of Hitler’s staff car, a 1939 Mercedes G4. If it’s okay with you, I’m not even gonna try captioning this.
As Historic Auto Attractions says, so say we all.
Mandatory moment of whimsical impulse, because I’d much rather end on that kind of note.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]