HVA Matters: Celebrating the Survivors
The popularity of preservation-class vehicles continues to gain momentum in show circles and among everyday historic vehicle owners across North America. President and Director of the Historic Vehicle Association, Mark Gessler, explains how the HVA is at the forefront of this exciting new movement and what it means for the future of the hobby.
Until recently, getting involved in the collector car hobby meant shopping around for a great deal on a classic and then working toward restoring all its imperfections. But more people are beginning to realize that old, untouched cars, like antique furniture and pieces of fine art, are an increasingly rare and romantic commodity.
Vehicles that survive the decades in a largely original state are drawing a lot of attention at club events and car shows. These preservation-class vehicles have stories to tell and perfectly illustrate original craftsmanship, materials, manufacturing techniques and finishes. Here’s what HVA’s Mark Gessler has to say about why “survivor cars” are important and what this new philosophy of preservation means for the future of the hobby.
How does the Historic Vehicle Association define a "preservation class" vehicle?
Gessler: These are vehicles that retain much if not all of their original mechanical components, body, interior and finishes.
What is the HVA doing to support the preservation movement across North America?
Gessler: Several of the largest and most influential clubs and organizations in the collector car hobby — the Antique Car Club of America, the Classic Car Club of America, Bloomington Gold and The Survivor™ Car Show, to name a few — are all working to encourage old vehicle preservation.
The HVA has developed judging criteria and a preservation trophy for cars and, more recently, motorcycles. In 2013, the HVA will present the HVA Preservation Trophy at more than 15 nationally significant shows and concours, from Carlisle to the Amelia Island Concours.
No vehicle is completely original. But some cars do come captivatingly close. The HVA Preservation Trophy recognizes and celebrates these one-of-a-kind vehicles and the amazing stories they have to tell.
What is fueling the interest in preservation-class vehicles, and what kind of impact has this had on the hobby?
Gessler: For a long time, most old cars were restored, and club meets and shows provided an opportunity to display the finished product. But many times the fit, finish and craftsmanship on these cars actually exceeded the original condition of the vehicle.
By the late 1980s, many clubs and events began to recognize that original examples of the world’s most important vehicles were becoming lost. To encourage the preservation and display of vehicles that were largely unrestored, they began to introduce judging events designed to counter this trend. Thanks to the captivating stories behind every well-maintained original, these cars generate interest in the hobby from outside the classic car community.
What kinds of resources does the Historic Vehicle Association provide members interested in learning more about vehicle preservation and how to get involved in preservation class judging events?
Gessler: We are committed to developing best-practice guidelines for care of preservation vehicles. These activities started in 2011 with an HVA Symposium at the Simeone Foundation Museum that resulted in a highly acclaimed book, The Stewardship of Historically Important Automobiles. We have also developed judging criteria for preservation now used extensively in the U.S. and around the world, which has encouraged organizers to create preservation classes and opportunities for these important artifacts of our automotive heritage to be seen.