The Automotive Hall of Fame
In the United States of America, there is a non-profit organization that gives awards to substantive and significant achievements in the automotive industry. In fact, it is a museum called “The Automotive Hall of Fame”. It also deals with the historical heritage of the automotive industry. In this article we will tell about the history, present and future plans of The Automotive Hall of Fame, because many famous names, whose contribution to the global automotive industry is invaluable, have become nominees for the awards of this organization.
Who can be among the nominees of The Automobile Hall of Fame
The automotive industry is a huge area of human activity. Efforts of representatives of many specialties are necessary in order to create a car. The contribution of individual professionals and figures of the automotive industry is so great that it forms a golden fund of the hall’s members. After all, it’s not only design engineers, but also those who work in a variety of support services, dealer networks, who tests pilot automotive projects, who are engaged in motorsport, etc. A particular brand is supported with the combined efforts of financiers, inventors, designers, managers, dealers, employees of rental companies, mechanics, racers, drivers. Each of those who make an invaluable contribution to the development of the automotive industry can be recorded in a special book of The Automotive Hall of Fame (become a museum nominee). Today, the number of such persons is almost three hundred.
How it all began
Back in 1939, it was decided to perpetuate the pioneers of the automotive industry, those who were at the very origins of a car’s creation. In autumn New York, in that year, or rather, on the 18th of October, the project under the name “Automobile Old Timers” was launched. The purpose of this mission was to honor the people who glorified the automotive industry and made outstanding achievements in motorsport. During the next 18 years, the name was stable, but in 1957, it was transformed into “Automotive Old Timers”, 14 years later (in 1971), it was modified to “The Automotive Organization Team”, and even later – to “The Automotive Hall of Fame”.
During the first 50 years of its existence, The Automotive Hall of Fame changed its location several times. Thus, New York was replaced by Washington (in 1960), then Midland, Michigan (1971), and finally Dearborn (1997), where the museum was placed until 2017. In different years, The Automotive Hall of Fame was kindly provided shelter by the National Automobile Dealers Association, Northwood University, the MotorCities National Heritage Area (branch of the National Park Service, dedicated to preserving and promoting the automotive and labor history of Michigan). The Automotive Hall of Fame has a close connection with the Henry Ford Museum.
Modern activities of The Automotive Hall of Fame
Infrastructure facilities with artifacts of automotive history are located on an area of 25 thousand square feet, including a small theater and a central closed area of the building for public events, meetings and other exhibits. There is an enclosed atrium for special exhibitions. Traditionally, The Automotive Hall of Fame annually notes the most important figures of the automotive industry, including them in its list. As of 2015, among the members of The Hall of Fame, was 250 people, including such important figures as Benz, Bosch, Bugatti, Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Gottlieb Daimler, Citroen, Cord, Dodge, Duryea, Enzo Ferrari, Ford, Honda, Maybach, Olds, Peugeot, Porsche, Renault, Toyoda, etc.
In 2014, The Hall of Fame celebrated its 75th anniversary and in 2019 – its 80th anniversary. In honor of this event, an anniversary private tour was organized with the participation of the President of the organization, William Chapin.
During the annual awards, events are held in honor of those who are already included in the list of proud members of The Hall of Fame, and honoring those who aren’t nominees, but have an outstanding contribution to the development of the automotive industry (there were already about 800 those personalities from around the world).
The Hall also honors individuals with significant awards each year:
- Distinguished Service Citation, initiated in 1940 to honor services of representatives from the worldwide automotive industry;
- Industry Leader of the Year, awarded to one outstanding leader each year;
- Young Leadership & Excellence award, which recognizes up-and-coming future leaders of the industry.
That means there are four types of awards.
Detroit – the automotive capital of the world
In 2016, it was announced that The Automotive Hall of Fame would move to downtown Detroit, which had won fame as “Motor City.” The Detroit metropolitan area still has the headquarters of the “Big Three” automobile companies: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler in Detroit, Dearborn and Auburn Hills, respectively. Conceptually, for the museum, this move means differentiation with the Henry Ford Museum (many visitors, after visiting the exhibitions of the latter, don’t go to The Automotive Hall of Fame). To increase attendance, as well as improve accessibility for tourists interested in the history of the automotive industry, it was decided to move The Automotive Hall of Fame to downtown Detroit. By the way, in this museum, in addition to honoring the personalities, there are award ceremonies for the best concept cars. So, for example, in 2008, from more than 40 concept cars and 12 prototypes of production models which debuted in North America during the season of “auto show” in that year, the Saab 9-X BioHybrid which accepted an award in The Automotive Hall of Fame was chosen.
Some names from the Gold Fund of The Automotive Hall of Fame
Walter Percy Chrysler, who lived only 65 years, is known as the founder of Chrysler Corporation. He made a significant contribution to the American economy, but didn’t plan to launch a car company. It happened by chance and coincidence. Since his childhood, Walter was more interested in locomotives, as his father was an engineer of the railway transport company. His father’s workshop was a place where Walter spent all his free time. The current model of a steam locomotive, together with two hundred meters of railway track, was created by him at the age of 18. But his father was against his son becoming an ordinary worker. He wanted his offspring to get a higher education. His dream didn’t come true, but the son became a somebody. Perseverance, diligence, initiative and integrity allowed Walter at the age of 22 to obtain a certificate of a qualified mechanic. And then he was everything – a cleaner at a depot, a foreman, a machinist. Gradually, the steps of the career ladder became higher – the post of the depot’s head, chief engineer and manager of the railway company were mastered by the young man on the fly. Finally, at the age of 33, Chrysler became the head of the Chicago Railway, turning it in a few years from a loss-making business into a thriving one. Walter’s salary also increased in line with his career. Once he ran into a car exhibition, he was shocked by the white Locomobile so that he decided to buy it at all costs. Moreover, in 1912, Chrysler-railwayman became Chrysler-automaker, when at the invitation of James Storrow took the post of head of the Buick car company (hereinafter – Chrysler Corporation). Only ten years were needed for managerial genius of Walter to get the millionth car off the assembly line. The volume of production grew at a huge pace, the profit and income of General Motors increased. But Walter worked in this company until 1919, having struck out on his own and founded his own Chrysler Corporation Six from unprofitable Maxwell Motors. During the first year after the creation of the Chrysler Six, dealer network of the company had already had a staff of four thousand representatives, and the total revenue reached almost $ 20 million. In 1928, authoritative Time magazine awarded Chrysler the title “Man of the Year”. It was after that touched Walter gave the decree to begin financing the construction of the 77-storey Chrysler Building. In the whole world, not only in America, there was no building higher at that time. In addition to this building, Chrysler left the world an autobiographical book “Life of an American Workman.”
Louis Chevrolet – a boy from a large Swiss family, managed to become an outstanding mechanic and racing driver, a founder of Chevrolet and Frontenac Motor Corporation, which produced racing components for the Ford Model T. When the family moved to France, teenager Louis got a job as a repairman in a bicycle shop. Physically strong, two meters tall, he was also fond of cycling races. Once having won the competition, he won 28 races in three years, getting good bonuses and helping his family financially. Louis would continue working as a repairman, from time to time participating in bicycle races, if the American millionaire Vanderbilt didn’t stop at the workshop. His car broke down, and Louis quickly and carefully revived the machine. Vanderbilt was delighted, and said that such a work would bring success in America. Chevrolet moved to Paris, worked in local garages, and, in the early 20th century, went overseas. He worked as a mechanic and driver in wealthy families, as well as in the representative office of the company Fiat. But at the same time he constantly participated in car racing. The audience called Chevrolet “the dare-devil Frenchman”. After all, a lot of competitions ended in accidents, and rehabilitation treatment in hospitals became a usual occupation for Louis. However, gaining strength and popularity. In 1909, fmous Durant invited Chevrolet to become the head of the Buick company’s racing team, and two years later the Chevrolet Motor Car Company was registered. But Louis didn’t become its head. He received a position of chief engineer in the new company, but after four years he left it because of the weak popularity of the Classic Six luxury car. Louis passion for racing continued, but, in one of the motor rally, his brother died, which laid the elder law. Louis tried to become a manufacturer of various units for racing cars, but quickly failed. He spent the last years of his life in Florida, trying to treat atherosclerosis of the lower extremities – a professional ailment of racers. But his name lives on in thousands and millions of Chevrolet cars that drive on the roads of all countries in the world.
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