Frequently Asked Questions

What is the National Historic Vehicle Register?

The National Historic Vehicle Register is a program administered by the Historic Vehicle Association to preserve and celebrate the stories of our nation’s most significant vehicles. Documentation from the program is submitted to the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) where it is then archived in perpetuity at the Library of Congress and made available to the public, rights free.

How are vehicles selected for the National Historic Vehicle Register?

Vehicles are selected the for the National Historic Vehicle Register based on the Four Criteria of Significance. Vehicles can be eligible based on one or more criterion, regardless of their age. Additionally, foreign and domestic vehicles are eligible, however the common thread is an undeniable relationship to the history of the U.S. Five to 10 vehicles are chosen per year that meet the criteria and represent a broad swath of the impact automobiles have had on our culture and history.

What is the process for “documentation” and what does it consist of? Who does it? Where does it take place? Who pays for it?

Our staff historian and photographers, laser scan technicians and engineers and marque experts and cultural historians document vehicles based on the Secretary of Interiors Standards for Historical Documentation and the guidelines set forth by the Historic American Engineering Record. The documentation consist of four major components:

  • Highly detailed photography, that captures primary angles, profiles and important details and identification numbers (example here);
  • Creation of a written historic report that compiles the vehicle’s ownership record, its historic significance and cultural importance, its current state and specifications, and known historic images (example here);
  • Measured drawings based on data obtained from a 3D Laser scan (example here);
  • Short documentary film produced by the Historic Vehicle Association (example here)

Documentation is done primarily at the Historic Vehicle Association’s National Laboratory in Allentown, PA or at a location associated with the vehicle’s significance. It is a costly endeavor and requires significant fundraising and a large time and staffing commitment.

Are there guidelines for the documentation?

While no formal guidelines for the documentation of automobiles have been published yet, our work closely follows the guidelines of the Historic American Engineering Record found here.


Who selects the vehicles that end up on the National Historic Vehicle Register?

Vehicles are selected by HVA staff in conjunction with industry experts, museum and collection curators, historians, and program directors from the Heritage Documentation Programs within the Department of the Interior. Vehicle selection is also dependent on financial support. The documentation is extremely thorough, time-consuming and expensive and thus often contingent upon outside funding.


Is my car eligible?

Your car may be eligible if it meets one of the four criteria of significance. However, the program is not currently open for public submission. If you are interested in having your car added to our database of eligible vehicles please consider applying for a FIVA/HVA Identity Card here. This ensures your car is part of our national database of historic vehicles that may be eligible for the National Historic Vehicle Register and provides you with a simple guide to your vehicles historic identity. Note, this DOES NOT MEAN the vehicle has or will be added to the National Historic Vehicle Register.


Why are there international cars on the National Historic Vehicle Register?

Imported automobiles have had a massive impact on American history and culture and there are many examples that tell a story as equally compelling as that of domestic vehicles.


I have a ____ just like the one on the National Historic Vehicle Register. Can mine be on the Register, too?

It depends. The National Historic Vehicle Register is based on specific examples of a certain automobile that impacted history. For example, we documented an unrestored 1962 CJ-6 Jeep because it was President Ronald Reagan’s primary vehicle for many years and one he used continuously throughout his life on his ranches. If you had a 1962 CJ-6 that happened to be a good example, it would likely not qualify. However, if you had the first CJ-6 it could, in the future, likely be on the Register. Even then, as we are launching this program and looking to demonstrate the massive and widespread impact of the automobile, we are focusing on demonstrating many different vehicles of all types before we list multiple examples of the same make and model. The history of the automobile has spanned over 12 decades with thousands of manufactures and millions of individual automobiles. If you are interested in having your car added to our database of eligible vehicles please consider applying for a FIVA/HVA Identity Card here. This ensures your car is part of our database of historic vehicles that may be eligible for the National Historic Vehicle Register and provides you with a simple guide to your vehicle’s historic identity. Note, this DOES NOT MEAN the vehicle has or will be added to the National Historic Vehicle Register.


Does this mean that the government can tell us what to do with our cars?

Absolutely not. The documentation is meant to preserve the legacy of the automobiles and places absolutely NO restrictions on the owners that have had their vehicles documented. The documentation is a snapshot in time, meant to archive the automobile long into the future even if the vehicle is subsequently no longer with us.


Who funds the National Historic Vehicle Register?

The National Historic Vehicle Register is partially funded by the Historic Vehicle Association, which in turn is funded by its partners (Hagerty, Shell, Pennzoil, Quakerstate). Additional funding is also sought out for the documentation of each vehicle that is added to the National Historic Vehicle Register.


How do I apply to have my car added?

There is currently not a formal application process as we are not taking public submissions. However, if you feel you have a vehicle that we need to know about, please send the details – including photographs and supporting documentation – to [email protected] and we will add it to our ever-increasing list of potential Register candidates.

The program is not open to public submission but we would love to include your car in our database of historically significant automobiles (and provide you with an FIVA/HVA ID Card). If you are interested in having your car added to our database of eligible vehicles please consider applying for a FIVA/HVA Identity Card here. This ensure your car is part of our National database of historic vehicles that may be eligible for the National Historic Vehicle Register and provides you with a simple guide to your vehicles historic identity. Note, this DOES NOT MEAN the vehicle has or will be added to the National Historic Vehicle Register.

What is a FIVA ID CARD and how does it relate to the HVA?

FIVA ID Cards are part of an international system to document administered globablly by  Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA) and nationally by the HVA or equivalent organizations in other countries. The FIVA ID Card is issued based on an application submitted by a historic vehicle’s owner and a corresponding inspection of the vehicle by an HVA Scrutineer. The FIVA ID Card will provide the owner with a simple guide to their vehicle’s history and by applying for a card will provide the HVA with important information to populate a database of historically significant vehicles in the United States.


Is there a museum where I can see all of the vehicles on the National Historic Vehicle Register?

Not yet! The vehicles documented for the National Historic Vehicle Register are owned by different people or institutions and reside in museums, private collections and garages all over the country. If you are interested in seeing one – check the National Historic Vehicle Register page on our website as many are at museums that are open to the public. We also, in partnership with the AACA Museum in Hershey, PA, have a rotating display of Register vehicles. Visit http://www.aacamuseum.org for more information.


I have a 19xx owned/raced/built by ___. Is it eligible?

Refer to the four criteria of significance and remember that the Register is meant to document vehicles that have had a broad cultural impact within the context of American history and the automotive industry. Also remember that the program is currently not open for public submission.  If you are interested in having your car added to our database of eligible vehicles please consider applying for a FIVA/HVA Identity Card here. This ensure your car is part of our National database of historic vehicles that may be eligible for the National Historic Vehicle Register and provides you with a simple guide to your vehicles historic identity. Note, this DOES NOT MEAN the vehicle has or will be added to the National Historic Vehicle Register.


How many vehicles are on the National Historic Vehicle Register?

There are currently 26 vehicles on the National Historic Vehicle Register, each of which can be viewed here.


Where can I read more about the vehicles on the National Historic Vehicle Register?


You can find out more info about the vehicles on the National Historic Vehicle Register here on our website and eventually at the Library of Congress’s website where the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) is available online copyright free.


What role does the federal government play in the National Historic Vehicle Register?


The National Historic Vehicle Register is administered via a partnership with the Department of Interior’s Historic American Engineering Record (HAER). Components of the documentation that meet the Secretary of Interior’s Standards are archived in the Library of Congress in order to make publicly available the record of America’s automotive treasures for generations to come.


Will my car be worth more if it’s on the National Historic Vehicle Register?


While we have not quantified this – and do not deal in monetary value – our experience is that often, additional documentation substantiating a vehicle’s provenance often has a positive effect on its monetary value.

Why isn’t there a _____ on the National Historic Vehicle Register?

We haven’t got there yet or haven’t found a great representative example yet! Our list is long and our staff and funding limited but bear with us, we may get there.

 

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