Michigan Mille vintage car tour makes stop to visit Canton Classic Car Museum.
“Gather around, boys. Welcome to Canton Classic Car Museum.
I’m Char Lautzenheiser, the director here. And you guys are car guys so you’ll enjoy this.”
Lautzenheiser was standing Tuesday morning in an open 1901 Oldsmobile Model R Curved-Dash Runabout, talking about fascinating cars to men who drive cars that are pretty darn interesting themselves. Such cars as Jaguars, Corvettes, Ferraris, Mustangs, Prowlers, Challengers and Vipers were parked outside in the museum’s lot.
Those touring on the seventh Michigan Mille — 47 people in 37 cars traveling 1,000 miles in four days — had made Canton and the Classic Car Museum their last stop.
“It’s a different route every year,” said Stephen Shugg of Rochester, Mich. “We always start and end in Michigan.”
Shugg is one of the founders of the Michigan Mille, which is patterned after such events as the California Mille. The word “mille” is Italian for 1,000, he explained. The Michigan Mille started with “three Chrysler executives getting together to exercise their cars,” he said.
“The first year we had 11 cars participate as we did a circumnavigation of the lower peninsula of Michigan. All back roads, stopping to visit the many lighthouses that dot the shoreline of Michigan,” said Shugg. “We always look for the best winding, twisty roads we can find, always staying away from the freeways. For us, the journey is far more important than the destination.”
The destinations were in three states on this year’s Michigan Mille. The first day drivers headed into Ohio and traveled the south shore of Lake Erie, before spending the night in Painesville. The next day they drove east into Pennsylvania, dropped south around Pittsburgh and stopped for a second night in the Keystone State.
“The third day we came back into Ohio, went down to Marietta and cruised on the Valley Gem Sternwheeler for lunch,” said Shugg. Then we drove to Canton and stayed at the McKinley Grand. Today we drive home.”
But before leaving the city, these “car guys” — riding in a sort of a traveling museum — took some time to look at the Classic Car Museum’s vehicles.
Lautzenheiser told the men of the Michigan Mille about the 1937 Studebaker that was the Canton Police Department’s armor-plated “Bandit Car.” She talked about the 1937 Packard — “a rolling piece of art” — that served as a hearse. And, the museum director pointed out the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado convertible with the huge tail fins. “Nine out of 10 people who come in here say the thing they like best are those tail fins,” she said.
After the tour, Lautzenheiser walked with the men out to the parking lot, wishing each of the drivers a safe trip home as they exchanged farewell handshakes and started their cars.
William Couch of Washington Michigan, north of Detroit, got into his 1983 Porsche Cabriolet, his “reward for a business deal that went well.” Michael Schultz of Maple City, Michigan, near Traverse City, was the last to leave. He and a friend drove off in a 1960 red XK150 Jaguar that “gets through the curves great.”
Page 2 of 2 - And there would be a few curves thrown in on the last day of the Michigan Mille.
“Everybody’s on their way home at this point,” said Shugg before he departed Canton Classic Car
Museum. “Some are going to places like New York or North Carolina. But most of us are heading back to Michigan on the back roads of Ohio.”