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4 Must-See Bikes at the Vintage Motorcycle Festival: The MEET at ACM

On Saturday, July 30, hundreds of vintage motorcycle enthusiasts will converge on America’s Car Museum’s Haub Family Field for the Vintage Motorcycle Festival: The MEET at ACM. The event will feature vintage motorcycles and scooters from all over the west coast, the Pacific Northwest and even Canada! Of the hundreds of beautiful examples of history on 2 wheels, here are 4 notable bikes you won’t want to miss on the field.

1941 Indian Chief

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Example of a 1941 Indian Chief 

Not quite in the same conundrum category as chickens and eggs, the question of which came first between Indian and Harley-Davidson is no less interesting. The belief that both got their start in 1901 is true only to a point. True, William S. Harley did draw up plans for a small engine to be mounted to a bicycle in that year, however actual production units did not hit the streets until 1903. Indian, on the other hand, had a motorcycle for sale in 1901. The two companies duked it out well into the 1940s and 50s when Harley finally won the longevity war. If you want to know more about this fascinating rivalry, check out Allan Girdler’s book, The Harley-Davidson and Indian Wars.

1948 Harley Davidson Servi-Car

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Example of a 1948 Harley Davidson Servi-Car

This interesting little trike helped Harley-Davidson survive lean times following the Clutch Plague. Built from 1932 to 1974, the Servi-Car was originally targeted at the automotive service industry. Initially designed to be towed behind a car being delivered to a customer, the mechanic would then unhook it, hop on and ride it back to the service garage. Also popular for use as a small business utility and mobile vendor vehicle, the Servi-Car is probably best known for its police duty, generally for traffic and parking law enforcement.

1950 Moto Guzzi

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Example of a 1950 Moto Guzzi Airone Astorino

Established in 1921, Moto Guzzi holds the record as Europe’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer in terms of continuous production. Moto Guzzis earned their reputation both on the racing circuit and test track with many pioneering technical innovations. And let’s face it they have the coolest name! I may have to get one just so I can say it with an affected Italian accent.

1977 Kawasaki kZ1000

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Example of a 1977 Kawasaki kZ1000

In addition to being a heck of a ride, the Kawasaki kZ1000 is something of a film & TV star and several examples will be on the field during the VMF. CHIP TV series patrolmen Ponch and Jon cruised the roads of California on kZ1000s. One source has it that fourteen of the bikes used in the filming of Mad Max were modified kZ1000s. And of course, if you ever find yourself needing to outrun the blast wave from a low-yield nuclear explosion, this is your bike. Just ask motorcycle mega-nut Keanu Reeves. He did just that astride a kZ1000 in the movie Chain Reaction.

Don’t miss the Vintage Motorcycle Festival: The MEET at ACM

More than 2,500 classic motorcycle enthusiasts will gather on America’s Car Museum’s Haub Family Field for this unique event featuring hundreds of vintage motorcycles and scooters ranging from 1910 to 1990, including rare Triumphs, Ducatis, BMWs and more. Virtually every brand in the history of motorcycling will be represented from owners across the U.S. and Canada.

A used bike corral, food trucks, free seminars, and vendor booths, plus restoration and touring services make this any motorcycle enthusiast’s dream come true. Tickets also include admission to ACM. 

PURCHASE TICKETS

Online ticket sales end at 5pm on Friday, July 29.
Tickets and day-of bike registrations will be available at the gate.

 

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An Insider’s Guide to the Vintage Motorcycle Festival: The MEET at ACM

By Walt Tomsic, OpenRoad Managing Editor

Don’t be misled by the “Car” in America’s Car Museum. The guiding spirit behind ACM is one of inclusion rather than exclusion. And that includes all vehicular transport whether they sport two, three or four contact patches. And if a powered unicycle ever shows up, it’ll get waved in as well. In other words, it doesn’t matter if the object of your passion is a car, truck, trike, motorcycle or scooter… consider yourself more than welcome at America’s Car Museum.

Recently voted the best museum in Western Washington by KING5’s Evening Magazine viewers, ACM celebrates motorcycles and scooters the same way it treats cars. Everything gets its due respect from brass era classics to muscle cars, café racers to baggers, Vespas to Morgan three wheelers. They’re all “sweet rides” in the eyes America’s Car Museum. As a concrete demonstration of its commitment to two-wheels, the Museum hosts an annual Vintage Motorcycle Festival: The MEET at ACM.

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Every summer for the past four years the grass of the Haub Family Field on the ACM campus in Tacoma, Washington, has seen assembled a veritable living catalog of the world’s most beautiful, brutal, rare and exquisitely engineered motorcycles. The makes and models on display represent a cross-section of the best and most legendary bikes to have ever touched tire to track—or road, rock and dirt. One need only scan down the list of judged categories to gain an appreciation of the scope of the event. They include, among others, Classic Powered Bike/Scooter, Custom Bobber/Chopper, Vintage Competition, Best Café Racer, Pre & Post 1974 Motocross as well as individual makes of Japanese, Italian, German, English and American origin.

If, like me, your taste and rides have run to 60s and 70s vintage Japanese dual sports and dirt bikes (I loved but could never afford the Brits), you’ll wax nostalgic at what you’ll see. The mere sight of the sun reflecting off the polished ‘cheese grater’ exhaust pipe shield on a Honda CL Scrambler last summer stopped me in my tracks. I owned three of varying CCs during my high school and college years. I came across other “I had one of those once” bikes… a Yamaha DT250 Enduro and Honda Elsinore complete with optional mud.

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I saw lots of other people that day beginning sentences with those same six words while pointing at Harleys, Indians, Nortons, Ducatis and the occasional Velocette Thruxton and Hodaka Super Rat. By the way, that cheese grater I mentioned was attached to ACM CEO and avid motorcycle enthusiast David Madeira’s Honda CL. Unlike I experienced, he gets to park it next to his Norton Commando. It’s not surprising why bikes are held in such high esteem at ACM when the CEO rides along on two as well as four wheels.

True to the term “Festival,” The MEET at ACM is an all ages family-friendly affair. In addition to the approximately 400 bikes and scooters on view, visitors will also enjoy demonstration rides, vendor booths, free seminars and a thrilling show put on by the famous Seattle Cossacks Motorcycle Stunt and Drill Team. It all takes place on Saturday, July 30 on the campus of America’s Car Museum. And if you ride, don’t miss the Sunday Ride through the Mt. Rainier Valley followed by lunch on the Haub Family Field. For more information visit www.vintagemotorcyclefestival.com.

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Seattle Cossacks Motorcycle Stunt & Drill Team

See you this weekend at the fifth annual Vintage Motorcycle Festival: The MEET at ACM.
Until then, “ride on!”

PURCHASE TICKETS

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Sprucing up the Isetta

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An update by Renee Crist – Collections Manager

The upcoming exhibit “100 years of BMW” has given me the ability to pull a vehicle from the collection and improve it for display. The car is our 1958 BMW Isetta 300 Export. It will not be in the BMW exhibit as we have examples on loan scheduled for exhibition, but I will use this one for promotional display throughout the year. We have been working on the car (on and off) it for weeks now.

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We are going through the Isetta and doing a cosmetic refreshing for display, along with mechanical conservation routine work: change oil, check and treat fuel tank – it has been drained when we conserved it a few years back, lube, clean and stabilize everything etc.  The car had been repainted many years before we acquired the car into the collection. The paint job was quickly done – dull, some runs, overspray, left with the appearance of an “orange peel,” and most of the rubber was painted over. We have been cleaning all this up.

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We started by removing the side windows and all of the interior, including the fab “shag-a-delic” carpet someone had installed.  I had a feeling if we wet-sanded and buffed the paint, we would have pretty nice looking finish. The car has been buffing really nicely.

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We don’t plan on getting it running and operational at this time – it needs a full mechanical restoration including brakes, engine refresh, wiring, tires, steering and suspension work so that will have to wait for some time in the future when budget allows. We will be replacing the window channel and rubber for the sliding side windows, and some of the other rubber such as around the door and we will also spruce up the interior.

The next thing I’m looking for is a set of hubcaps and to obtain a set of new grilles for the door’s exterior.

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After-Hours at the Porsche Museum

Photo credit: Porsche Museum

By Carson White

“You know the Porsche Museum is closed on Mondays, right?” I did not know this, and grew concerned considering our tour was indeed scheduled for Monday. After attempting to confirm this with the museum, I decide not to worry about it. My tour was, after all, scheduled with Porsche’s Manager of Historical Archives, Dr. Landenberger.

As we arrived, on a Monday evening, I was glad to see people standing inside the museum’s lobby. The street intersection is expectedly filled with Porsche activity. A dark red Porsche 991 drives through the city in some sort of test guise that resembles mid- twentieth century aerodynamic testing. In the museum’s plaza there is a photoshoot with a model and, predictably, a Porsche. I tell the man at the front desk that I am here for a tour, and he promptly summons Dr. Landenberger to the foyer. Herr Landenberger, as one would address him in the native language, walks up and greets us. I quickly realize I’m in the presence of Porsche’s most knowledgeable expert on the brand’s history. He removes the balustrade in front of the escalator, motioning for us to ride up into the upper box, as
it appears from the outside, where the museum’s public display is held. An opportunity like no other is about to commence: an evening with the Porsche museum to ourselves, with the Porsche expert as our guide.

Porsche 959 Cutaway - Credit: Carson White
Porsche 959 cutaway – Photo credit: Carson White

Herr Landenberger leads us to the first exhibit: a small collection of Porsche’s earliest vehicles. While the late-19th-century electric-powered automobile is front and center, I was fascinated with the fire engine that is every bit a Porsche creation as the 959 in the background.

As Herr Landenberger tells us about the first few cars, it becomes apparent that the Porsches themselves may not be the art in the museum: but rather the story of each car. Additionally, each car is continually maintained in top drivable condition; a trait that Herr Landenberger told us of early in our tour. Not only are they drivable, but also each one is kept in top condition and is regularly exercised: some of the cars are even displayed with their current registration plates. As we walk through the museum during its closed hours, the staff casually makes some changes to some of the displays. Workers reposition a 904, and tangles of electrical cords mysteriously surround a 718 Formula 2 car.

As we walked further, staff casually sends the first 935 rolling down the floor’s gentle slope, before a worker jumps in and hits the brakes to stop it just where they want it. Behind the 935 is a 924 GTP LM that also gets moved, revealing some oil drips that have settled into the grout between the polished tiles. Yes, it is quite clear these four- wheeled vehicles do get driven.

Porsche 919 “Heidi” – Photo credit: Carson White
Porsche 919 “Heidi” – Photo credit: Carson White

Well, maybe not all of them. While I didn’t specifically ask Herr Landenberger, I doubt the cutaway Porsche 959 remains a functioning car. The cutaway – with each individual component handcut to make it appear as though the entire car went through a bandsaw – is perhaps the star of the special exhibit celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the 959 supercar. In the exhibit are also two prototypes; one the original “Gruppe B” concept car and a development prototype. The bodywork of the latter has all sorts of hand drawn notes, tape, and even a few entertaining drawings. I’m guessing the author of this doodle never anticipated his artwork to be on public display.

Porsche development prototype - Credit: Carson White
Porsche development prototype – Photo credit: Carson White

We walked past rally cars, race cars, and street cars, and some cars that don’t fall into any of those categories. Such as the VW Schwimmwagen; essentially a VW “Thing”- based amphibious car. However, this car’s exercise is now strictly limited to dry land: no

aquatic forays for this amphibian, as I am told. I was then surprised to be greeted by Sally Porsche’s smile; a face recognizable to anyone who has seen Pixar’s Cars. This too is also not a static display. We pass by the staggering collection of trophies and arrive at what is the final exhibit in the public museum: Heidi. Heidi is the nickname for the Porsche 919 that in 2015 gave Porsche its first 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy since 1998, a well deserved addition to Porsche’s trophy collection. Heidi idealizes the drivable trait all the displays share, wearing the thickest cloak of oil and rubber marks in the entire museum.

Collection of Porsche trophies - Credit: Carson White
Collection of Porsche trophies – Photo credit: Carson White

Herr Landenberger then takes us to our final stop: the Museum’s Classic Workshop. The Workshop is like any good shop: cleaner than most, toolboxes decorated with badges and stickers, and rock music playing from distant speakers. The upholstery section houses some newly assembled seats, and a freshly restored aluminum body is reunited with a wiring harness. Most of the mechanics are finished for the day, but a few continue to work as the rock music plays in the background. I don’t think I’ll forget hearing Herr Landenberger hum along to AC/DC rock music as Porsche workers restore and service a fantastic collection.

While the museum is impressive any time of day, Herr Landenberger made our visit truly personal. He has our respect and thanks for guiding us through the museum, and also for continuing to share Porsche’s stories with anyone who might ask and listen.

Porsche frame - Photo credit: Carson White
One of the Porsche’s in the workshop – Photo credit: Carson White

About the Author:

Carson White is currently an architecture student at Northeaster University, in Boston, MA. When studying abroad in Berlin, Germany this past fall, he received a unique opportunity to get a personal tour of the museum of a favorite car brand: Porsche.

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The Drive Home – Final Thoughts from ACM CEO David Madeira

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Our friends at the North American International Auto Show, Detroit Auto Dealers Association, and Opportunity Detroit sure provided a terrific ‘homecoming’ for us! And like a traditional college homecoming it was a multiple event and multiple day affairs.

The celebration got underway on Thursday, evening, January 8th, at the beautiful Townsend Hotel where NAIAS and ACM co-hosted a private event to thank our sponsors and to interact with members of the local auto community. The event, attended by some 50 persons, was a time for quiet but animated conversation and for reflection on The Drive Home. The three cars, covered in all their road grime were staged in the hotel ballroom with signage about each car and about The Drive itself and with several screens showing remarkable film footage, shot by our videographer Derek Klein, of our journey across America.

Frankly, it was stunning to watch and relive what we and our ‘Detroit Iron’ had experienced and completed without a mishap of any kind. We’d experienced the diversity of the American landscape, the extremes of weather and road conditions, and enjoyed the hospitality of enthusiasts along the way in small towns and major cities. We’d seen Americans of all ages and economic and social groups and car enthusiasts respond emotionally to the cars and thanked us for bringing them to us. It affirmed to me that preserving America’s automotive heritage is an important purpose and that the Museum should be proud to be at the center of the movement to do that.

That evening, Paul Sabatini, Chair of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association and proprietor of Lincoln of Troy graciously helped us place the cars inside his dealership so that they would be out of the icy winter’s grip when we would begin the final drive—some 35 miles or so—from the dealership down historic Woodward Avenue into The Motor City.

When we arrived at 7:30 Friday morning for an 8 a.m. ‘cars and coffee’ hosted by Paul for media and enthusiasts we were stunned that large numbers of them were already waiting for us. Some 40 collector cars had been driven to the scene to join us in creating a winter ‘Woodward Dream Cruise’ to the city. And with them were journalists, radio and TV crews from nearly every media outlet in the region. Many of the ACM team members were interviewed by numerous media as were Rod Alberts and Paul Sabatini for the Auto Show.

At our 9 a.m. departure, a CBS Detroit film crew rode with Rod in the Chrysler, another crew rode with Lisa Dancsok of Opportunity Detroit and Rock Ventures as she drove the Nomad, and The Robb Report crew rode with me in the Mustang. Hordes of journalists followed in other vehicles and would pass and re-pass us hanging out of open doors and shooting video of the cars on the drive into the city. The coverage that day and night on every TV station in the area was extensive and positive. Video was sent to outlets in New York and Germany. USA TODAY and other major outlets covered The Drive enthusiastically.

The departure had started with a briefing by the Michigan State Patrol which had sent two cars to escort us into the city so we could travel safely as a group and we were pleased to see the big, blue cruisers with flashing lights leading the way and protecting our rear. One trooper even let our filmmaker, Derek Klein, put a Go-Pro camera on the roof of his patrol car!

We arrived at Cadillac Square where a massive tent had been erected by Opportunity Detroit and where ice sculptures of our cars stood to greet us. Along the way motorists had waved and honked at us and pedestrians called out in greeting. The press gathered for a brief press conference and we had done it. The cars were home!!

Later that day we moved the Nomad, the 300 and the Mustang into the tent which would host the evening’s party for some 350 persons. Opportunity Detroit had transformed the tent into a 50s diner complete with waitresses on roller skates, cheese dogs, sliders, milkshakes and soda fountain. Music of the era had everyone in good spirits and dancing –and the bar helped with that too! It was a great night of celebration of ‘America’s love affair’ with the car and a fitting end to the journey.

On Saturday morning we moved the 3 cars into Cobo Hall where the North American International Auto Show is held each January. Light poured in windows with views of the river and Canada across the way. Facilities were modern, fresh and classy. This was a place worthy of America’s most pre-eminent auto show. And what a show it is—with over $200,000,000 in exhibitions!

Saturday night The Robb Report held its annual Galleria event in cooperation with the NAIAS at the MGM Casino. Fantastic food and drink greeted the 500 well-groomed men and fashionable women who had come for the unveiling of some 30 ‘exotic’ and ‘super’ cars. The cars were amazing to experience!

Our crew had a parting drink and group hug at the close of the Robb Report party and a toast with Rod, Paul and Lisa as well. All of us  reveling in the success that our efforts—and the efforts of so many others—had wrought.

The media remained enthusiastic about our journey as well and Monday I had the opportunity to interview with a number of them including Car and Driver and a live broadcast on The Robb Report TV. As the sun began to set on the day and on The Drive Home, I sat alone for virtually the first time in 2 ½ weeks I could bask in, I could enjoy, what we had all accomplished together to promote the Museum, the NAIAS, the resurgence of Detroit and ‘America’s love affair with the automobile’. We should all be proud and satisfied.

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The Drive Home: FAQs and Numbers

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By William Hall. Photos by the author and Derek Klein.

The Drive Home, a cross-country tour from America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, to The North American International Auto Show in Detroit, has concluded. The crews have returned home, and the cars have settled into the Cobo Center where they will be on display to the public from January 11 to 26. We crunched the numbers and answered some of the questions submitted by Hemmings readers.

Who owns the cars? All the cars are part of Tacoma’s LeMay-America’s Car Museum permanent collection. The 1961 Chrysler 300G and the 1957 Chevy Nomad had sat on display for about five years before getting a comprehensive refurbishment for the trip; the 1966 Ford Mustang had seen more recent but infrequent use. The cars were selected for their representation of the Big Three American automakers, the eras they defined, and the available cars among the most roadworthy from the ACM Collection.

Read the rest in Hemmings News.

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The Drive Home: Woodward Avenue

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By William Hall. Photos by author and Derek Klein.

Like Caesar returning to Rome after his conquests, the three classic cars of The Drive Home made their way down Woodward Avenue in suburban Detroit to a hero’s welcome in Cadillac Square after a 3,100-mile cross-continental drive. These three chariots were led by a state police escort and accompanied by approximately 30 local classic cars down the historic cruise strip to downtown, flanked by camera cars and ride-along newscasters. The drivers were treated like celebrities, answering questions and posing for photos for the teeming international motoring press in town early for the North American International Auto show. Starting at Lincoln of Troy with a frenzied morning media blitz, the motorcade glided through stoplights and into the heart of the town that they were built in.

The reception was beyond anything The Drive Home crews had envisioned. Veteran Detroit motor journalists, some of whom were along on The Drive Home, confided that they had never seen this level of excitement for such an event. The mainstream media was prevalent, and all three major news networks carried footage of the arrival. Given the over-the-top reception, it’s fairly certain the America’s Car Museum and the North American International Auto Show will endeavor to do this next year. The organizers have heard the feedback from the public and alternate starting points and itineraries will be considered. The hope is that more people will heed the call and join the journey.

Read the rest in Hemmings News.

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Final Drive Home update from ACM CEO David Madeira

We made it!  The cars were escorted in to the Motor City by the Michigan State Patrol accompanied by numerous collector vehicles and an amazing press contingency. We held a press conference with NAIAS, hosted by our good friend, Lisa Dancsok from Rock Ventures/Opportunity Detroit at Cadillac Square. She has arranged an amazing party set up with 50s theme for more than 500 people. It is an amazing celebration and fantastic prelude for the opening of the foremost auto show in the nation and our great partner – the North American International Auto Show. This my friends is only the beginning!

David

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Day 11 update on The Drive Home from ACM CEO David Madeira & Credit where credit is due

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As I wheeled the Mustang into the Shell station in Schaumburg for the Caffeine & Gasoline event yesterday morning I was delighted to see two red mid-60s Mustangs arrive at the same time. Shortly thereafter a number of other collector cars joined our gathering at the station where Shell provided donuts and coffee and gave out free gas cards to customers arriving at the pump. Not only did this generate good will for Shell but it provided an opportunity for ACM staff to interact with customers and tell them about The Drive Home.

We left Schaumburg and drove into Chicago down picturesque Lake Shore Drive before turning south and east into Indiana and our final dash to Michigan. Four collectors joined the caravan and escorted us for about 60 miles before turning back to Illinois. A number of these had been with us for all three Illinois events and had become good friends of the Museum.

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We arrived in Birmingham at the Townsend Hotel where tonight we and the North American International Auto Show will host a private celebration on the eve of our final journey down historic Woodward Avenue into the Motor City. We have put over 3,000 miles on the cars on this amazing rolling celebration of Detroit and America’s cars.

We arrived with all cars in great shape– running better and faster than when we set out. The Drive Home crew had bonded on the journey through our shared experiences which included the ability to view the beautiful variety of the American landscape and to interact with car enthusiasts and curious public along the route. As we drew close to Birmingham I had a chance to contemplate the origins of the journey and all those who made it possible. While I have been the visible ‘face’ of so much of the journey the truth is that there are a number of individuals and organizations whose involvement is what ensured success and to whom we owe our most sincere thanks. It is with that in mind I want to recognize our corporate partners and give credit where credit is due.

TDH_RallyMap_with_stopsFirst, of course, is our partner in The Drive Home — the North American International Auto Show and Detroit Auto Dealers Association and, in particular, Rod Alberts, the Executive Director of both organizations. Their involvement leading to The Drive Home began more than ten years ago when I, an unknown newcomer to the enthusiast community, approached Rod and shared our vision to build America’s Car Museum and asked if he would allow us to exhibit classic cars at the NAIAS to provide exposure to the automotive media, manufacturers and general public to promote our ‘brand’.  Many busy execs would not have agreed to see an unknown person obviously wanting something, but Rod the consummate nice guy and also someone who is always exploring creative ways to refresh the Auto Show and stay ahead of his competition agreed to meet me for a cigar and cocktail at the Capital Grille one of his favorite haunts.

I shared our vision and learned about the Show, America’s #1 show, and among the top two or three in the world. Rod had limited space, but generously made room for an ACM exhibit and continued to do so for several years as we worked with him to help him start an early galleria event as well.

While we may have marginally helped the Show, what Rod and the Detroit Auto Dealers Association gave us was important — a world stage and credibility for the brand America’s Car Museum. He also agreed to lend his name to our efforts and joined our Steering Committee becoming an important advisor. I could not have found a better friend and partner for our efforts than Rod who has directed the auto show for more than 25 years now and is well-respected throughout the industry for his creativity, energy, leadership and integrity.

While we ceased regular exhibits over time (all things run their course), Rod and I would meet whenever I was in Detroit most usually to share a cigar and cocktail and sometimes a meal moving to Churchill’s a great cigar bar in Birmingham. And, similar in our approaches, we would bat about ideas to work together in new ways to promote our institutions and America’s love affair with the car.

In September 2014 Rod and I met once again at Churchill’s –seems to be a theme here–and began to talk again about how to collaborate in a way uniquely different than commonly done by auto shows or museums– who rarely partner anyway. We hit on the theme that cars are meant to be driven and the best way to promote enthusiasm for the car is to drive them and to let the public see them and appreciate them as moving art and as vehicles which bring us pleasure and autonomy in a too regulated world.

We knew that road rallies are nothing new but that winter rallies are rare. We recalled post WWII America when Detroit and the auto industry were on top of the world and car design reflected the boldness of the country. We recalled that everyone drove in the snow and ice resorting to all kinds of tricks–such as cramming cardboard in front of radiators to keep engines warm and assist heaters– as we drove on daily business and long trips through the worst of winters. It wasn’t brave or unusual. Few flew anywhere. We simply drove.

And so we decided to celebrate that era, the auto industry, and Detroit as THE Motor City by staging a cross country winter drive from the Museum in Tacoma, Washington, some 2,900 miles to Detroit to open THE Auto Show. What could be better than ‘America’s Auto Show’ and ‘America’s Car Museum’ to partner in this celebration of America’s love affair with the automobile across nearly the entire country!

We shook hands agreeing to see if we could get it done as it required the right cars, sponsorships, planning etc. We promised to do some background work and get back in touch. Little did we know that enthusiasm for the project would come so quickly and make it all happen.  But it did.

The next morning I caught a flight for Bloomington, Illinois, to meet with Ed Gold, the Advertising Director for State Farm, with whom I had also formed a partnership and friendship over the years. Ed’s also energetic and creative and a car guy–Mustang enthusiast in fact –and it was Ed who developed the now decade old partnership between State Farm and ACM. Over the years State Farm has supported the Museum construction, its annual operations and to this day State Farm is the Presenting Sponsor of the Museum and has worked with us on a number of collaborations.

Ed also looks for innovative ways to promote our mutual interests and is particularly aware of the importance of effective social media efforts and so when I told him of the idea Rod and I were concocting he immediately said State Farm is in as your first sponsor and made a cash commitment that signaled to me that we could pull this off.

Turns out that Ed was really on to how social media would embrace and promote the drive around the world. News outlets–print, online, radio and TV have covered this in areas far from our route –as far away as Germany in fact. And so, it was with gratitude and excitement that our caravan visited State Farm headquarters several days ago and I could thank Ed for making this trip possible and for the continued State Farm partnership with ACM.

Next up was our other strategic partner–in fact our longest continuous sponsor –Hagerty the world’s largest provider of insurance to collectors of classic vehicles and wooden boats. Again as a newbie to the field, I knew we needed such a partner in the enthusiast community and began to check out a number of well known firms. As always, I knew that you are judged by the quality of the company you keep and it has always been my goal that ACM would be known as a first rate institution of high integrity and that we would align with the finest brands of similar ilk–if they as established institutions would join us.

As I met McKeel Hagerty and saw his organization at work it was immediately clear that Hagerty was the premier company of its type and partner I would want. Fortunately McKeel was also approachable, shared our vision and values and was a leader who ‘makes it happen’. I was fortunate that he immediately embraced our vision as a unique museum–one committed to serving the enthusiast community and promoting the use of vintage vehicles not simply a repository of lifeless vehicles. He agreed to join our board of directors and put the power of Hagerty behind the Museum and our Club Auto program.

McKeel and I became close friends and motorcycle buddies and he became a consigliere to me as I learned about the collector community. Over the years we worked together to create the Hagerty Education Program at America’s Car Museum providing training for young people for careers in preservation and restoration of collectible vehicles and boats–serving a critical need for the future of these vehicles and the community.

And so I approached Hagerty about The Drive Home and Hagerty was immediately on board providing a much-needed ‘advance’ SUV and road service, hosting an enthusiast event on New Year’s Eve at Club Auto Colorado, and promoting the tour and our events among the enthusiast community to help generate the sought after, grass roots, enthusiast involvement throughout the journey.

As NAIAS, State Farm and Hagerty put their vast resources in motion word quickly spread about our plans. Soon their partners, who trusted them and their choice of investments began to reach out to us. Immediately two very important corporate partners joined the endeavor. We had perhaps two critical needs for a cross country journey– appropriate tires and fuels. Think about it. Remember what tires were like in the 50s and 60s and how we struggled for traction in ice and snow, suffered flats and blow outs?  Remember engines pinging from inadequate octane, engine trouble from watery gas, and oils which did not stand up to hard use or which were so thick you couldn’t get a cold engine to turn over? Well thank God that two of the finest providers of these products offered to supply them for the journey and provided cash support and technical assistance as well. Shell –the ONLY fuels I would use as a young man for my high performance motorcycles–and Michelin who interestingly to me also make high performance motorcycle tires which are great in the rain–came on board. Not only did they provide product and cash support of The Drive Home, but they offered technical assistance to our team so we would have the right tires and oils for each vehicle.

Michelin and Shell’s assistance was critical to our success. The tires were flawless in snow, slush and ice and ‘footing’ felt secure. Grip was great. And I was stunned by how quiet they were at high speed. Shells high octane fuels, at times in the west ethanol free, had the cars running increasingly smoothly as the trip progressed. Cautious about speeds early on, by Missouri we were running regularly at 75 mph at length with occasional higher spurts.

I am delighted that Shell has signed a five year deal as the Official Fuels of America’s Car Museum  and as we do driving events in the future Shell scientists will evaluate and report on the conditions of our engines pre and post trip. I have no doubt that engine conditions will show improvement for I have experienced it in the performance of our cars on The Drive Home.

Meanwhile the NAIAS introduced me to Lisa Dancsok, VP of Rock Ventures and associated with Opportunity Detroit which is doing so much to promote Detroit’s resurgence. As a major purpose of The Drive Home is to celebrate Detroit as the ‘spiritual’ home of the auto industry and to promote the NAIAS, Opportunity Detroit became an important partner to our efforts. Lisa knows how to make things happen and once again I found a new friend with vision, energy and the knowledge and ability to bring resources to bear to promote The Drive Home and create a celebration of its arrival in Detroit as a perfect stage-setter for the NAIAS one of the City’s most important institutions for the past century. Lisa put her efforts to bear even flying to Tacoma this fall to learn more about the Museum and work on plans with me for The Drive Home. As a result we are trilled that tomorrow Opportunity Detroit will stage our arrival in the city and host a major celebration on Cadillac Square tomorrow night.

In addition Lisa brought us into interaction with the Robb Report which is covering The Drive Home and sent a film crew to Tacoma to cover the departure. Only the massive floods and flight schedules in and out of Kansas City kept the Robb Report from joining us for the leg of the trip to Chicago. I was thrilled with the ‘reunion’ with the Robb Report for they too had provided early promotional assistance to establishing the ACM brand when Robert Ross arranged a major feature story on our efforts to build the Museum back in 2004. Another important lesson in the importance of relationships!

These important sponsors provided the critical resources for this wonderful adventure which has captivated enthusiasts and media these past two weeks. As we put out word of our itinerary and called for others in the community to join with us to create events along the way the response from clubs, museums, and businesses was overwhelming. We received offers of assistance, provisions of meals and coffee and event venues along the way from Keith Martin and American Car Collector in Portland; Walt Tomsic and Deni Sullivan in Bend; a number of clubs in Boise and Salt Lake City including Mustang, Nomad and Porsche; Glenwood Springs Ford; Jeff Thisted in Silverthorne; the Intrigue Collection in Lakewood; Ace Cafe Orlando in Kansas City in partnership with the Kansas City Automotive Museum; Mark Hyman Classic Cars in St. Louis; the Pontiac-Oakland Museum and Tourism Bureau of Pontiac and the Collector Car Garage in Chicago and The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. All these wonderful friends–old and new–made The Drive Home a rolling celebration of a shared experience in our love affair with America and America’s cars!

What was amazing to me was the response of countless individuals who drove to meet us and urge us on at stops along the way. Some drove hundreds of miles in the old cars they loved and some attended multiple events. And inevitably THEY thanked us for coming and bringing these cars to life and to them!! Incredible!!

The Drive Home has demonstrated to me anew the power of relationships and what can be achieved when you collaborate with institutions of vision, quality and integrity as has happened here. America’s Car Museum is blessed to have such partners and it is those partners to whom credit and our thanks is due! Tonight is our opportunity to thank these partners Paul Sabatini, the dynamic Chairman of the Detroit Auto Dealer’s Association, Corry McFarland, ACM’s Board Chairman, Rod Alberts and I host them to a private celebration of our combined efforts at The Townsend. As a side note, Paul and Rod flew to Tacoma to join in the send off and drive the first leg, so it is fitting to celebrate together here.

Tomorrow is the final drive into the Motor City. The big Chrysler, cool Nomad and spirited Mustang will arrive home.

As activities end and the NAIAS opens, I know that Rod and I will soon enjoy another cigar and conversation and come up an even more interesting The Drive Home II in celebration of Detroit and America’s love affair with the car.

Stay tuned!

 

With gratitude to all,

David

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The Drive Home, Day 11: Oz the Magnificent

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By William Hall. Photos by author and Derek Klein.

Remember when Dorothy laid down in the poppy field, and later awoke to find herself home? Grey tones were gone, and the screen was awash in color. Magic was the rule, and the road was paved with golden bricks.

Welcome to Oz. Welcome to the new Detroit.

After 11 days and 3,050 miles across the continental United States, The Drive Home has reached its destination. What started out as a crazy idea to take three iconic cars from America’s automotive past and propel them through the winter heartland to the place of their birth has reached fruition. The brainchild of LeMay-America’s Car Museum CEO David Madeira and The North American International Auto Show director Rod Alberts, the idea was to return greatness, literally and figuratively, back to the Motor City. And in the most American of ways: to simply do.

So we set out from Tacoma, Washington, on an overcast winter day. Climbed mountains of snow. Traversed windy plains. Crossed the greatest of rivers. The most incredibly diverse and culturally rich topography in the world. In 50-plus year old consumer products – made by Americans, for Americans – that are as competent now as the day they were created.

Read the rest in Hemmings News. 

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