The Car Museum’s building is as much a part of car history as any of the things you’ll find inside. The original owners of the building began with a bike shop, but in 1913 they learned they would soon be in spitting distance of the first transcontinental highway made just for automobiles (a highway which lives on today as US-30, which is still only half a mile south of the museum). As a result, the owners quickly switched gears and started peddling cars instead. The business quickly grew to become the largest Ford dealership in the nation, although it folded when the Great Depression hit in 1929. It remained empty for a few decades after that, but in 1978 the present owners bought the place and turned it into the museum you can visit today.
The Canton Classic Car Museum has more than just cars, but then it also definitely has cars. The oldest model they have on display is a 1901 Curved Dash Oldsmobile, and its design really lets you understand why one of the old names for autos was “horseless carriage.” The Olds really is nothing more than an expensive carriage with all the latest technology: a sputtering engine with a hand crank, the latest in bicycle tires, and leather upholstery (because some things never change). The museum’s collection includes seven cars built right in Canton, back before Detroit became Motor City. Other rare sights include a ’37 Packard hearse with mahogany panels, an amphibious Amphicar of the 60s, and an absolutely tiny 1957 VW Isetta, which is so small they had to put the door on the front instead of the side.
Between all the vehicles and filling up all the walls and display cases is a seemingly endless supply of memorabilia, kitsch, and unusual artifacts from every era of 20th century America and beyond. Vintage toy cars and trucks are everywhere, you can find a pair of old Sinclair Dino gas pumps at one end of the building, and you won’t be able to count all the posters and signs that cover the walls. The collection also includes more than a few items which have less to do with cars and more to do with times gone by. The Canton Classic Car Museum is open from 10am to 5pm every day of the week, and tickets for adults are $7.50. If you plan on only going once, then you should plan on getting there as early as possible. Crowding may or may not be an issue, depending on when you stop by, but you’ll need all seven hours if you want enough time to fully appreciate all the items that the museum has to offer.