The roar of an engine and the smell of leather and rubber take me back to my childhood and my grandfather's classic car. As a child, I enjoyed rides around the neighborhood in grandpa's blue 1967 Chevy Impala. While I haven't been able to join grandpa for a thrill-ride for quite some time, my appreciation for classic and antique cars remains. If you're like me, and classic and antique automobiles bring up memories of life's special moments, hit the highway for one of these Iowa car museums.
1.) Antique Car Museum- Coralville
Priding itself in educating visitors about the history of transportation, the Antique Car Museum in Coralville is home to more than 90 different automobiles. The vintage vehicles date from 1889 to the 1970s. Many are in pristine condition, with many of their bells and whistles – literally – still intact. A rare treat for auto lovers.
2.) The Hemken Collection, Williams
The more than 20,000-square-foot showroom at the Hemken Collection in Williams, features 50 different classic cars. Daryl Hemken started his collection in the 1950s thanks to his special interest in automobiles from the 1940s. The collection focuses on conservation rather than restoration, so the cars are as close to original condition as possible. While only 50 cars are on display at a time, the collection has 100 different cars, making it an ever-changing exhibit.
3.) National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum, Knoxville
Come early or stick around after the big race to explore the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum in Knoxville. The world’s only museum dedicated to preserving the history of “big car” and sprint car racing honors the sport’s drivers and beautifully displays retired sprint cars and related memorabilia. Located literally steps from the museum, the renowned Knoxville Raceway hosted its first automobile race in 1901 and currently offers a calendar full of racing events, including the world famous Knoxville National every August.
4.) Iowa 80 Trucking Museum, Walcott
A passion for collecting antique trucks turned into an impressive public display of more than 60 rare, one-of-a-kind trucks that date to 1910. Bill Moon, the chief collector and founder of the nearby Iowa 80 Truckstop, shares his collection to educate visitors on the evolution and impact of the tracking industry. Visitors can enjoy a short film about trucking history in the museum’s REO theater.
5.) R & S Auto Sales, Corning
Whether you’re into cars from the 1960s or classic roadsters are more your thing, there is plenty to see (with no obligation to buy) at R & S Auto Sales in Corning. Stop in and admire the wide collection of classic automobiles. If you’re in the spending mood, and a car suits your fancy, buy it! If not, leave with lasting memories of yesteryear.