Auto Hall of Fame wants to move to downtown Detroit

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

The Automotive Hall of Fame wants to move to the heart of the Motor City.

President Bill Chapin said Thursday night that he’s putting together a team to look into moving the center from Dearborn to downtown Detroit. Its current home is next to The Henry Ford at 21400 Oakwood Blvd.

No details on timing or potential locations were available.

The Automobile Hall of Fame was founded in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair. It moved to Washington, D.C., in 1960. It moved to the grounds of Northwood Institute in Midland in 1971. It moved to its present 25,000-square-foot Dearborn location in 1997.

It includes permanent and rotating exhibits about the history of the automobile industry.

Billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert has repeatedly said he wants some sort of auto-themed attraction in downtown Detroit.

In 2014, Gilbert’s real estate company purchased the empty State Savings Bank at 151 W. Fort, and the managing partner of the Toronto firm that sold it said Gilbert would open a “Detroit car museum” there. At the time, Bedrock did not release any official plans for the building, and it remains empty today.

A Bedrock spokeswoman said Friday they have not been contacted by the Automotive Hall of Fame, but they are “thrilled they want to move downtown and would love to work with them.”

Chapin’s comments came at the end of the 2016 Hall of Fame induction ceremony that included the following people: former Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally; safety advocate Ralph Nader; Roy Lunn, engineer of the Ford GT40 that swept the podium at the 1966 Le Mans race; and Bertha Benz, wife and business partner to Karl Benz, founder of the German automaker Mercedes-Benz.

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