A lot of people have collections. Some folks might collect salt and pepper shakers, others might like butterflies or tea cups or many other items.. But few have a collection like Wayne Lensing. Wayne collects automobiles. He has a lot of automobiles.
Wayne’s love of cars started when he was a young man. He worked at the Chrysler Plant in Belvidere for 16 years making cars and in his spare time, he raced them. As a racer at the Rockford Speedway, he collected winning titles.
Wayne would eventually expand his car obsession when he opened his own business, Lefthander Chassis. This dream grew into a very successful business. His success allowed him to expand his obsession with automobiles to include his obsession with aviation. This obsession would lead him to obtain his pilot license. Wayne grew so successful, people started to believe that everything he touched turned to gold.
So when Howard Hughes’ 1960 Cadillac Limousine went on the market, Wayne had to buy it. It was the start of what would, years later, become his own museum, the Historic Auto Attractions. Wayne would explain later that he noticed that people were interested in viewing the car and also in the history of the vehicle. Wayne decided that maybe other people might like to see his collection so he began to work on designing a museum.
The museum open its doors in 2001 with a 36,000 square foot facility and 60 cars and trucks. It would be just like Wayne’s other business ventures, a great success. The business was so good that in 2022 Wayne expanded his facility. He added another 50,000 square feet to showcase all of the vehicles and other artifacts he has collected throughout the years.
There are exhibits featuring cars from different eras. There are Presidential cars, gangster cars, and cars from TV shows and Movies. There is a huge exhibit all about the assassination of President Kennedy. It includes a car that carried the Secret Service men on that day in Dallas.
But this museum also includes so much more than automobiles, there are horse drawn carriages, and a wonderful collection of dresses worn by the First Ladies and movie stars. Each artifact has been carefully researched and placed in artistically designed exhibits. Extremely life-like mannequins are used to create authentic tableaus that capture moments in time.
It is easy to see that Wayne has a great fondness for each artifact. He knows the stories of each piece and can recite them by heart. His enthusiasm is as strong today as it was on the day the museum opened.
But Wayne got a little more than he bargained for with some of the items he has collected. And like some of the other museums in the area including Tinker Swiss Cottage, the Veteran Memorial Hall and the buildings of the Heritage Museum Park, these artifacts hold certain energies. And sometimes, this energy allows certain spirits to cross the veil between the living and the dead.
One of the items featured at this museum that has a darker history is a piece of the 1955 Porsche 550 that James Dean crashed on September 30, 1955. This little piece of history was featured on the TV show “Mysteries at the Museum” for Season 2. The story of the car supposedly features a curse. This curse was allegedly so strong that Dean’s friend Sir Alec Guinness was startled when he first saw the car. He told Dean that there was something wrong with the car. Guinness warned Dean that if he drove that car, that he would be dead in a week, Guinness’ premonition came true when exactly one week later Dean crashed the car on the way to a race in California.
The Haunted Rockford Crew has been investigating this museum with team members from the Midwest Ghost Investigators and Ghost Head Soup Paranormal Investigators for a while now. The teams work on a tri-fold approach when investigating locations. They have the historical research on the location and artifacts, they are accompanied by teams that use the latest equipment for gathering evidence of a possible haunting and they also use psychics that might be able to connect with the spirits.
These investigations have led to some exciting evidence at this particular museum. The investigators have witnessed footsteps, disembodied voices, and EVPs in the museum. They have also picked up words on equipment that answer specific questions asked by the different team members. These results are very exciting and have led the members to believe that the museum is definitely haunted.
When they reported their findings to Wayne, the down to earth, no nonsense man didn’t seem surprised. In fact, it seemed to make him even more determined to share his obsession with a greater variety of people. He has agreed to host some Haunted Rockford events at this very active location.
The Historic Auto Attractions is definitely a special place that offers something for everyone. Whether you are interested in automobile history, Hollywood history, or fashion history this place is worth visiting. And if you happen to love history AND paranormal locations, the sheer number of artifacts located here makes the possibility of having a ghostly encounter even more likely.
Copyright © 2023 Kathi Kresol, Haunted Rockford Events