Walter P. Chrysler Museum Closes, But Did It Have To?

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
walter p chrysler museum closes but did it have to

Museums are among my favorite places in the world, but it was difficult to genuinely enjoy my last visit to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum on the Chrysler campus in Auburn Hills. That’s because it was indeed my last visit.

About 15 minutes after I left the museum on December 18th, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles closed it forever and began moving the vehicles to the Highland Park warehouse where Chrysler keeps its corporate car collection. The automaker has said the museum will be turned into office space.

It’s a shame FCA closed it; it’s a fine museum, particularly because of the many car companies, brands and nameplates in Chrysler’s history — including American Motors, going back to the original Rambler (which was produced by the Jeffery company at the turn of the last century).

A few months ago, the automaker announced the museum would be open to the public for a few more weekends before being turned into office space. That resulted in a surge in attendance, with 1,000 or more visitors arriving each day it was open. Normally, however, the museum — as good as it was — failed to attract large crowds.

My personal view is that as well curated and run as the WPC Museum was, it was never promoted properly. Across town, about two million people a year visit The Henry Ford complex, with many of them coming from out-of-town specifically to see the Driving America and Racing in America exhibits in the Henry Ford Museum. Offering discounted admission with a ticket stub from The Henry Ford could have drawn many of those car enthusiasts to the Auburn Hills museum.

There were some tourists on the last day, but the visitors seemed heavy with company employees and retirees. There was a bit of a funereal mood to the crowd. One employee who works at FCA headquarters was skeptical about the company’s stated plans for office space. He mentioned the address of a building FCA owns nearby that’s currently filled with unused office space (and is closer to the main headquarters building than the museum, which is literally on the back edge of the company’s property).

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Dec 28, 2016

    Chrysler won't exist for forever anyway, with Sergio replacing Chrysler products with Fiat-powered crapwagons. When the whole thing collapses, someone else will come in and scoop up the Jeep brand. Even Ram won't have a reason to exist by then.

  • Johnster Johnster on Dec 29, 2016

    I think about the now gone Briggs Cunningham Museum in Costa Mesa, or the down-sized remnants of Harrah's Automotive Museum in Reno, or even gone Towe Ford collection in Deer Lodge, Montana and get depressed. It's like we can't have nice things in America anymore.

  • Cardave5150 Why oh why are they resurrecting the ZDX name??? It’s not like the last one was anything other than an overpriced freak show. Just use 3 other random letters!
  • Gemcitytm Why does it seem every EV seems to have ridiculous amounts of power? Yes, I know they're heavier than ICE models but who on earth needs 708 HP? How about a nice, compact EV with, say, 250 HP and 350-400 mile range? Is that impossible with today's tech? (I currently drive a 148 HP Mazda 3 ICE and it has all the get-up-and-go I need.)
  • CEastwood I could have bought one of these if I had the cash in 76 for $1000 white , red interior , 3 speed stick with whitewalls/ wire hubcaps - it was mint and gone a day after I saw it . But the real catch that got away was an all original 69 green Camaro RS convertible 327 4 speed with 46K on the clock for 1800 that I saw a few months earlier . Young and poor was not a fun place to be !
  • KOKing I'm in an emissions check only state, and I'd trade that away for a safety check all day.
  • Bd2 The hybrid powertrain in the Sportage and Tucson are the ones to get.H/K should discontinue the base NA 2.5L powertrain and just build more of the hybrid.In the future, maybe offer a 2nd, more powerful hybrid (the hybrid 2.5) which will first arrive with the next Telluride/Palisade.Kia also needs to redo the front fascia for the Sportage's refresh.