Romance of the Road.
Romance of the Road.

America on Wheels Museum

Field review by the editors.

Allentown, Pennsylvania

America on Wheels is a spacious, 2-story, 48,000-square-foot facility devoted to exhibits about "over the road transportation." The museum's galleries allow visitors to inspect rare and historic vehicles up close, whether it's a 1915 Model T roadster, or an early motorcycle, or rare Mac Truck.

Highlights include a rare 1990s electric-powered EV1 (they were supposedly all destroyed by GM on orders from the oil companies, but a handful of museums have survivors), a Plymouth Road Runner "Superbird" (its giant wing failed to stop most of these cars from crashing), and one of only four replicas of Pee Wee Herman's bicycle. There's also the lawnmower that won the 2007 US Lawn Mower Racing trophy (top speed: 65 mph).

Mannequins with vintage vehicles.
Mannequins with vintage vehicles.

Some exhibits make liberal use of mannequins in period dress -- from truck driver farmers to a 1950s family on the Great American Road Trip. Look for the dummy of Luther "Dopey Duncan" Gehringer -- a local clown, radio personality and body shop owner who supported Allentown drag racers.

The Mack Truck corporation has a large presence in the Allentown area, and several of their trucks are on loan here (Mack Trucks maintains their own museum nearby, with limited days open, in its old customer testing facility). America on Wheels devotes lots of space to Mack Trucks, including a couple of interactive exhibits where visitors can sit in a driving simulator, or take auto knowledge quizzes.

Likeness of Dopey Duncan.
Likeness of Dopey Duncan.

While many permanent items are on hand, large sections are temporary exhibits created with vehicles on loan from museums and private collectors. In 2012 we saw a great gallery of movie vehicles: "Cars That Were Stars," including the 1930 GMC taxi used in "It's a Wonderful Life, " the 1940 Ford De Luxe Coup from "The Blob," and the 1998 psychedelic VW Bug used by Austin Powers in "The Spy Who Shagged Me." These were scheduled to return to their owners, but the museum keeps a flow of new exhibits coming in to encourage return visits -- Muscle Cars, Pedal Cars, British Cars...

Visitors can snack in the museum's HubCap Cafe, a retro-design diner with a chrome counter and stools, and a ceiling of classic car hubcaps.

America on Wheels Museum

5 N. Front St., Allentown, PA
On the east side of downtown, just west of the river and just north of Hamilton/Union St.
Jan-Mar W-Sa 10-4, Su 12-4; Apr-Dec Tu-Sa 10-5, Su 12-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $10
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Mall Model TrainsMall Model Trains, Allentown, PA - 2 mi.
Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War SoldierTomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier, Bethlehem, PA - 4 mi.
Nittany Lion BenchNittany Lion Bench, Bethlehem, PA - 4 mi.
In the region:
15-Foot-Tall Squatting Indian, Philadelphia, PA - 39 mi.

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