Photos courtesy Bob McDorman Automotive Museum.
After Chevrolet dealer and longtime Corvette collector Bob McDorman sold off 160 cars from his collection at auction four years ago, the idea of opening a museum almost seemed out of the question – what would he fill it with, after all? Yet this past weekend he threw open the doors of the Bob McDorman Automotive Museum to the public, and said he has as many cars as he can fit in it.
“I wanted to have it ready for my retirement from the dealership,” McDorman said of the museum that he announced two years ago at his induction into the Corvette Hall of Fame. “I’ve got about 14 months until my 50th anniversary as a dealer, and then I’ll be done at the dealership after that.”
McDorman, 82, said he’s been collecting cars since before he bought the dealership in 1965 and moved it to its current location in 1968. He also sold a number of collector cars at auction – once in 2005 and again in 2007 – before the headline-making all-no-reserve 2010 sale of cars, parts, and automobilia that netted $7 million, which he said was necessary to keep the dealership running. In 2011 he sold a majority of his dealership, though he plans to keep a 15 percent stake through 2015.
The new museum, located in downtown Canal Winchester, Ohio, has enough space for about 50 cars, McDorman said, and while visitors at the grand opening on Friday saw 38, McDorman said he has another dozen to fill it. The museum isn’t just Corvettes, either, with an assortment of Chevrolet cars and trucks and other GM vehicles inside, including cars as old as a 1936 Chevrolet coupe with dual sidemounts and as new as the sixth-generation Corvette. Perhaps the highlight of the museum is McDorman’s 1953 GM trifects – a Cadillac Eldorado, a Buick Skylark, and an Oldsmobile Fiesta – accompanied by a 1953 Corvette.
McDorman said the museum is not a non-profit museum, but he hopes only that he can get his expenses out of it and maybe turn a little profit. He told the Canal Winchester Times that he plans to keep a few cars on consignment in the collection. “If I sell anything out of my collection, it’ll be so I can buy something of the same year but rarer,” he said.
Along with his nomination to the Bloomington Gold Great Hall in 2010, McDorman was selected for the Corvette Hall of Fame in 2012. As noted in his biography for the latter, McDorman had accumulated and sold off Corvette collections three times in his life, showing his persistence when it comes to building such collections.