3/26/2018 9:34:00 AM Local dentist turns Oldsmobile collection into museum
A new Robinson tourist attraction features the 30 year collection of Oldsmobile cars and memorabilia. Dr. Pat McMillan’s museum located on South Howard. across from Neihaus Lumber, features cars dating back to 1917 with a number of classics from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. (Tom Compton photo)
A local dentist has turned his 30 year collection of Oldsmobile cars and memorabilia into a museum in Robinson.
Dr. Pat McMillan's first car was 1964 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88. He was 17, and the more he learned about the car and Oldsmobiles the more he fell in love. As time passed he became involved with the Oldsmobile Club of America, began collecting cars and buying and selling parts.
Several years ago he purchased the old lumberyard build across from Niehaus Lumber to store part of his collection. The idea of opening a museum took on life and instead of building a new building they began remodeling the exiting one. In January they opened for tours.
The Olds Motor Vehicle Company was founded in 1897 and continued production under the umbrella of the General Motors Company until 2004 when the line was discontinued. Over the years the Oldsmobiles had a reputation of being big, fast and sleek, and developed their own following.
From the outside the museum still looks like the railroad loading dock and storage warehouse it once was, but inside the twinkle of lights off of polished chrome and steel come to life and bring back memories.
The single walk through door on the north side of the south building leads to a room that features showcases full of Oldsmobile advertising, dealer memorabilia, and specialty parts. From there you step through the turnstile and are greeted by vintage steel and class.
Visitors will see the oldest complete Oldsmobile in the collection a 1919 Model 37P touring car with original paint. McMillan does have a 1917, but it is a long way from a finished restoration.
You are soon captured by a line of '50s, '60s, and '70s Oldsmobiles of all size and style. What makes them special is the story that goes with each one. One is a 1959 driven by a little old lady school teacher a whole 9,500 miles. The car was a sport model with the big engine and an eye catching two-tone turquoise and white paint scheme.
Next to a pair of Starfires is a Starfire bowling game. McMillan said they had it at his home for several years until his wife said it was time to go.
Another car in the collection is a fully restored 1975 Delta 88 convertible that once belonged to hardware store giant John Menard. Across the way is the classic 1973 Vista Cruiser station wagon with third row seat and clamshell roof glass.
Oldsmobiles were used as pace cars several times at the Indianapolis 500. McMillan has several of the replicas in his collection including a Bravada track truck that was restored by an Indianapolis dealer.
Oldsmobile only made trucks from 1919 to 1923, and McMillan has two 1919 trucks. One is a show winning delivery van and the other an eight-way bed farm style truck.
In 1966, Oldsmobile produced the first front wheel drive production car, the Toronado. Other vehicles had tested the idea but Toronado was the first factory production. At the time it was thought the frame could not hold up to the torque of a front wheel drive system. But designer David North proved them wrong. McMillan said he got to meet North.
The automobile restoration industry is big. Improved technology like MIG and TIG welding along with CNC machines have given craftsmen and mechanics the ability to remake and restore a number of no longer made parts. But restoration work is still expensive. "Chrome work is out of sight," said McMillian.
McMillan ships new old stock parts all over the world. "Norway, Sweden and New Zealand are big markets for Oldsmobiles," he said.
Through his connections with the Oldsmobile Club of America, McMillan is always looking to add to his collection. He prefers low mileage originals and also well-restored cars.
In 1973 Oldsmobile made the Omega hatchback with a custom tent package. McMillan says he has a tent package, but most of the cars have long rusted away. He is still looking though.
The museum also features several dealer and advertising signs. "When Oldsmobile went out of business, the signs had to be removed, unfortunately the sign guys had to use a hammer to remove most of them." said McMillan.
Other signs however were never used and stored away or taken home by mechanics for their own shops or garages.
The museum located at 500 S. Howard, Robinson, is open most Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. As interest picks up McMillan plans to add more items and rotate vehicles to keep it fresh and exciting.
To schedule additional visits or for more information about the Oldsmobile museum, cars or parts email McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Article comment by:
Nice article. Grew up in Robinson in the 60's. Remember their was a kid in our class named Larry Olds, and that he was somehow related to the Olds family. They moved before we graduated if I remember correctly. Two of the best cars I ever owned was a 442 and an Aurora.
Will definitely visit this museum on my next trip back to Robinson.