Gateway Auto Museum, A Distinctive Piece of Americana

June 7th, 2011

There’s something particularly apropos about a winding drive down a scenic highway—to a place less traveled, to visit, an Auto Museum. Driving the open road to a far off destination is something truly American. Happening upon an auto museum, while documenting my road trip travels, seems just a bit serendipitous.

My destination…Gateway, Colorado.  The location…Gateway Canyons Resort, where you’ll find the Gateway Auto Museum…a pleasantly unexpected attraction.  Whether you’re a classic car buff or not, everyone will enjoy and appreciate this outstanding collection of American history—which spans 100 years and encapsulates each era with remarkable detail.

Most people would expect to be impressed by all the wonderful cars, and while that alone will satisfy most, I took particular interest in the precision of the detail.  The Museum is the wrapping paper & bow of a much anticipated gift. There are several galleries within the Museum, each painstakingly presented to give the visitor a real sense of what it would have been like to be in that era. There are interactive displays, signage from the period, various props like ol’ gas pumps, and even a 50s diner.  Each automobile is artfully displayed with strategic spotlights accenting the lines that made these cars instant classics.  This museum celebrates the history, design and social significance that defined a nation, a nation that is distinctly, American.


With approximately 50 cars always on display, it takes a 30,000 square foot facility to house them all.  What makes this collection even more impressive is that it’s a private one.  All the cars at the Gateway Auto Museum are from the personal collection of John Hendricks (founder of the Discovery channel) and his family.

The prized possession in the Hendricks Collection is the one-of-a-kind 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 concept car designed by Harley Earl. Not only does this car have the distinction of being a part of American automotive auction history (sold for $3.24m), it’s considered one of America’s finest examples of rolling art to emerge from the post-war era.  The story behind why this car didn’t make it to production, and how this particular one survived is quite fascinating, but you’ll have to visit the Gateway Auto Museum to learn about it.

The collection is arranged in a Timeline that captures 100 years of American automotive history… from the 1906 Cadillac Coupe, to the 2006 Stallion Mustang. As you stroll the museum, you’ll soon realize…this is no ordinary auto museum—it’s one part history lesson, one part social importance, and one part enthusiastic jubilation.

From the moment you take a step back in time in the Open Road Theater, listening to Walter Cronkite talk about the American Automobile and its place in society—to the video clip showing the acquisition of the F-88 Concept Car—it’s obvious that this is a special place.

“People experienced cars as magic machines that provoked dreams of adventure on the open road,” John Hendricks

Museum Hours:

Open Sunday – Thursday 10am to 5pm; Friday – Saturday 10am to 7pm.  I would recommend 2-3 hours to fully enjoy the entire museum.

Location:

Nestled in the canyons of Western Colorado in. Gateway—one hour southwest of Grand Junction along the scenic and Historic Byway 141.

Pictures:

Click the following link to see more of my pictures at the Gateway Auto Museum.

If you’ve been to the Gateway Auto Museum before, please post a comment below.  If you’ve enjoyed this post, please click the “like” or “share” buttons below and share with your friends and family.

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8 Responses to: “Gateway Auto Museum, A Distinctive Piece of Americana”

  1. Jeff says:

    Mike, This is a really nice expose on the Gateway Museum! Thanks for posting, I’ll refer my friends to your site.
    All the best, Jeff

  2. Hey, thanks so much Jeff! Really appreciate it. And, thanks for helping spread the word! Cheers, Mike

  3. Dave Pool says:

    Found your post via a re-tweet by Edmunds of the message you sent them. Nice story here. And, for many of us who religiously watch the Barrett-Jackson auctions on Speed, the sale of that 1954 Olds F-88 concept car will forever remain imprinted, as that was the lot that pitted Alan Lewenthal (aka “The guy in the Ferrari cap”), who was bidding on behalf of Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks, against one of B-J’s better customers (whose name I’ve forgotten). Epic stuff, that!

  4. Hey Dave…thanks for posting. One of my best friends told me of a similar story…he too was at the BJ auction and recalls this car being sold. Very cool place if you ever get a chance to go there. Cheers, Mike

  5. [...] a separate post and video to it.  Click the following link to see pictures and video of the Gateway Auto Museum. It’s difficult not to use every cliché imaginable to describe the Gateway Canyons Resort; [...]

  6. [...] an auto museum, while documenting my road trip travels, seems just a bit serendipitous…Read the entire review at Mike's Road Trip. Museum Hours: Open Sunday – Thursday 10am to 5pm; Friday – Saturday 10am to 7pm.  I would [...]

  7. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the video. I had the opportunity to visit this amazing museum last week for the first time. I will revisit many more times. I suspect I’ll never stop wanting to go back. I was in awe every moment of the visit.

  8. Hey Jeff…yeah, it’s a wonderful museum! I’d love to go back soon myself. Did you stay there at the resort too? It’s quite a place. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. Cheers, Mike

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