Each year the HVA teams hosts an exhibition on the National Mall in Washington D.C. between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument to showcase the cars that we have added to the National Historic Vehicle Register for the year. This year we featured two historically significant vehicles: a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette owned by Apollo XII Astronaut Alan Bean and a 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 Deluxe Station Wagon (Microbus) owned by Esau & Janie B. Jenkins.
During the Apollo program, General Motors enacted a program that allowed astronauts to lease any GM vehicle they wanted for $1/year. Using this program, the Apollo 12 astronauts (Alan Bean, Pete Conrad, and Richard Gordon) all ordered matching Corvettes and designed a custom paint scheme with the help of Alex Tremulis, to make the cars their own. Of the three cars commissioned, only Alan Bean’s still remains after being bought by Danny Reed, a space program and Corvette enthusiast, off of a used car lot in 1971.
The story of the 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 Deluxe Station Wagon (Microbus) began back when early civil rights pioneers Esau & Janie B. Jenkins used it as their daily driver throughout their community to rally support and raise awareness for their Citizens Committee Scholarship Fund and their citizenship schools in which they taught African-Americans how to read and write in order to pass literacy exams for voter registration. Unfortunately, after Esau’s passing, the car lied dormant in the backyard of the Jenkins family for over 40 years, taking the brunt of the elements during the process. In March of 2019, the HVA team travelled to John’s Island, South Carolina to excavate it from it’s decades-long resting place and begin its journey to the National Mall. After extensive preservation work with assistance from Volkswagen, B.R. Howard & Associates, Inc., and the NB Center for American Automotive Heritage, the Jenkins VW was brought to showcase ready condition and
Both Danny Reed and his wife, as well as many surviving members of the Jenkins family and progressive club members, joined us on the National Mall for the presentations of their Stewardship of Automotive Heritage awards, along with talks by Helena Zinkham, Chief of the Prints & Photographs Division at the Library of Congress and Tom Behrens, an architect for the Historic American Engineering Record. Each car took their moment in the spotlight as they spent a week in the jewel box at the center of Capitol Hill. They lit up amongst the night sky of Washington DC to teach all those that passed by about a piece of America’s automotive heritage. Now that the vehicles have been shown, their information profiles will be completed and inducted into the Library of Congress to be kept in perpetuity for all future generations to be able to access and learn about these incredible vehicles.