Historic Auto Attractions: an amazing journey through history


Wayne Lensing, owner of the Historic Auto Attraction Museum, and museum director Alex Merry

Twenty-three years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Wayne Lensing, the owner of Lefthander Chassis, a performance parts supply store for auto racing, at 1370 Metric Road in Roscoe.

Lensing, a history buff and car lover, was hosting the grand opening of his new venture - the Historic Auto Attractions museum, just up the street at 3825 Metric Road.

Back in 2001, Lensing had filled the unique 36,000 square foot museum with a collection of automobiles and memorabilia from historical events, movies and television, and a Presidential Hall featuring wax mannequins of world leaders and American presidents.

Fast forward 23 years. The museum has expanded to 86,000 square feet.  Many new and colorful exhibits and displays have been added in addition to old favorites. The museum reopened for another season on April 1, 2024.

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's limousine

Lensing hasn’t slowed down one bit. He continues to scour the country in his pursuit of rare and unusual artifacts. He also designs and improves the museum dioramas, bringing realism through sound and color.

Through the years, Lensing has become well known in the museum world, and gets frequent calls from sources letting him know when artifacts become available. Many exhibit pieces have been donated to the museum by visitors.

Last year, Lensing hired a program director, Alex Merry.  Before coming to Historic Auto Attractions, Merry was a director at Burpee Museum in Rockford, Illinois. She fills many roles at the museum. Lensing also brought on Tony Farrell as chief historian and guide. “Our goal is to bring the museum to a new level. We’re a good team,” Lensing said.

Here is just a snapshot of what awaits visitors at Historic Auto Attractions:

One of the most intriguing exhibits is a gold 1957 Plymouth automobile: Miss Belvedere. The automobile was part of a time capsule, buried in a sealed nuclear-proof vault on the grounds of the Tulsa, Oklahoma courthouse in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood (1907-1957).

Miss Belvedere exhibit

When it was dug up in 2007, they discovered that the seal had broken and the car was covered with rust. It was totally ruined. A few years ago, Lensing purchased the car and brought it to its final resting place at Historic Auto Attractions.

The museum is home to the world’s largest collection of presidential, world leader and gangster vehicles and memorabilia. Visitors can easily spend three to four hours taking in all that the museum has to offer.

Historic Auto Attractions is open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, with extended hours 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It is closed on Mondays.

More information can be found at www.historicautoattractions.com, or call 815-389-7917.

A list of names of men and women who perished on 9/11.
The movie version of Bonnie and Clyde's car.
A tribute to Elvis Presley
Wax and silicone figures of President Trump and President Biden in the Presidential Hall
The Animal Kingdom exhibit
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