The Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum's fleet of vintage military vehicles was moved to secure indoor storage space owned by Koucar Management in January.

The Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum's fleet of vintage military vehicles was moved to secure indoor storage space owned by Koucar Management in January.

Photo provided by John Lind

Military museum’s vintage vehicles have a new home

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published January 16, 2024


DETROIT — After the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum lost the ability to store its vintage military vehicles on the city of Warren’s Department of Public Works property, Koucar Management stepped up to provide a large indoor storage space in Detroit.

The space includes 10,000 square feet of storage and 12,000 square feet for the museum, according to Thomas Cleaver, the fundraising and media manager for the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum.

“At Warren DPW, we had about eight vehicles outside. Now we have all of our vehicles inside with room for another 10 to 12,” Cleaver said. “It is a dream come true for us.”

According to Cleaver, the nonprofit has a lease for $1 a year.

“We’re looking to help however we can,” said Devin Pacheco, Koucar Management’s digital marketing director. “We fully support the military. We also want to help the community in preserving some of the history of not only the vehicles, but also the military’s efforts. Koucar Management has roots in military equipment production, so this feels like a natural fit in preserving history.”

In December 2023, the museum started looking for a new space for its fleet of historic trucks, Jeeps, military cars and armored vehicles, according to Cleaver.

“We have a new partner in history,” said John Lind, founder and director of the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum. “They believe in our mission. We are overjoyed and grateful for their generous response.”

The city of Warren now needs the space that the museum had been using for its own growing fleet of vehicles. 

“It was supposed to have been a temporary situation, and time went on for six years,” said Warren Communications Director Clarissa Cayton.

In 2017, the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy reached an agreement with the city of Warren to build a new museum at Veterans Memorial Park, less than a mile away from the historic former home of the U.S. Army’s Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant. The Warren City Council approved the agreement on Feb. 28, 2017. The agreement was announced by Warren Mayor Jim Fouts on March 2, 2017. 

Cayton said that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that put everything in a tailspin and prolonged the process of Lind removing his vintage vehicles.

“The timing of everything was just bad. Had COVID not occurred, he (Lind) probably would have been able to get his footing and get the monies that he needed for his nonprofit to have a place. That’s what we want him to have, a museum, but our storage is not a museum,” Cayton said.

Some of the city’s new vehicles include large snow removal trucks, which can take more than a year from when the trucks are ordered to be outfitted with the necessary equipment, and then delivered to the city. The space for those vehicles was not needed before but is needed now, according to Cayton.

The new location of the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum is 19144 Glendale St. in Detroit, near Interstate 96 and the Southfield Freeway.

The museum hopes to open in its new location and exhibit a plethora of artifacts that will include radios, uniforms, weapons and more at the new location sometime within the next year, according to Lind.

“The most popular exhibits are the vehicles,” Lind said. “Since this is the motor capital of the world, people have a real love affair with the vehicles.”

Within the next year, the museum hopes to acquire a Michigan-built Sherman tank and other items, said Cleaver. Negotiations are underway. 

“We’re looking for volunteers and contractors to help us with the needs of (the) museum building,” said Cleaver. “People who have an interest in donating military vehicles, we gladly accept those.”

Those interested in volunteering or donating can contact Cleaver at (586) 463-9400.