As you read through our beginning, you’ll see yours, and that of your own region or chapter reflected in this history. It’s about people, sharing their common love affair with old cars.
At some point in time, long before collecting cars was considered a ”hobby” and long before there were clubs, there were a few individuals, fascinated with things mechanical (and elderly) who saw the challenge of resurrecting long neglected pieces of our motoring heritage. A few individuals even began amassing hoards of cars, in an apparent attempt to save some of the many “orphans” representing car companies’ no longer in business.
As early as 1931, as the Philadelphia Automobile Trade Association readied itself for the unveiling of the new models at the annual Philadelphia Automobile Show, it was decided to invite early cars to drive under their own power to the exposition. The owners of several old cars were located and persuaded to crank them up and drive to what the trade association billed as the First Antique Automobile Derby. This event was successful enough to warrant repeating in subsequent years. With each year’s derby, the number of cars participating increased. Under the guidance of Fred Nicholson who had been associated with very early automobile contests in the United States and abroad, the annual derbies became reliability runs. Today, we commemorate those early efforts with our own version of the “Reliability Tour.” To participate, a car had to be 25 years or older. Participants were required to drive from any point 25 miles from Philadelphia. At the time of starting, a telegram had to be sent announcing the starting time. Time checks and traffic tests were the basis for derby prices. In addition, there were manufacturers’ trophies, prizes for showing cars, and other awards in the form of cash – no small incentive during the years of the Great Depression.
In January 1935, on a bitter cold day, the nearly frozen car owners sat before Convention Hall, talked about old cars, and shared some complaints about the derby organizers’ inattention to their request for additional prize money, and the general lack of recognition given to the participants. Two new participants, Ted Fiala and Frank Abramson, sat in a turn of the century car that they had discovered the previous year in a barn near what is now Philadelphia’s International Airport. The 1907 Waltham-Orient had not run in 25 years, and they accepted the challenge of getting it running again. In a short time, they had its single cylinder banging away and did what passed for a “restoration” in those days. Hearing about the Antique Derby, they hastened to get in what they thought would be pure fun, as well as a chance to meet and talk with others enthused about old cars.
On September 20, 1935, having obtained names and addresses of previous event participants, Fiala, and Abramson fired off a letter to each derby contestant asking if they would be interested in forming a club to promote the hobby of antique car collecting and to achieve greater derby recognition. Accompanying the letter were reply cards, and most were returned in agreement.
A second letter was sent October 28, 1935, requesting everyone to attend a meeting to be held at the Automobile Club of Philadelphia. The new 1936 automobiles were due to be introduced in Philadelphia with the running of the Fifth Annual Antique Automobile Derby on November 11, and this time the car owners were going to be come organized. The agenda for the meeting was as follows: “organization of the club and discussion of the forthcoming derby on November 11, 1935, including the question of better and more certain prize money.”
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Welcome to the Antique Automobile Club of America’s North Carolina Region. This Region was formed in 1954 and, with near 1,000 members, has become the largest Region in the AACA. The AACA is the largest antique auto club in the world and has many annual events. NC Region has hosted many of these national events such as driving
The North Carolina Region celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2004 with a four-day Region tour open to members across the country. This tour was regarded as one of the best-run tours of its kind. The Region also holds an annual winter membership meeting that has become a model to which others aspire. This meeting offers a judging school, continuing judges education programs, and additional hobby-related programs over a two-day period. Because of our size and talent, the NC Region has had the honor of having multiple members hold offices in the AACA national organization.