The National Automotive and Truck Museum

It’s a safe bet that you’ll see plenty of cars and trucks at the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States (NATMUS), situated in Auburn, Indiana, but there’s a lot more in store, too. There’s a museum within the museum dedicated to toys. Of course, there’s a gift store in store for you, too.

The buildings that house NATMUS were once buildings actually put to work by the automotive industry. Errett Lobban “EL” Cord used the Service Building, built in 1923, to test drive his famous 810-812 Cord automobiles. Each one guaranteed to reach speeds of over 100 miles per hour (mph), Cords were autographed by Ab Jenkens, the race-car driver who tested each one and indicated on its autograph plate how fast he’d driven the individual vehicle. Auto repairs and maintenance were done in the Service Building and parts where shipped from here to dealers and distributed around the world.

The L29 / Experimental Building, dating from 1928, was used to assemble the L29 Cord and the first 100 812 Cords were hand-assembled here on the ground floor. Other legendary autos, including the Duesenberg, were created here, too.

Also a part of the museum is the Eckhart Building, once home of the Eckhart Carriage Company, where buggies were built before the building was used to assemble Auburn Automobiles. This building, which provides an interpretive history of the early days of the automotive industry, is used for special events only.

In spite of its solid background in the earliest years of automotive history, the NATMUS’ main focus is on vehicles built after World War II. One very popular display is the Cars of the 50s, situated in the Larry Randolph Gallery. Here the visitor will find cars and trucks of the era plus music, fads, fashions, and other memorabilia that made the 1950s so unique.

A 1953 GM Futurliner, a bus designed by Harley Earl, who was instrumental in the design and development of the Chevrolet Corvette, is on permanent display at NATMUS. This particular vehicle was restored and converted into a motor home in just the last decade.

The 45 vintage trucks on display range from one built in 1907 to one-of-a-kind modern concept trucks. The 75 classic automobiles span the automotive bridge from the 1940s to the 1970s. 

Vehicles from the International Automobile Company, which is now International Trucks, are housed at NATMUS, too. The 1909 Autowagon starts the show but models extending into the 1990s and some one-of-a-kind prototypes are also here. Look for the Endeavor, which held the world land speed record for a diesel-powered truck from 1992 through 2000. This vehicle reached 226 mph at the Bonneyville Salt Flats test area.

Only at NATMUS will you find three original vehicles that participated in the famed La Carrera Panamericana race across Mexico. This celebration of the opening of the Pan-American Highway began in 1950 with a starting point in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico, and ended at the Texas border. The Mexican government put the brakes on the race in 1954 but its lure never died. In 1988, some of the original drivers rallied together for a repeat performance and races are now held every year, as they once were. No other location in America has so many original La Carrera race cars on display.

Don’t leave without taking a leisurely and amusing walk through the NATMUS National Automotive & Truck Model & Toy Museum, where you’ll find hundreds of model cars and trucks as well as toy trucks and cars of all kinds. This part of the museum puts smiles on the faces of the young and young at heart.

Find NATMUS at 1000 Gordon M. Buehrig Place in Auburn, located about 30 miles south of Indiana toll road I-69 or just more than a two-hour drive north from Indianapolis.  Museum hours are 9:00 AM till 5:00 PM, every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Every Wednesday, residents of DeKalb County, Indiana, get in free but must provide proof of residency. On other days, adult admission is $7.00 and $4.00 for children aged 6 to 12. Children 5 and younger never pay admission to NATMUS.

The educational value of NATMUS is impressive and school groups are welcome. Arrangements must be made in advance but admission fees are waived for school groups from DeKalb County; all others must pay $1.00 per student.

Adult group tours are encouraged, too. Advance arrangements are required and admission is only $5.00 per person.

Special discounts of $1.00 off regular admission is available to anyone with a AAA Show Your Card & Save Program or those with a DeKalb County Museum Passport.


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