FLINT: The Other Motor City

9 Oct

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There were only a few days left to catch the “Muscle Car” exhibit at the Sloan Museum in Flint, so we headed north to Flint‘s Cultural center for a fun-filled afternoon. The museum itself celebrates Flint’s glory days; from lumber center and birthplace of GM to home of Buick and AC Spark Plug. At one time GM employed over 80,000 people in its Flint plants. This was the land of the famous sit-down strike of 1936-37 that was vital in forming the UAW. Sloan takes us through 20th century history in Flint and the region. The museum also hosts traveling exhibits in its temporary gallery, so it’s nice to stop in every now and then.

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The displays had been changed up since our last visit; Carol Churchill Pierson’s Doll collection filled the first few rooms. A portion of these amazing dolls were purchased by the owner on her travels; others were commissioned by artists and respected doll makers to create historical figures. Free standing display cases line the walls, scenes are of significant historical events in period settings, dolls depicting famous figures teach us about important events in history. I have to admit my favorite ones were the “First Ladies”, the attention to detail is exquisite; beautiful gowns, fancy hairdo’s and even fur coats, I’d bet these are the ones most little girls would love to play with! 

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We moved on to the next gallery, this one is a real attention-getter, especially if you are male. The Muscle Car display features ten vehicles that epitomize the Muscle Car era; a 1970 Hemi Superbird is stunning  in Lime Light, you can’t help but be drawn over to it with its bright color, nose cone, rear wing and of course, the Road Runner on the side. You may not think of silver as a typical muscle car color, but this 1964 Pontiac GTO  with a red interior is a subtle beauty. The horsepower wars had started much earlier, the 1957 Chrysler 300 C has a 392 Hemi that puts out 390 horsepower that’s powerful even by today’s standards. We checked out the 1969 Chevy Nova with a 396, a deep blue 1965 Olds Cutlass 442, a 1969 Hemi Charger R/T, blue with a white top and stripe and another car I’ve always liked, a 1970 AMX in Big Bad Green. Kris was definitely in his element here; he has always liked cars, this era being one of his favorites. When it comes to Muscle Cars anything goes; color is key, you could get almost any color on the exterior including pink and purple. The interiors were not left out; red, orange, green and blue could be had along with patterns like hounds-tooth and plaid, how cool! There were fake side-pipes, hood scoops, bold stripes and most importantly the size of your engine called out with decals or emblems. The space is complimented by the poster-size ads that hang on the walls; these are typical advertising tools used back in the day. The whole exhibit was very well done, we’re so glad we got a chance to see it.

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The 20th Century Gallery is home to “Flint and the American Dream”; over 600 artifacts including photographs, period clothing, signs  household furnishings and vintage cars take us through time and show us what life was like in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, it’s fabulous. We enjoy this section each and every time we come; eye-catching displays submerge us back in time, well-written descriptions explain what was going on at the time both in Flint and America. We learn about the birth of the UAW and Flint’s role as the Arsenal of Democracy; the 20th century was a time of big changes both good and bad. 

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Just a short walk about 1 block east from the Sloan Museum is the Buick Automotive Gallery, your paid admission gets you into both buildings. This facility houses  80 Flint-built automobiles with up to 30 on exhibit at any given time. The building is also used for restoration of vehicles and houses Sloan Museum’s Perry Archives. With that out of the way, let me say, this place is amazing. Many of the cars here are prototypes, you’ve never seen anything like ’em. Plenty of 50’s Ultra-cool, space age styling; one, the “Wildcat II” looks like Buick’s version of a Corvette, gorgeous! Another, the Centurian would look right at home in Buck Rogers garage; in addition to an all plexiglass roof, it even has a backup camera…These cars must be worth a fortune. Cars throughout Buick’s history are represented here including a Hellcat Tank Destroyer from WWII, along with plenty of automotive memorabilia. A replica of a 1940’s soda fountain sits near the back, have a seat and relax with a glass bottle of Coke, neat-o. Be sure and check it out!

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The Flint Crepe Company is located on S. Saginaw Street downtown; small cafe tables and chairs are set up outside, the window invites you to partake in both sweet and savory crepes. Inside tiny white lights hang from the ceiling, work by local artists decorate the walls, mmmmmmm, the coffee smells great! The menu is substantial, pick one from the list or create your own, they all look delicious. Since we were both extremely hungry we chose the Reuben and the Monte Cristo; one of the many things I like about crepes is they are quick to make. Before we knew it plates arrived; the Monte Cristo was loaded with ham, turkey, cheese and a touch  of jam for a little sweetness, delicious. The Reuben as you can imagine was filled with shaved corned beef and sauerkraut topped with a wonderful sauce, excellent. The crepe itself had a nice flavor and was nice and tender. Our plan was to have the savory and then the sweet, but we simply had no room left for the sweet, next time. They also serve Zingerman’s coffee and espresso, a perfect match for a crepe. If you visit on a Tuesday all tips are donated to a local charity, a different one each week; they definitely support the local community.

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Before getting back in the car we took a walk around downtown to get a look at some of the historic architecture; we were in and out of several buildings, Bank of America has an awesome space with a great lobby. Heading back, we passed a parking lot off of Saginaw and Kearsley that was playing host to the 6th Annual Bikes on the Bricks. Friday was their practice day and open to the public; we stood on the sidewalk, sort of stopped in our tracks by the sight of so many police on Harley Davidson motorcycles driving around orange cones. We spotted open bleacher seating near the track and had to get a closer look. Basically the event is a skills competition open to active uniformed police officers and their motorcycles, it’s quite a sight! Throughout the lot challenging skill courses are set up using bunches of those infamous orange traffic cones. As we sat and looked out it was difficult to figure out what the participant was supposed to do; once a rider took his bike through the course it all made sense. To our right was a spiral course, you know, like if you took a cinnamon roll and loosely unrolled it; they start in the center and work their way outward trying their best to leave all cones standing. The speed and agility of some of the riders was impressive, then there was the guy who not only knocked over several cones, but ran one over and dragged it across the track, that was funny! Police forces from all over attended, we saw officers from the Michigan State Police, Rochester, Southgate, Toronto, St. Paul, Detroit, Ottawa and Flint. As time went on they attracted quite a crowd, these guys have skills!

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One Response to “FLINT: The Other Motor City”

  1. amcjavelin74 February 10, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    Reblogged this on loveforallthingsmotor and commented:
    Ther pictures here, of the styling concept cars at the Sloan Museum in Flint, MI are inspiring to me- perhaps I should put together a book on the classics that could have been- but are largely unknown.

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