A drive through history

The Hemken Collection antique auto museum in Williams is set to begin its 13th season on Friday, May 2, announced Ann Hemken.

The museum will be open from 1-5 p.m., said Hemken. Regular operating hours will be on Wednesdays and Fridays from 1-5 p.m. and at other times by special appointment.

The auto museum opened at its Williams’ Main Street location in 2002 and features 65 unrestored automobiles, most from the 1950s. The cars were collected by Daryl and Ann Hemken over a period of almost 50 years.

The oldest car in the collection – a 1914 Model T Roadster – was also Daryl Hemken’s very first acquisition. He had a fondness for convertibles and collected all the American marques from 1947 to 1948, explained Ann.

Ann Hemken shared her husband’s passion for automobiles and after his passing in 2005, she and her family have continued to keep his dream alive.

Today the names of some car brands on display at the Hemken Collection may sound unfamiliar. The reason is that in the early days of manufacturing, there were several hundred auto makers in America as opposed to only 14 car companies in existence today, explained Ann.

Today, the collection includes older brands known as Orphan Cars which are autos that are no longer manufactured. Some of those cars include Packards, Studebakers, Hudsons and Nashes. In addition, the museum houses a 1919 Stutz touring Phaeton made in Indianapolis, IN and was the company’s contribution to race cars, said Hemken.

A 1948 Playboy convertible is a treasured addition to the collection, said Ann Hemken. The museum’s roadster was #79 of the 97 autos manufactured in Buffalo, NY. With a retractable hardtop, it is very rare and one of only 35 still in existence, said Hemken.

Most of the museum’s first floor houses the functional autos which are driven to area celebrations and holiday events during the summer, said Hemken.

In anticipation of the museum’s 13th season, ten members of the North Iowa Association for the Preservation and Restoration of Antique Autos joined Hemken last week for some specialized housekeeping.

The volunteers wiped down the interior of the cars and brought the sparkle back to windshields, inside and out. They polished chrome, bringing it back to its original luster – and on these cars, that is no small task as chrome was an intricate part of the vehicle’s design. Finally, the massive auto bodies were dusted, said Hemken.

To mark the 51st year of the Hemken Collection, free pie and coffee will be served on opening day, said Hemken.

For more information, visit www.the-hemken-collection.org.