Revving up a dream: Local seeks to build car museum in Flagstaff unlike any other – Arizona Daily Sun

John Lutz wants to inject some horsepower into Flagstaff.

A longtime local, Lutz is endeavoring to build an auto museum after dreaming of the idea about five years ago. With sponsors getting on board, car pledges piling up and a fundraising gala approaching, Lutz is ready to shift into high gear on the nonprofit project. 

“In every community in the country there’s a certain culture that cars are attached to, and families are attached to their cars in certain ways,” Lutz said of his motivation to tell the history and stories of Flagstaff and its people through classic cars.

He envisions the Flagstaff Auto Museum being located off Route 66 and serving as a hub for more than just classic car enthusiasts and motorheads.

Imagine a car museum and restoration shop tucked in among a diner and a movie theater. Imagine a “place where there was always something happening,” where kids are working on cars instead of keeping their eyes glued to their phones.

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For Lutz, it’s what he hopes to see scattered across the United States, with the Flagstaff location acting as a pilot.

“We’re not talking small beans here. The end result of the dream, if we can get there, would be multi-million dollar buildings,” Lutz said.

But first, Lutz has to start up his Flagstaff location.

“We needs funds,” he said.

Lutz is hosting a gala on Saturday, Feb. 12, at Little America, one of the auto museum’s supporters. To get the project rolling, according to Lutz, the first year of operation costs is expected to be around $100,000 — a goal for the gala.

Lutz, 54 years old and a 30-year Flagstaff resident, launched the nonprofit, Classic Automobile Restoration and Education Society (C.A.R.E.S.), after coming to a realization that persevering culture and stories behind cars was an important part of history, noting that auto museums have failed to do so on a large scale and in a way that’s intimate to the community. He’d like to shift gears on how an auto museum functions, hoping the Flagstaff location will set the bar for more to come.

“That’s one of the things I want to try with the car museum and car culture,” Lutz said, “and try to make it a living history and make it more involved with the community and less of a thing where you go see a car behind a rope and say, ‘Wow, that’s beautiful,’ and then move on.”

According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, there are more than 35,000 registered museums located in the United States. According to Lutz, there are only about 100 active classic vehicle museums spread across the nation. The numbers are eye-opening to Lutz, and he’d like to close that gap.

A graduate from Coconino Community College and Northern Arizona University, Lutz is a longtime car photographer, spending decades doing volunteer work for the Copper State 1000 among other endeavors. He owns a 1972 Datsun 510, which will be one of the vehicles to …….


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