potato truckOne reason I decided to attend the Tour of Missouri bicycle race in mid-September had little to do with cycling other than it’s a form of transportation. My real reason for going was simply the continuation of my now nearly 25-year enjoyment of travel. I had never been to the state before. But I had negotiated, as the author of The Weekly Driver auto review column, to test drive a 2008 Mercury Mariner for a week.

Upon my arrival and two hours into my drive from St. Louis to Kansas City, I stopped for the night near Fulton, Mo. And as I pulled into the parking lot of my motel, I noticed another connection to transportation and travel — a dimly lit road sign for the Auto World Museum. Since it was nearly 10 p.m. I waited until the next morning to explore.

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The following day, I had about a 2 1/2-hour drive to Kansas City, so I figured a brief stop at the museum would be a beneficial way to start the day as well as the pending long week of driving throughout the 600-mile race.

The Auto World Museum, 200 Peacock Drive, Fulton, Mo., is visible along Highway 54, the connecting route to Interstate 70.

With the exception of other warehouse businesses and agricultural fields, not much else is nearby. When I arrived, just after the 10 a.m. opening, director Warren Hollrah was on the telephone and didn’t even hear me enter the building.

Soon enough, though, as the museum’s only guest, I got a personally guided tour of the 20,000 square-foot facility. I didn’t stay long, about 30 minutes, but I took the included images.

The museum’s genesis dates more than 50 years when William E. Backer, founder of the Backer Potato Chip Company, purchased a 1924 Dodge. Since then, according to the museum’s brochure, “He has been collecting an outstanding array of automobiles with over 100 in his personal collection.”

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And thus, the museum began. The collection on display includes more than 80 vehicles. Here’s the partial list: 1903 Humberette, 1907 REO Touring, 1909 Lambert Touring, 1909 Black Auto Buggy, 1909 Ford Model T, 1910 Kelsey 3-Wheeled, 1915 Studebaker Touring, 1922 Wills Ste. Claire, 1924 Stanley Steamer, 1926 Pierce Arrow, 1931 Rolls Royce P II, 1932 DeSoto Roadster, 1932 REO Royale, 1938 Buick 4-Door Sedan, 1938 Dodge Panel Truck, 1941 Packard Coupe, 1947 Diamond T Pick-Up, 1950 Buick 4-Door Special, 1952 Kaiser Manhatten, 1956 Lincoln Mark II, 1957 Thunderbird, 1959 Edsel, 1969 Ford Fairlane, 1970 Cadillac Stretched Coupe, 1982 Delorean, 1986 Pulse.

The Auto World Museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 1-Dec. 31. Address: 200 Peacock Drive, Fulton, Mo., 65251. Mailing address: P.O. Box 128, Fulton, Mo., 65251-0128. Tel. 573-642-2080. E-mail: [email protected] Web site: www.autoworldmuseum.com.

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