January 2, 2011

Pontiac Car Museum Coming to Pontiac, IL

By Eric Shangraw

January 4, 2011 Updated Jan 4, 2011 at 9:35 PM CDT

City leaders in Pontiac, Illinois feel like they've won an old fashioned drag race with a cash prize at the finish line.

The city council Monday night approved an operating agreement with an Oklahoma businessman to develop a new museum dedicated to the Pontiac automobile.

Eric Shangraw has details on the upcoming attraction.

The owner of a 1962 Pontiac Catalina squeals its tires and shows off its tri-power engine after hearing a museum dedicated to this original muscle car is opening in Pontiac.

The Livingston County community is providing ten-thousand square feet of space in this downtown city-owned building to collector Tim Dye.

Dye's Pontiac memorabilia collection, said to be the biggest in North America, has been featured in the New York Times.

Pontiac's mayor says Dye approached the city about opening up shop here just as General Motors phased out the Pontiac model last year.

"We were in the right spot at the right time," said Mayor Bob Russell.

"We are on Route 66. We are getting a lot of traffic. We have the name Pontiac and he said, where else should this thing go? We'd like to bring it here if we can work out a deal and place," Russell said.

In exchange for the space, the deal gives the city a fifty-percent cut of the museum's gift shop recipes and a share of Dye's speaking and publication fees.

State tourism officials say Pontiac generates 14-million dollars in tourism dollars each year. The mayor is hoping the new museum will double that figure. -Sweet math to local businesses.

Bernardi's II restaurant is right next door to the planned car museum on the downtown square.

"Anytime you can get more people downtown, just by your front door, it has got to help your business. It is just very exciting to have people around," said restaurant manager Mark Johnson.

"It is going to be a real exciting time for Pontiac. And in this economy, this is gong to be a real boost," added the mayor.

The museum dedicated to all-things Pontiac is scheduled to open July 21, 2011. The mayor says at first, admission will be free.

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