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Days off 1: Canton Classic Car Musuem
July 22, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
Today was the first day of a few days off, and the third consecutive summer of Tours Put Together by The Boss (at Home) That Don’t Involve Flying or Overnight Hotel Stays.
Yeah, I know, newspapers coined the term “One Tank Trips” for these years ago, but it’s like a quarter tank in Mr. Sulu the Civic.
The way these work is this: We get up, The Boss spends time on a laptop or her trusty iPhone and then puts us in the car and starts driving (I’ve found it’s better to let her drive than for her to give me instructions. And I hate driving most of the time nowadays anyway.)
Today led us to the Canton Classic Car Museum, 123 Sixth St., SW, near the city police station, a block or so off the center of downtown.
The museum, which features about 40 or so classic cars, most of which date from the big luxury car era of the 1930s, is in an old Ford dealership. By old, I mean, Model T era. Early Model T era, as in, it was the top Model T dealer in the nation nearly 100 years ago. Surprisingly, the cars were shipped in pieces by rail and final assembly and prep was done in an upstairs area of the garage.
The museum has more V-12 and V-16-powered luxury cars in one place than I’ve ever seen before, including a couple huge mid-1930s Cadillacs and Packards and Lincolns, as well as a unique pair on display: A Packard flower car and hearse that would have led funeral processions in the late 1930s and into the 1940s. The hearse has exquisite wood-carved sides that depict the curtains on old-fashioned horse-drawn hearses. there’s also a room with cars of the 1950s and 1960s and an amazingly well-preserved 1970 Plymouth SuperBird, the winged and slope-nosed Road Runner-cum-NASCAR warrior.
There’s also a Cord 810 convertible, the only one I ever remember seeing in person. I was impressed both by its stark beauty, coming as it did during an era of chrome and Art Deco overdesign, and its astonishing small size.
Did I mention the hulking giant fire engine with a massive pump and big chrome pressure dome mounted out on its nose?
Around the cars is what makes the museum stand out from other places where rows of classic cars are displayed. There is humorous whimsy in various dipslays, as well as an incredible, seemingly endless amount of everything from antique radios to toys to hood ornaments to household stuff, signs, posters, you name it. Amazing collections of stuff, not all of it auto related.
Oh, and there’s this really, really cool 1937 armored Studebaker police car that technically is still available to the Canton Police Department. It’s got bulletproofing good for up to a .45-caliber bullet, and gun ports in the thick bulletproof glass windows. Imposing, to say the least.
And there’s the helpful and gracious staff that makes you feel welcome. Curator Jim Lee is nice enough talk with visitors who are waiting out a rainstorm before departing, and the director, Char Lautzenheiser, makes sure you know other points of interest in the area to see.
The Boss followed that up with a visit to the Hartville Kitchen (where three can eat for 40 bucks and be stuffed to the gills), and its Thomas Kincaid gallery. (Yes, you can be one of those who tear him down for his personal troubles. I find his art to be uplifting). There’s art from a variety of other artists, too.
Factor in some homemade pie and fudge to take home and it was a good start to the week.
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A view of the 1937 armored Studebaker police car in the Canton Classic Car Museum. (Sorry photo resulting from using crappy Motorola phone camera. Oops.)