The Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) now has an ongoing display here at the AACA Museum, Inc. with the ability to share a variety of historically significant vehicles throughout the year with visitors to the Museum.
A 1933 Graham Blue Streak 8 Sedan is the first vehicle on view. It is on loan and was painstakingly restored by The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage. The Graham Blue Streak is likely best known for its streamlined body design by chief designer Amos Northup. The Graham Blue Streak will be on view through December 31, 2017.
Northup and the Graham Brothers – Historical content provided by HVA
Brothers Robert, Joseph and Ray Graham began their automobile business with the acquisition of Paige-Detroit in 1927. The launch of the Graham-Paige automobile in 1928 was a huge success. The company sold over 70,000 cars; the second highest figure for a new company to that point in time.
By 1930, the nation was in the depth of the great depression but the Graham brothers were optimistic that things would turn around. They decided to invest heavily in the new car that would be so far ahead of other that it would sell when nothing else could.
That car would be the 1932 Graham Blue Streak 8 Sedan. It was a new design from the ground up. The chassis was engineered to have the axle pass through instead of under the rear chassis. This made the car lower and wider which improved handling. The eight-cylinder engine with a high compression aluminum head produced 95 horsepower and made the car fast.
The body designed by Amos Northup was more elegant and streamline than anything else on the road. For the first time, a production car had a grille slopped back, the fenders and sides (or valances) which were immediately imitated, and it was the first production car to use pearl-essence paint using fish-scales to create a metallic-like finish. The frame was concealed on all sides. The headlights were painted and not fully chromed to harmoniously blend with the overall design.
The car was an integrated whole not a mash-up of desperate elements, a design built for speed, handling, safety in an elegant streamlined modern package. Ahead of its time, the Graham Blue Streak proved to be a tipping point from the old way cars were built to the new, modern streamline design. More than eighty years later, Northup’s design of the Graham Blue Streak would again make history.
Current day recognition:
In July of 2017, this vehicle was the 19th vehicle to be inducted into the National Historic Vehicle Register. The announcement was made during the opening ceremony of the Concours d’Elegance of America near Detroit.
The HVA National Lab works to document out Nation’s automotive treasures. The HVA National Lab was a gift from The NB Center and is located in a building adjacent to The NB Center complex. Each vehicle goes through an extensive documentation process in the studio which is equipped with an infinity cove about 40 feet wide and 80 feet deep with a turntable floor to rotate the car for photos. The camera equipment was approved for use by the U.S. Department of the Interior and all National Register photos are taken from a distance of more than 60 feet. The photos are preserved in the Library of Congress for the next 500 years and would appear as accurate and distortion free as possible.
More on The Historic Vehicle Association:
The HVA is dedicated to preserving and sharing America’s automotive heritage. In 2014, the HVA established the National Historic Vehicle Register in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior, Heritage Documentation Programs and Library of Congress to document historically significant automobiles in America’s past. The HVA is supported by over 400,000 individual historic vehicle owners, key stakeholders and corporations, as well as individual benefactors. Please visit: historicvehicle.org
More on The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage:
The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage is an institution dedicated to preserving America’s automotive heritage through its commitment to craftsmanship, education, and good stewardship. Located on 27 acres in east Allentown on the site of the former Boulevard Drive-In Theater, the many buildings of this private facility not only provide a home to over 150 vintage American automobiles, they house restoration shops and a dedicated track for this collection which is ready to be driven. The focal point of The NB Center is what is commonly referred to as “The Lodge”; a strikingly beautiful facility handcrafted from wood and stone salvaged from 2 period barns in-state. It houses the new state-of-the-art projection and audio system which can be used with the restored drive-in screen on the property. Another very important part of The NB Center is the Historic Vehicle Association’s National Laboratory. Additionally, to share the collection with other enthusiasts and those who will enjoy them, The NB Center automobiles continue to be displayed at public car shows and events, as well as on loan to various institutions.