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Stop Whatever You’re Doing and Make Plans to See the GM Heritage Center’s Dazzling Collection of Classic Cars

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The Firebird III gas turbine concept car is one of the many historic vehicles on display at the GM Heritage Center
Photo: Tino Rossini

With its rotating display of fascinating vintage vehicles, the General Motors Heritage Center is a treasure trove for GM car fans and auto history buffs.

There’s just one catch: This private collection is hidden away in an industrial park north of Detroit in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and visits are by appointment only.

The GM Heritage Center’s collection includes about 700 cars. A climate-controlled showroom displays them 165 at a time. GM’s archives are also housed at the Heritage Center, preserving the entire history of the automaker through historical documents, vehicle information, artifacts, photos, videos, and more.

The cars exhibited at the Heritage Center are chosen for their historical significance and are labeled with information about their context and impact. Many of the vehicles on display are GM icons, while others demonstrate how automotive technology and design developed or represent key points in GM history.

A display at the GM Heritage Center traces the development of the Chevrolet Suburban
Photo: Tino Rossini

The rotating nature of the Heritage Center’s displays means visitors are likely to see something different each time. Here’s just a sampling of the vehicles that guests might encounter:

  • The 1903 Oldsmobile Curved Dash runabout, the world’s first mass-produced vehicle
  • The 1912 Cadillac Model 30, the first car to use an electric starter
  • The 1915 Cadillac Type 51, which held the world’s first mass-produced V8 engine
  • The 1938 Buick Y-Job, the auto industry’s first concept car
  • The one millionth Cadillac ever built: a 1949 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
  • A rare 1953 Chevrolet Corvette — from the iconic sports car’s first production year
  • Futuristic Firebird I, II, and II gas turbine concept autos from the 1950s
  • The 1964 Pontiac Tempest LeMans GTO, one of the original muscle cars
  • A 1969 512 Electric Experimental car, which looks a lot like today’s Smart Cars
  • The 1987 Buick Regal GNX, one of the fastest production cars of the 1980s

News Sources: Detroit Free Press, GM Heritage Center