Pontiac, the brand, may be dead, but the legacy of Pontiac lives on in stunning fashion at the Pontiac Oakland Museum in Pontiac, IL. (That’s right, IL, not MI) See some of the beauties we found on our visit…
When the last Pontiacs rolled off the assembly line in late 2009, it was the end of quite a legacy… The Pontiac brand left behind nearly a century of some of America’s favorite cars. From the beautiful convertibles of the 40s to the terrifyingly wicked GTO “Judge” to the Bandit’s black and gold Trans-Am, Pontiac had cemented itself in the automotive world, and then it was all over.
Thankfully, world-renown Pontiac expert and collector Tim Dye has come together with the City of Pontiac to build a showcase to the car brand so many of you remember from your rowdier days of cruising the town. Last fall we had the opportunity to tour the Pontiac Oakland Museum in Pontiac, IL, and it did not disappoint…
We know what you’re thinking… “Why the heck is it in Pontiac, IL and not Pontiac, MI- the town the car was named for?” So glad you asked…
As Dye was on his way home to Oklahoma after a Pontiac car show outside Chicago, he saw the highway signs for the little town of Pontiac, IL. Of course, he just had to check it out…
Unlike Pontiac, MI, Pontiac, IL is a tourist town with its location on historic Route 66 bringing thousands through each year, and after talking with the International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museumdirector, Kristen Arbogast, Dye suggested the city reach out if they ever wanted to put together a Pontiac automobile museum. Long story short, Pontiac Mayor Robert Russell, City Administrator Bob Karls, and the Dyes (with the help of lots of friends and city residents) put together a museum in Pontiac, IL that would make any GTO-lover green with envy.
The first thing we noticed on our visit is the keen attention to presentation. Most car “museums” these days are really just car dealerships/consignment stores or personal collections that charge an admission to make a little extra money. The Pontiac Oakland Museum, however, is put together with thoughtful and deliberate attention to detail. Take these two displays, for example:
The same mayor that convinced Dye to come to town was also our tour guide through the town and the Pontiac Oakland Museum. At his convincing, Dye took a group of us to the basement where the rest of his insanely massive oil can collection is displayed as well as more “behind the scenes” artifacts. This little extra tour will normally set you back $5. (Not for us this time… after all, we had the mayor with us- you know, VIP style.)
The cars on display change from time to time as Dyes collection continually expands, but just as impressive as the collection itself is the vast Pontiac research library. Assembled with the sophistication and charm of an antique reading room at a Carnegie-era library, the Pontiac Oakland Museum’s research center is the perfect place for anyone searching for more information about a specific car or the brand in general.
The Pontiac Oakland Museum is one of many gems in what I consider to be Illinois’s most wonderful Route 66 town. Whether you’re a Pontiac fanatic, general car-lover, or just a curious tourist, the Pontiac Oakland Museum is a must-see on your Mother Road journey.
Pontiac Oakland Museum
205 N. Mill Street
Pontiac, IL 61764