achievements in American life are celebrated. Architecture is
enshrined through the National Register of Historic Places, while
the Smithsonian doubles as the nationís collective attic, a
treasure trove of our culture. And who hasnít visited the
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, a monument to our mastery
Yet when you
consider the automobile, thereís nothing, not even an organized
archive in the Library of Congress.
hopes to change that. "Every other country has a national
automotive federation. But in America, we donít have that,"
president of the Historic Vehicle Association, which was created in
2008 with an eye toward preserving our automotive heritage. The
organization has received a big assist from McKeel Hagerty, whose
company, Hagerty Insurance, insures collector cars.
people call this the golden age of car collecting, but itís still
a relatively immature collecting activity," Hagerty said.
"A couple of decades of collecting cars donít make a long
concerned about the long-term viability of collector car events and
organizations. "In general, clubs are not strong enough to hold
anything together over decades and decades. You have to put
something stronger together," he said.
mean to say that the people are bad or that theyíre not well
intended; itís just that there isnít enough to them to hold them
together. Itís a really thin landscape, organizationally."
funding assist, the HVA initiated a class of preservation judging
that has grown since its inception to more than 30 events in the
coming year, from mainstream shows to exclusive ones.
The HVA looks
for vehicles that are associated with important events or people in
American or automotive history. The vehicles could have special
designer construction or have value as the first, the last or the
best example that exists.
the HVA is organizing an event, National Historic Vehicle Gathering
to be held in Middleburg, Va., next year. The show will feature the
50 most historic vehicles ó cars, trucks or motorcycles ó from
1880 to 1980; five from each decade. The vehicles are being chosen
by a panel of experts.
be documenting each one to be the first 50 in our national register.
They will be in the permanent record, in perpetuity, in the Library
of Congress," Gessler said.
As for the
showís location, it was chosen for its proximity to federal
authorities, experts on national heritage, and members of the hobby.
close to Volkswagen Groupís North American headquarters. "The
manufacturersí link to their heritage is an important part of the
game," he said, acknowledging that automakers could be a key
source for funding.
members and counting, the HVA is off to a strong start for a new
organization, and it will be interesting to see if they attain their
goal: an automotive heritage museum in Washington, D.C.
come to Washington for one of two things: They either come for
policy or theyíre there for heritage," Gessler said.
automotive heritage to be a part of that equation. Itís been done
for buildings, for aviation, but thereís no (automotive) list that
says, ĎThese are our national treasures.í "