Remembering Michael J Kollins

From the motor Cities Heritage Center
By: Robert Tate

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Michael Kollins at the National Automotive History Collection located in Detroit, Michigan. We both had the pleasure to serve as Board of Trustee members for the National Automotive History Collection. Mr. Kollins was known as the perfect gentlemen and noted automotive historian. 

On March 20, 1912, Mr. Kollins was born in St. Clairsville, Ohio. In 1932, he received an engineering degree from a local college in Detroit, Michigan, currently known as Wayne State University. He worked as an automotive engineer and test drove Packard automobiles as well as prototype and pre-production vehicles at the Packard Proving Grounds located in Utica, Michigan. 

As a hobby, Mr. Kollins would build race cars and drive them during the automotive racing season. He also took great interest in disassembling engines from Packard models and other manufactures such as Cadillac and Pierce-Arrow to see what the rivals were building. 

During World War II, Mr. Kollins enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as an engineering officer, engineering training officer, Chief Machinists, and as a Lieutenant. He also wrote and produced the PT boat manuals for the war. Once the war ended, he returned back to Packard and by late 1945, he published the Serviceman’s Training programs for Electromatic Clutch and Eco-no-Drive. He also wrote and directed the Serviceman’s Training School information on carburetor, ignition, engine diagnosis, tune up, transmission and overdrive automotive documents. In 1955, Mr. Kollins worked for Chrysler serving as the manager of the technical services and warranty administration offices. He also served as manager of the Highland Park service center until 1975. 

Mr. Kollins continued to contribute to the automotive world by publishing a four volume set called Pioneers of the U.S. Automotive Industry. He was an active member of the Society of Automotive Historians and of the SAE Historical Committee. He was involved with the Indianapolis 500 for over 50 years. He served as a former member of the AAA Contest Board and later became Technical Vice Chairman and Director of Product certification for the United States Auto Club. In addition, he was a formal automotive speaker in which he stated was his favorite work of all. 

On December 3, 2003, Mr. Kollins died at 91 years of age in his home located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He continues to be remembered as one of the most inspirational, knowledgeable, and talented men within the automotive industry. 

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection (NAHC) of the Detroit Public Library. (Bibliography: Scott Gerald (February 22, 1999), Detroit’s Mr. Packard Recalls Lifetime of Fun pg 6A Tech Center News) For further information please visit or email .

Please do not use any photographs without the permission of the National Automotive History Collection. For further information contact Robert Tate at If you have a story that you would like to donate to be featured as a MotorCities Story of the Week, email Lisa Ambriez

About corvetteinjimzgarage

America's Corvette Club, Car Show Chairman North Oaks Corvette Club, Past President National Corvette Museum, Ambassidor Silicone Valley Corvette Club '91 Coupe, "Polar Bear"
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s