Birmingham, Michigan — The automobile is a crucial part of American history, and new legislation is now in motion to establish a National Historic Vehicle Register that would document and preserve information on historically significant vehicles in the Library of Congress.
U.S. Representative Gary Peters (D-MI) announced and explained the bill alongside Historic Vehicle Assocation president Marc Gessler. Vehicles cleared to join the Register (pending approval from the Department of the Interior) must be historically significant in association with an important person or event, as a work of a master craftsman, or as a top example of a specific vehicle or restoration.
“We have a duty to celebrate and preserve our automotive heritage,” said Representative Peters. If accepted, vehicles joining the Register will be photographed in preservation-spec black-and-white negatives, 3-D scanned to produce technical drawings, and included with a description and narrative of the vehicle’s significance. Both domestic and foreign cars, as well as motorcycles, trucks, prototypes, hot rods, and custom cars, will be eligible.
To demonstrate the great variety and breadth of the types of vehicles that could be representing in the National Historic Vehicle Registry, six historic vehicles were on display at the announcement in Birmingham, Michigan. One vehicle, a 1918 Cadillac Type 57 that saw service in Europe during World War I, is already part of the Registry. Also on display were a 1910 Buick 60 Special “Bug”, a 1957 Chrysler Imperial Crown Sedan, a 1967 Dodge Deora Custom, a 1963 Ford Mustang II Prototype Concept, and a 1964.5 Ford Mustang fully restored recently by classic-car insurer Hagerty. For examples of the cars’ worthiness of inclusion in the registry, the Buick “Bug” is one of the earliest examples of manufacturer involvement in racing, while the Chrysler Imperial is a shining example of a vehicle in a high-level restored condition.
Four vehicles have thus far been accepted into the Registry, including the Type 57: a 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona, a fiberglass 1964 Meyers Manx dune buggy, and the 1938 Maserati 8TCF “Boyle Special” which won the 1939 and 1940 Indianapolis 500.
Perhaps most interestingly, owners in possession of a vehicle added to the Register will not be limited in their ability to modify accepted vehicles. The Act is purely meant to take a snapshot of the car for preservation and historical significance.
Peters hopes to have the bi-partisan piece of legislation passed by the end of the year.