Automotive Hall of Fame History
They were called “Automobile Old Timers”
The 1939 New York World’s Fair was the first exposition to be based on the future. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all gave visitors a glimpse of new technologies from “the world of tomorrow.”
At this same time, a group of men met in New York City just a few miles from the World’s Fair to create an organization that would offer a glimpse…of the past.
Its mission was to perpetuate the memories of the early automotive pioneers. Called the “Automobile Old Timers,” the group was dedicated to honoring automotive people from all parts of the worldwide automotive industry.
The organization moved to Washington, DC in 1960. Then in 1971, it moved to the grounds of Northwood Institute (now called Northwood University) Midland, Michigan. The first permanent Automotive Hall of Fame building was built on the Northwood campus in 1975.
It soon became evident that the home of the Automotive Hall of Fame needed to be closer to Detroit. In 1997, another group of dedicated automotive aficionados moved the Automotive Hall of Fame to its present location in Dearborn, Michigan.
Funds were raised to construct a 25,000 square foot building and create new exhibits. A black tie grand opening celebration was held on August 16, 1997, televised by the Auto Channel.
Today, the Automotive Hall of Fame attracts visitors from around the world. It is located next door to The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. It is also within the MotorCities National Heritage Area, an affiliate of the National Park Service dedicated to preserving and promoting the automotive and labor heritage of Michigan.
National Heritage Areas are places where natural, cultural, historic and scenic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.
Hall of Fame Timeline
The Automobile Old Timers organization is launched in October at the Lexington Hotel in Manhattan with the mission to perpetuate the memories of the early auto pioneers.
AOT awards its first Distinguished Service Award to honor automotive people from all parts of the worldwide automotive industry.
The Automobile Old Timers adopt new goals to promote safety on highways and streets, preserve automotive history and emphasize education through increased cooperation with museums and universities, and present citations to distinguished individuals in the automobile industry and highway transport.
Automobile Old Timers becomes the “Automotive” Old Timers to include the inventors, engineers, stylists, manufacturers, dealers and “all others whose combined talents keep America awheel.”
AOT moves their national headquarters to the NADA Building in Washington, D.C, imagining the establishment of an Automotive Hall of Fame and Museum in the nation’s capital.
Walter P. Chrysler, Henry Ford, Charles Kettering and Alfred P. Sloan become the first individuals to receive the Induction Award and be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
AOT reorganizes, changing their name to “Automotive Organization Team” to more wholly represent the people of the industry and to appeal to a younger generation of up-and-coming leaders. In May, Northwood University in Midland, Michigan, becomes the new home of the Automotive Organization Team.
The first permanent Hall of Fame building is dedicated at Northwood University on October 29.
The first Young Leader & Excellence Award was presented. This new award reflected the Automotive Hall of Fame’s commitment to the future of the motor vehicle industry.
The Automotive Organization Team officially changes their name to the Automotive Hall of Fame to fit the institutional mission.
The Industry Leader of the Year Award is first presented. The award is nominated and awarded only by the Board of Directors.
The construction site of a new Hall of Fame building in Dearborn, Michigan is dedicated as part of American Automobile Centennial Week.
The new Automotive Hall of Fame facility is opened on August 16 in Dearborn, Michigan.
The Automotive Hall of Fame celebrates its 75th Anniversary.
The Automotive Hall of Fame celebrates its 80th Anniversary.