This years AMCRC International
Convention was held at the California
Automobile Museum in Sacramento CA. While the AMCRC car show was
held on the museum grounds, members were free to check out the
exhibits in the museum. AMCRC member Larry Daum did just that
and sent along some pictures to share. Click
here to check out Larry's pictures, or read on to get a history of
1982, a group of volunteers met to discuss the concept of an auto
museum to be located in Sacramento--the first auto museum in the West
to be established in perpetuity. Before the close of the meeting, a
challenge was made by an attendee, who produced a one hundred dollar
bill and asked who among the group would match it. Five additional one
hundred dollar bills came forth and the plan was born. The paperwork
was begun to form the non-profit corporation and foundation, and the
fruition was seen exactly one year later, on October 5, 1983, when the
California Vehicle Foundation was established.
The group adopted
the slogan “On the Road to a Car Museum” and meetings were held each
week for the direction of museum development. The Mission Statement of
CVF became: to develop an every-person auto museum. The first auto to
be donated to CVF was a restored 1938 Buick sedan, a gift from John
Joyce, president of the Golden One Credit Union, which is still on
display at the museum.
In 1985, Edward Towe, a Montana banker
owning the largest collection of Fords in the world, sent a letter
inquiring if there was any interest in his Ford collection as it was in
danger of losing its space in Deer Lodge, Montana. After a search of
the area, it was determined that the best available location for the
car museum might be a 72,000 square foot warehouse, located in the
shadow of the interchange of Interstates 5 and 80, near Old Sacramento.
With supervision and commitment by the City of Sacramento, a CVF
committee negotiated the purchase of the property for the City in
exchange for a long term lease from the City for the Museum.
June 1986, Hadley Auto Transport offered to haul the auto collection to
Sacramento, at no cost to CVF. A very busy summer of 1986 began the
transformation of changing the warehouse into a Museum. Cleaning and
painting, both inside and out, were monumental tasks. The Towe cars
arrived at the Museum on September 27, 1986 at 10:30 a.m. A large crew
of enthusiastic people was assembled to unload the cars from thirteen
transporters and push the cars into the building.
On May 1, 1987
the Towe Ford Museum opened to the public, displaying the personal
collection of Edward Towe, which included one of almost every car Ford
ever made, from the pre-Model T to the Pinto. The Museum flourished in
its early days, attracting locals and visitors to this new attraction.
the mid-90’s, however, in a tax dispute with Mr. Towe, the IRS slapped
a lien on the cars. When efforts to find a buyer for the cars failed,
the most extensive and complete collection of Fords was put on the
auction block. The 1997 auction broke up the Towe Ford Collection and
that could have been a death sentence for the Museum. Not so. The newly
renamed Towe Auto Museum, on the banks of the Sacramento River in the
shadow of Old Town, began displaying vehicles of all makes and models,
creating a much broader story of the automobile through history.
the Museum no longer housed the Towe Collection, in 2009, the Board of
Directors officially changed the name of the Museum to the California
Automobile Museum, reflecting the expanded mission it has grown into
over the last 25 years, which is to educate and entertain while
preserving and promoting the automobile and its influence on our lives.
are deeply indebted to the Towe family for providing the car collection
that began the Museum,” said Karen McClaflin, Executive Director.
over the years, the Museum has outgrown that role. The new name more
accurately reflects our current mission and the broader number of
programs we offer.”
Many of the cars are set off in eye-catching
displays, as a place to educate people about cars; to tell the story of
the development of the automobile and its effect on our lives.
Approximately 25% of the vehicles are currently owned by the California
Vehicle Foundation and the rest are displayed by private exhibitors.
Some of the cars are on loan for a month and some for five years, so
the display is a constantly changing exhibit of rolling stock.