Saying goodbye can be a hard thing to do sometimes, from saying goodbye to a treasured toy, to even a loved one, the act can be tough for all parties involved. This was the case with us and the Walter P. Chrysler Museum. Nestled in the grounds of the Chrysler Tech Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan, this small museum boasted a big car collection, and it did an excellent job showcasing Chrysler’s storied history. Built in October 1999 during the turbulent Daimler-Chrysler era, the museum housed many historic vehicles from Chrysler’s past, and also highlighted vehicles from AMC, Hudson, Nash, Rambler and many other brands. The museum originally closed its doors in December of 2012, but eventually resumed being open albeit on limited weekends a few years later.
However the quest for corporate expansion, as well as dwindling attendance compelled FCA to recently reveal that it was shuttering the museum for good. Before the doors were closed to the public forever, we took sometime to visit the museum on both of its final days to take in the sights and sounds one final time.
Walking through the doors and paying the reasonably priced $10.00 admission fee, you are immediately greeted by the Chrysler Thunderbolt concept and its equally striking counterpart the Desoto Newport concept. It also reminds you of how intimate the space is with both floors split into separate time periods that highlight key moments in Chrysler history. A highlight feature for us was the centrally placed tower that housed the Dodge Razor, Plymouth Pronto, and Chrysler Slingshot concepts. It served as a prominent visual point in the building, and also helps bring the two floors together at the same time.
Amid all the slick sheet metal and eye candy there were also signs of just how dated some of the interactive exhibits were, which was mostly due to limited funding versus any lack of effort. The Gadgets, Gimmicks, & Bright Shiny Chrome interactive booth (pictured) was a notable example, with the display being (perhaps ironically) out of order during both of my visits.
But words can only do so much to describe the unique ambiance that this special institution held especially in the hearts of automotive enthusiasts. So scroll through this extensive collection of images below, and relive the magic that this special institution possessed one final time.
A special thank you to our friends at the Jaguar Affiliates Group of Michigan for their assistance in the creation of this article.