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Tuesday, January 24, 2017


I have to say how excellent the timing was with these 2 museums joined together this week and recent turmoil at the AACA club! Can a museum have a flexible agenda and can a car club play well with others?
I have mentioned before that sometimes cars pop up in the strangest places and two of those are state or local history museums! Sometimes it is initiated by a long forgotten automotive industry once thriving in the area so don't forget to check out your local history museum like I did in Springfield Massachusetts
In addition to the Indian Motorcycle display shown last blog the automotive museum was a big surprise! Yes I would classify it as an Automotive Museum
We spoke of The first car mass produced in the USA on the heels of Carl Benz built by the Duryea Brothers (say- door E A) and after a spat brother Frank migrated to Springfield and teamed up with a new partner to build the Stevens-Duryea car!

I was very impressed by the effort involved in the automotive displays

Mr. Barney was a well known Springfield Industrialist

Knox Automobiles were made right here in Springfield Mass. as well and they are proud to have Mr. Barney's preserved right here!


A story often repeated from this era Harry Knox separates from his namesake and previous partners held the name so Mr. Knox builds the Atlas from 1907-1913 in Springfield Mass. A two cycle engine powered the cars and actually sprouted from his short lived Sunset car company on the west coast started by Knox. The year before an Atlas car was built in Pittsburgh Pa. and no connection with this car at all.

You all remember Fisk tires? Eventually became Uniroyal and Discount tire revived the name in 1996 under contract from Michelin.  

Some 3000 Rolls Royce cars were built right in Springfield Mass the only place besides the UK they were built! 
An early car guy, Mr. Swift traveled from his home in Hartford Connecticut to see the Rolls Royce factory as he was so impressed by the plant and car!
It was a Graduation present from dad!
 He has the record of 77 years single ownership having put 120,000 miles on the car mostly around Hartford he drove it until 2005 just before he passed at 102 years old!
The car would return to the factory to get advice from the workers on maintenance! 
M. Allen Swift used this Rolls Royce Phantom 1 for 77 years and 2 months prior to his death funded the Springfield museum to build a new innovation museum and this is his beloved Rolls Royce as the center piece of the history museum which is known as the Wood Museum of Springfield History.
The car is beautiful and it is just a honor for us to see it preserved back in Springfield. Chances are it would have been auctioned at an estate sale and seldom seen so why are museums needed, ask the AACA club? When you are a true car enthusiast you can connect with a story like this and almost feel Mr. Swifts presence and I can imagine he is looking down and smiling as the 1000's of people are still appreciating his pride and joy!  

This Springfield built Rolls Royce was owned by the Friendly's co-founder!  
Friendly's another Springfield company!

This Pierce Arrow was purchased in Springfield by the Absorbine Products founder, another local company. 

Yes it has less than 3000 miles! 
Although these were built in New York State it has a connection with Springfield

Freezing cold outside, in fact it started to snow while I was there and I was enjoying a great warm history of vehicles in a museum! 
This was all on the way to CARHUNTER's stop at the Saratoga Automobile Museum in NY
SAM as they are known switches out exhibits to keep the museum exciting and welcome to GOW
I had to ask, it's  Gas Oil and Water, that's all we need right? 
Rolling Bones is an Albany area hot rod shop in every definition! 
The cars are themed as Salt Flat record setters 

Cars like this are driven cross country then "undressed" for competition!

Chopped roof's to cut the wind

Some of us wish our garages looked like this!

Early HEMI, Packard grille and an epoxy faux oil stain for full effect! 

You know flames do make a car look like it's going 100mph!

If you are unaware Salt Flat Racing is an all out speed contest on a dry lake bed, yes that is Salt!
I gotta build one of these rides!


The Race of Gentleman is held on a beach in NJ and one on the Left Coast. TROG is a weekend filled with old seat of the pants hot rod racing! 
Right down to the flag girl!

The museum usually rotates its permanent exhibits which are more mainstream and yes they do display antique original and historically significant vehicles. SAM also is flexible enough to shatter the stogy museum image and break tradition by daring to put a bunch of seat of old school hot rods on display!

A new thought, maybe a hot rodder steps foot in a museum and gains new appreciation for a Franklin or Pierce Arrow normally not something they have experienced 

Maybe someone who appreciates a Paterson Motor Buggy sees the world of Rolling Bones and it makes them smile while earning a new respect for these fast buckets of bolts downstairs! 

Always like to see the New York built Playboy

I feel it important to be as honest as possible when I post shows and museums so this new "opinion" will appear from time to time on the blog.  
Groucho Marx once said "I don't want to belong to any club that would accept people like me as a member!"
That was stated in a wire "Please accept my resignation"
The CARHUNTER has followed his advice!
Groucho also said
 "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read"
CARHUNTER has been doing a ton of reading the last week and in deep thought like Groucho!
We need to set the stage before we can rumble!
The AACA Antique Automobile Club of America is the largest worldwide automobile club formed in 1935 now with  60,000+ members in 50 countries having 600 regions and chapters.
The AACA Museum came about in 2003 with support and funds from the AACA and donations from members as a separate entity so donations and gifts could be accepted. I do not want to discourage anyone from joining the AACA if they desire.
You silly folks thought the presidential race was a fight!
As per the Elegance at Hershey, one of the premier Concours D'Elegance events and I need to establish quickly this is not an event of the AACA.
From The Elegance at Hershey site I quote the following;

 "Long ago the club realized that each generation is nothing more than stewards of the cars they collect, protecting them for the generations to come. To foster this stewardship and keep the flame of preservation and collecting alive, AACA, NOW a 501 (C) (3) charitable organization, founded a Library in 1981 and a museum  in 2003 (Now an independent organization)."
Half of the proceeds from The Elegance At Hershey will go to the AACA to be divided equally between the Museum and Library.
50/50 huh?
If you are a member of the AACA museum you have unlimited access to the museum, but be clear you are not a member of the AACA.
If you are a member of the AACA you do and will continue (so far) to have unlimited access to the AACA museum
You can not display a car at an AACA event if you are not a member of the AACA
You can not join a region or chapter unless you are a member of the National main AACA club.
The photo above is the Fall meet in Hershey which has been organized by the Hershey Region since 1955 and is the largest swap meet of it's kind.
The AACA publishes a great magazine and is part of the AACA Club membership.
At this point it sounds like a perfect happy marriage or at least many of us thought it was!
Recently the auto community was advised that a 4 year disagreement between the AACA club and AACA museum has been ongoing coming to an ugly head for the beginning of 2017!
As each side unravels their position in the situation to be honest it is very hard to fully understand the AACA club explanation and I am not the only person I spoke to who agrees.
The museum has maintained their continued open offer to try and find a mutual agreement to the entire situation. The AACA museum has repeatedly stressed that they will continue to honor the unlimited access to all AACA members acknowledging that it was funded at the beginning by AACA members and without their support may never have come into existence.
The museum is operating in the black, will continue without the AACA money contributed in the past, which was pulled as of 1/1/17 and wants to maintain the existing management of the museum along with the agenda that has been working for many years.
Step back as it all comes crashing in!  
 It has always been assumed that the AACA and AACA museum will eventually merge into one big happy family with the Library joining the museum on the same property also bringing the offices with them. The AACA has outgrown their current facility also in Hershey Pa. and also speaks of a bookmobile
 Let us try to understand the AACA side of this?
I can only surmise that there is a distain for cars being in a museum by many older AACA members just from reading the many posts on the forum although the director has stated they wish the museum no ill will and hope it continues to flourish.
I have read a statement that is sticking in my mind that the AACA is concerned that the museum could change to a "chocolate or street rod museum" and this statement alone is what unfortunately seems to have locked my opinion in! The AACA has pitched that it should have more of a stake or control in the museum, to which the museum explains no one has a stake or control over a not for profit which has an existing board and agenda that seems to be working fine for years.
The AACA is known for stringent judging and as one friend said he is not interested in nit-picking the use of a slotted head screw in place of a Phillips head securing a fender brace, but this is the kind of scrutiny a qualified AACA judge may deduct points for!
I can appreciate this level of perfectly restored car, but also can appreciate customs, hot rods, street rods and race cars. It appears to most that the AACA members object to cars like street rods or customs being in the museum.
I think the AACA club did object to this "old school" 1940 custom rod as part of a short term exhibit and may be fueling the desire to have more control over the museum.
 The AACA has rejected all offers of the museum handing over a large piece of the property, 3 acres at no cost for them to build the library and offices because there are financial stipulations the museum has asked for in return each year. With the property they would like 50% of all moneys raised to go back to the museum. The AACA has made a profit as high as $400,000 in the last year or so. I was told that a not for profit is allowed to make a profit which is a sorted answer. A profit of a substantial amount for years may cause a tax to be paid or loose the not for profit status. Money can be distributed, but not to individuals. You can start paying employees, that scares me, frankly it is a little above my knowledge to fully understand the rules.
The AACA members mentioned that the museum won't inspire anyone to get into the hobby because most that visit are already car people, insinuated it was just a place for people to visit and made reference to the fact that it is a fixed location so limited. The opposite side of the coin on classic or antique cars is being sold at a big money auction and it goes into a private collection not seen often, probably re-sold and maybe leaving the country for another collection. I rather see a car under that scenario in a museum for all to enjoy and appreciate!
I asked a few questions of the Hershey Region AACA and was shocked by the response.
You must be a member of the national AACA before you can consider a membership in the region.
You must have a sponsor and then be put on a waiting list only if approved would be a member of the region in about a year
No portion of your region nor chapter dues go to the national club unless their individual boards decide to donate money to the main club
You must attend 4 events a year for the 1st 2 years or be dropped!
It appears despite being a dual member of the AACA you still need to pay admission/registration to car shows and meets attended?  
This sounds like an exclusive country club not a fun car hobby!   
When I replied thank you it will help in my article I am writing and it was immediately met with a defensive answer that almost seemed snobbish, elitist or even a bit insulting! The constant response I received from AACA members was I can not have my own opinion and numerous offers to call them so they can give me the facts so I would take their side of the story. I was informed the stiff rules for the Hershey region are to keep people from joining so they can say they are in the Hershey region and not attend events! It is that much of an honor to be an AACA member in the Hershey Region? 
Entry fees at events so I have to ask what the National club does for members?
  What I am taking away from all of this is the AACA club has a large intake of funds, does put out a quality magazine which could just as well be online and the library could be online with access to AACA members worldwide. The AACA made a point to mention the museum is in a fixed location, so is the library even with a bookmobile. It is unlikely an AACA member in Utah will be visiting either facility.
An oversimplified readers digest theme and I believe this sums it up perfectly!
Wants the land for free
Wants to continue by contributing only a small portion of membership money to the museum
Wants to in essence take control of the museum, it looks like they think they lost input in what was to be their museum
I can not find any other explanation than this simple agenda.

Wants to give the land for free
Wants the AACA to split income with the AACA Museum which would be the definition of a merger
Wants to maintain a broad control of the museum including input from the AACA club, but not giving them full power to change the mission of the museum.

CARHUNTER had to ask what is more important to me as a hobbyist, I had just joined the AACA because I realized my membership at the museum did not make me an AACA member when I tried to bring a car to a meet. I was unaware of the ongoing battle and thought I was doing the right thing until I realized the AACA has stopped supporting the museum. Like Groucho Marx I resigned from the AACA and renewed my membership support for the museum!
A very clear statement was sent to me from the museum, I was not told I need to call someone like the AACA said to get their true story.
Museum statement;

"While we are not encouraging people to abandon the AACA, we are certainly grateful for your continued support!"
"The Museum has attempted to operate and negotiate with total transparency.  We believe that if people take the time to read over everything that is out there they will see that this has been a rather one-sided affair.  The Museum offered almost a dozen different proposals that were all rejected without comment.  Now, in defense of their position, the Club will gladly explain to members why they rejected each proposal.  It would’ve been helpful if instead, they had come back to  the Museum with a counter proposal or a request to rethink the items they didn’t like.  Isn’t that what negotiation is about – discussion and compromise on both sides?  The Museum invested a lot of time and effort into this and ultimately it came down to an all or nothing proposition from the Club that would’ve required dissolving the Museum.  That couldn’t be done for a multitude of ethical, legal and financial reasons that have nothing to do with the egos of the Museum’s board of directors – all of which are AACA members (or at least were) – some for decades."

"The Museum did not walk away from the AACA Family.  We will continue to expand and improve the Museum with or without the Club’s involvement.  We have no plans to change our name and Club members will still be admitted free of charge.  We hope the situation rectifies itself.  Going back to the status quo that worked so well for both organizations for the last 15 years would be a good first step."

"All that aside, thank you for being a part of our Museum family.  Your membership, support and enthusiasm for what we do are all important to us!"

Best wishes,

Jeffrey E Bliemeister

Executive Director

AACA Museum, Inc.

161 Museum Drive, Hershey PA

Many classic and antique cars are seen at the museum
An entire fantastic collection of the Tucker car was donated as part of an estate, without the museum the entire collection could have been split up and not installed for all to enjoy forever!

 The Art of the Build may have fired many of the AACA clubs desire to take control of the museum to deter exhibits like this.
It appears to many that this is a one sided argument against working together, I would hope something could be worked out. It looks like the museum can survive and grow without the AACA support and the AACA has the most to gain from a mutual agreement!
It really is a bad taste to many who think the hobby should not have any drama!




1 comment:

  1. Good hobby for good people. Some beautiful vintage automobiles shown here especially the race items.