The Canal Winchester Times

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Automotive Museum is culmination of a dream

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The long-anticipated Bob McDorman Automotive Museum held its ribbon-cutting ceremony July 2, and is all revved up for its grand opening weekend.

It has been about two years since McDorman announced his plans to retire from being a Chevrolet dealer and build his dream: a standalone automotive museum based around his renowned Corvette collection, other rare makes and models and his significant collection of automotive memorabilia.

Starting July 4, the new Bob McDorman Automotive Museum, 45 E. Waterloo St., Canal Winchester, will be open to the public. Regular hours will be 1 to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and veterans. Children age 12 and younger will be admitted free.

"This is something I've dreamed of building all my life," McDorman said. "In 2015, I'll have my 50 years in as a Chevy dealer and retire from that officially, but I'll keep my dealer license and we'll have four or five classic cars here on consignment, along with the 38 permanent cars in there."

McDorman, who began collecting in 1968, was inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame in 2012.

"My goal when I started was to be inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame," he said.

The collection on display includes a 1953 Corvette, which he loaned to the National Corvette Museum and was returned to him just weeks before a sinkhole opened up there and swallowed several cars last year.

Other Corvettes on display in Canal Winchester include an Indianapolis 500 Pace Car with the serial number 001; a 1978 25th anniversary edition; a 1988 35th anniversary edition; and a 1963 split-window Stingray.

McDorman is in the process of adding a few more Corvettes to his collection. He sold a portion of his collection at auction several years ago to help keep his car dealership going, including a dozen or so "celebrity Corvettes" owned by the likes of John Mellencamp, George Strait, Dolly Parton and Dinah Shore, among others.

Also included in the museum collection will be an antique service station he had previously displayed at his dealership on Gender Road.

The museum also houses McDorman's vast collection of model cars, neon signs, vintage gas station items, dealership items and vintage bicycles, along with awards and press recognition he has received over the years.

City officials are excited to see yet another attraction moving into Canal Winchester's historic district.

"I think this is one of the top three most-anticipated construction, ribbon-cutting, grand opening, projects in Canal Winchester since Diley Ridge Medical Center and the first phase of the high school was constructed with a new gymnasium back in the mid-1970s," Mayor Michael Ebert said.

"Bob's museum has created quite a bit of conversation within the city and it should bring a new, interested group of visitors to our downtown, which will be good for any business that wants to join in and enjoy the exciting times in Canal Winchester."

Bruce Jarvis, executive director of Destination: Canal Winchester, echoed the mayor's sentiments.

"From a tourism standpoint, the opening of the Bob McDorman Automotive Museum is a huge milestone, because it adds greatly to the growing list of events and attractions in Canal Winchester," Jarvis said. "The more our community has to offer visitors, the more likely they will come to experience the other great things we have -- it's as simple as that."

But for McDorman, the milestone opening is just another facet of sharing his love of cars and car culture.

"I've been car-crazy since I was a kid, playing with my toy cars and trucks on our gravel driveway," McDorman said. "Sometimes those cars would get run over, and to this day, I still remember how I felt -- that crushing those cars was like crushing my heart."

When reminiscing about his career and collection, McDorman said he's enjoyed it. "I wouldn't trade what I've done for anything," he said.

ThisWeek staff member Erin Holl contributed to this story.

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