Closure doesn’t mean parting of ways

RM/Sotheby’s Classic Car Exhibit had something for everyone before the municipality announced it would be closed. Take for instance this 1930 Dusenberg — with a 1937 Cord coupe, 1969 Charger used in the Dukes of Hazzard , and a 1963 Chrysler Newport Highway Patrol car in the background. 
RM/Sotheby’s Classic Car Exhibit had something for everyone before the municipality announced it would be closed. Take for instance this 1930 Dusenberg — with a 1937 Cord coupe, 1969 Charger used in the Dukes of Hazzard , and a 1963 Chrysler Newport Highway Patrol car in the background.


The decision to close the RM Classic Car Exhibit to the general public doesn’t mean the company or the municipality are parting ways on the importance of auto tourism to the community.

That according to Bob Crawford, Chatham-Kent’s general manager of community development.

RM announced Wednesday it is closing the exhibit as a result of the municipality’s decision to shutter its tourism booth at the location.

Chatham Mazda from Chatham Voice on Vimeo.

Municipal staff were responsible for greeting people going through the exhibit and collecting admission fees where applicable.

That closure took place in January as part of an overhaul of tourism spending as set out in the Tourism Destination Management Plan approved by C-K council last September.

The $50,000 plan was developed during the past year by Brain Trust Marketing in concert with council’s Tourism Stakeholders Advisory Committee.

Council was updated on the closure at its Dec. 14 meeting.

In its Wednesday release, RM was critical of the action and the method behind it.

“We find it odd that neither Brain Trust Marketing and Communications, nor any of the municipality’s tourism staff, had any communication with the RM management team on this decision,” it stated.

RM founder Rob Myers was unavailable for comment.

Contrary to that assertion, Crawford said various members of RM were advised of the move and consulted during the process.

“I personally spoke with RM officials and I know some were aware of our plans,” he said. “There has apparently been miscommunication but any suggestion that this action was done in any autocratic way or in isolation is simply incorrect.

“I’m not upset at Rob and I understand he’s not happy with the decision. I understand his motivation.”

During 2015, municipal figures show 2,300 people visited the exhibit and $14,000 was realized through tour fees. Staffing the tourist booth cost $15,000.

“We had to realize that the tourist booth wasn’t working,” Crawford said.

Audrey Ansell, Chatham-Kent’s acting manager of resident attraction and retention, said the tourism booth had, in years past, been closed for extended periods.

“We kept it open a little more than usual, especially around the Detroit Auto Show and we used some on-line promotion, but the numbers didn’t really pick up.”

Amy Christie, director of public relations for RM/Sotheby’s, said the company plans to continue with its summer Cars & Coffee events, which it started up in 2015, where RM showcases a variety of vintage vehicles outdoors on Saturday mornings.

As well, Christie confirmed RM and its staff will continue to support school education tours and events such as Retrofest, “as part of our continued efforts to promote Chatham-Kent as the ‘Classic Car Capital’ of Canada.”

Crawford said signage removal is being done through the province where applicable, as well as the municipality.

“We have word that the highway signage will be taken down soon and we have been advised by municipal and local firms that our signs will be taken down as soon as ground conditions permit.”

He said the municipality values RM’s presence in the community.

“They are certainly a tremendous asset to Chatham-Kent and a real source of pride for all of us. I don’t expect that to change.”


  1. Chatham will continue to be a backwater destination as long as our city management keeps us that way. We poured how many millions into the Capital Theatre with absolutely no return? We have RM willing to furnish and display cars that are without doubt the finest in the world and our brain trust decides $1000 Is too high a price to pay! Maybe we can market our call centres as tourist hot spots.

  2. I think a grade 10 Civics class could run this city better than those who presently do. How is it, decade after decade, this city makes ZERO progress and is so fiscally confused? Sure, the province sucks but the municipal government has done a ghastly job for as long as most of these readers have breathed air.

  3. Are you Serious A Local Business Like RM supports our Community Extensivly and the Old Boys Club (City Council) would pull the plug on such a valuble asset to our Community But yet funnel Millions in much Larger Losing Projects Blindly . No wonder there is Not foreseeable Future for this fine Area . One of Our most Valuble asset left in this area bringing in Monitary gain in more ways than One and they want to Squabble over a Measly $1000.00 . The City Council needs to give their head a shake or Better yet Let Us Downsize them and Their Overpriced Wages to Help Fund Our community programs to get it back On the Map

  4. John Parker is a Retired Development Economist Working in Canada and the USA

    Before I moved to the Chatham-Kent area, I knew about R&M. Like R&M, my little community helps attract tourist dollars to C-K with annual events like Shrewsbury Ribs and Blues Festival, Shrewsbury Maple Syrup Festival, Shrewsbury Crappie Tournament which, along with dozens of other events in C-K communities, link local talent, businesses, community volunteers, local media and the support of the wider C-K community to the common cause of making this area an interesting, vibrant and a must-see tourist destination. I support what R&M does in and for our community. I've been nothing but impressed with R&M's international reputation, the quality of their plant, their people, their craftmanship, their products and their events. We are all part of a partnership – each a cog in our tourism wheel – R&M should be treated with the respect due a valued partner. Consider this: if R&M was located on a major highway through the US, it would not only be highlighted as a major attraction but folks could find it, access it easily, and then traffic would be spun off to a host of other attractions. Forget about hiding the tourist bureau somewhere where even C-K couldn't find it. H-E-L-L-O!


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