The history of the California Automobile Museum dates back to 1982 when a group of people established a meeting to discuss the possibility of creating an auto museum. The members of the meeting wanted to establish an auto museum in Sacramento, which would be the first type of its kind that is located on the West Coast of the United States. Right before the meeting ended, one of the members held up $100 and asked if anyone else would contribute $100. Quickly, five other people held up $100. This is when the members decided to create an initiative and plan for the museum. Exactly one year after the initial meeting, the California Vehicle Foundation was created.
The California Vehicle Foundation served as an official institution for the group. Every week, members would meet to discuss the museum’s mission and overall plans. Later in the same year, the president of the Golden One Credit Union, John Joyce, gave the museum a restored 1938 Buick sedan. This was the first car to be displayed at the museum.
Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society, Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis Zoo, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
Argumentally the biggest event that happened to the California Vehicle Foundation occurred in 1985 when Edward Towe inquired the foundation if they house his extensive Ford collection. Towe was a banker from Montana who owned the most Fords. The foundation found a warehouse that was approximately 72,000 square feet and took Towe’s Ford collection. After spending a few years renovating the warehouse into a pristine museum, the Towe Ford Museum opened. But, the Towe Ford Museum only saw success until the middle of the 1990s. During this time, Towe was faced with a serious tax dispute that led to the IRS auctioning off his Ford collection.
By 2009, the museum no longer held Towe’s Ford collection. So, the Board of Directors reflected on the museum’s plans, mission, and name. Within the same year, the museum became what is known as the California Automobile Museum. The mission to provide a public institutional display of the history of automobiles had stayed consistent. Today, the museum continues to seek out new automobiles to put on display.
Sacramento, CA: Powerhouse Science Center, Sacramento Zoo, Crocker Art Museum, California Railroad Museum, California Automobile Museum California Automobile Museum in Sacramento, California - Photo: California Automobile Museum
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