Four suburban museum showpieces, to go
The upcoming Mecum Auction in Schaumburg is serving up a tasty treat: four classic cruisers that were once part of the McDonald's franchise No. 1 museum in Des Plaines.
The sale includes a Chevrolet Bel Air, Chrysler New Yorker St. Regis, Oldsmobile Delta 88 and a Ford Crown Victoria -- all from 1955, the same year Ray Kroc opened his restaurant.
The Des Plaines fast-food joint served as a model that would grow into the global empire McDonald's is today. The site operated as a functioning McDonald's restaurant through 1984, the year the chain served up its 50 billionth burger and also the year Kroc died. By that point, McDonald's had more than 7,500 franchises in the U.S. and 31 foreign countries with a combined sales of $8 billion a year.
In March of '84, that original franchise, which was remodeled and enlarged several times, was closed and boarded up with a McDonald's three times larger built across the street. Plans were announced to demolish the building, but McDonald's modified that decision after hearing from groups like the Des Plaines Historical Society, which lobbied to save the quaint structure.
The hamburger chain decided to build a replica, red-and-white tiled, 900-square-foot eatery to represent Kroc's first restaurant, with the original sign restored. It became a museum to tell the brand's rich history, opening in 1985. Besides showcasing Kroc's Speedee equipment and setup that made scaling of the restaurant possible, there was vintage advertising and other paraphernalia on display in the basement, as well as a video presentation. Each spring and summer, the company would open the museum's doors to visitors, allowing them to see inside.
Because the restaurant chain rapidly expanded in the heyday of 1950s cruising, the decision was made to park four classic cars in the tiny little parking lot, which only further helped draw attention. Not only do they date from the kickoff year, they are all coupes and three are painted in the brand's iconic red, white and yellow colors.
The cars sat on display, even after the museum's interior was closed to the public in 2008 after some flood damage occurred to the property. From then on, the museum opened more sporadically to viewers. The quartet was still cared for before eventually being sold by McDonald's in 2016, around the time the corporation announced franchise No. 1 would be closed for good and demolished because of falling tourist numbers, maintenance costs and continued flooding.
The vehicles have been properly cleaned up, made fully operational and are ready for the limelight. They will cross the block at no reservation on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center.
With their deep connection to the famed Golden Arches, no doubt they'll be gobbled up by lots of hungry bidders.
Learn more at mecum.com.