Western Trips

Western Trips

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Classic Car Museum in Endee New Mexico

When you're traveling on Interstate-40 on a New Mexico vacation or you're on Interstate-40 driving between California and points east, there is a gem of a vintage auto museum that you definitely don't want to miss. Actually, it is a bit easy to miss so you want to make a note to yourself to exit Interstate-40 at Endee New Mexico (exit 369). As auto museums go, this is an excellent one. When you arrive you will see a large modern travel center. When you walk inside and go to the rear of the store you will see an amazing 8,500 square foot vintage car museum.

A Fine Classic Car Museum

1959 corvette
1959 Corvette
Endee is located at the New Mexico-Texas border. Look for exit 369 not far east of Tucumcari and just inside the New Mexico border.

There you will find Russel's Travel Center which is on the old Route 66 and three miles west of the Texas border. Russells truck stop car museum is an absolute treasure.

 As most people know, Route 66 was the first long distance automobile highway through America's great southwest. Some of the route followed the old Santa Fe Trail but between Missouri and Santa Fe there were variances. Actually, prior to 1938 Route 66 went through Santa Fe itself but was diverted (only after a lot of political haggling) to the south along what is today much of New Mexico's Interstate-40. When you travel Interstate-40 anywhere in New Mexico and Arizona you will see many exits where the old Route 66 can be picked up for several miles.


1929 ford pickup truck
Vintage Ford Pickup Truck
Enjoy the many classic cars on display at this vintage car museum which bring back memories of travel on old Route 66 before the days of the Interstates.  

Russell's Classic Car Museum might very well be the largest display of classic automobiles anywhere on Route 66. If you find a comparable one on Interstate-40, please let me know. It's 8,500 square foot auto museum displays more than two dozen vintage cars. Included in the display is a a pristine 1929 Model A pickup truck. The old Ford pickup truck was a mainstay in truck history. The museum is decorated with posters and memorabilia from the ’50s, along with large video screens that continually run black-and-white movies from the era.

About one-half of the vehicles on display comprise about half of the personal collection of Travel Center owners Emory and Barbara Russel. You will see a third off the line Ford Thunderbird and a 1959 Corvette with a bit over one mile on the odometer. When you see the 59 vette you might remember the old 50's television series "Route 66". It was that car and that famous highway which lured many young people of the time to hit the highway and take that adventurous drive out west.

The Corvette model came into being after World War Two. This era saw a boom in sports car interest and General Motors built the two-seat Corvette convertible as what was called at the time an "image car". In 1959 Chevrolet sold about 9,700 of these Corvettes and exceeded 10,000 for the 1960 model year. At the time GM was neither making much money or losing much on the Corvette but sales did continue to increase each year after 1960. The first generation of Corvettes spanned the years 1953 to 1962. Beginning in 1963 General Motors built the Corvette Stingray which was the first model with independent rear suspension. Corvette historians will also note that the 1963 model year issued in the Corvette Grand Sport which was a lightweight model. It's my understanding that only five of these cars exist today and all are privately owned. For a vintage car enthusiast it doesn't get too much better than that. There is no charge to visit the museum but customers are invited to make a donation whose proceeds go to a local mission.

You will also want to see our photo gallery and history of vintage cars and trucks on our site AutoMuseumOnline. One of the very rare automobiles pictured on the website is the Tucker Car of which only fifty-seven were ever built. Also on our AutoMuseumOnline site you'll want to see Classic Car News From the Internet.

Also see our Western Trips articles on The Rock and Roll Hits from Clovis New Mexico and some Great Stops Along the old TX and NM Route 66 Segment.



ford thunderbird
Vintage Ford Thunderbird
The Ford Thunderbird, often called the Ford T Bird, built by Ford Motor Company actually went in and out of production over the years but is now back. The car was one of the first smaller personal luxury cars built. The car debuted in 1953 and was Ford's answer to GM's Corvette. The first Ford Thunderbirds went from an idea to a prototype in one year and first was shown during the 1954 Detroit Auto Show.

The difference in marketing the two cars, Corvette and Thunderbird, was Ford's promotion of the car with an emphasis on personal luxury as opposed to GM's emphasis on the Corvette's sportiness. Either way you want to look at these two cars, both were great looking designs and were very popular with the motoring public.
 
I had a marvelous time visiting the museum and would venture to say there is none better anywhere on Interstate-40 or on the old Route 66 highway. The travel center is quite popular with both truckers and travelers by featuring gas pumps, showers, a TV lounge, a well-stocked grocery store, a full-service restaurant, a sandwich shop, tire store, laundry and a fenced dog run. Add to this the unique 8,500 square foot vintage auto museum and you have a terrific place to take a break from the Interstate. What usually is a short stop to gas up and buy water turns into much more enjoyable visit back into the times of more leisurely road travel.

Be sure to make a note in your trip planner when traveling on New Mexico's Interstate-40. Russell's Travel Center and Classic Car Museum is a great stop for the entire family and it's free. A very interesting addition to your New Mexico vacation planner.

(Photos and article copyright Western Trips)

5 comments:

  1. This car museum should not be missed by travelers out there. It's a must-visit with its vintage and classic cars. That Pink Thunderbird is a real treasure. If I remember correctly, this vintage truck is from a 1940's film starring John Wayne.

    Duncan Moredock

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  2. The pink Thunderbird rocks! Haha, those cars are a nice find. It's pretty cool that they're taken care of as displays.

    They must have looked like that back then, when they were newly made and still up for sale.
    -Nicole Vickers

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  3. The museum is FREE... its. Definately a. MUST SEE.
    he even has a 1975. Honda GoldWing. First of
    Its. Kind... very nice museum.! !
    Im. Going there. Tomorrow. 2-6- 2013...
    Steve. "" STP "

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  4. Yes, the museum is free. But consider dropping several bills in the donation box. Proceeds go to feed the hungry.

    Definitely worth a stop.

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  5. i love this place ! i live in amarillo and travel to albuquerque on a regular basis. always have to stop . i love the russels big rig ! one of the best burgers you will find. i am also a mustang guy, every once in a while i will get to see 4 - 600hp rousch mustangs lined up . he only has room to display about 1/4 of his cars at one time so they change from time to time. i have seen them in the process of rotating once on a saturday. A MUST SEE !

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