Historic Preservation Tax Credits for Your Old Car?

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Winter 2011,
Winter 2011
Original Images:

Ypsilanti is crawling with history, but it’s rolling with it too. Vintage auto exhibitions in Riverside Park and the every-Thursday summer Cruise Nights give ample evidence that all our ancient history is not just old buildings; it’s old cars too. Carmel Robert’s story (below) from the Historic Vehicle Association brings collectors of authentic vintage vehicles up to date on efforts to preserve and protect their prized possessions.

From “Making Your Collector Car a Historic Treasure”
HVA group seeks to extend National Historic Preservation Act to cover vintage automobiles

Should your historic vehicle have the same cultural status and favorable regulatory treat- ment as historic buildings? That was an in- triguing question for the HVA. After taking the idea out for a test drive, it appears that the answer may hold the key to long-term, significant benefits for collector cars.

Historic buildings, airplanes, canoes, gas stations and strips of highway have all found official recognition, status and pro- tection under the National Historic Preser- vation Act of 1966. It’s an odd quirk that the most significant invention of the 20th century has yet to take its formal place alongside buildings and other transportation-related sites and historic objects.

While there are many possible reasons for the omission of collector cars in the existing framework, there is one reason that quickly comes to mind––thinking of our “iron” as historic or culturally significant is counterintuitive to most collectors. The typical collector is more motivated by nostalgia than the thought of preserving a vehicle or being a steward of a piece of history.

We are in our early stages of exploration on this idea, but we have had encouraging dialogue and feedback from a number of prominent collectors and historians inside and outside the collector car world about the benefits of including collector cars in the National Historic Preservation Act. In our initial research we found that inclusion under the Act is always voluntary, and the rights of the property owner remain intact. We aren’t interested in pursuing any initiative that would create more red tape or allow the government to tell us how to use our cars.

The HVA’s mission is to keep “Yesterday’s Vehicles on Tomorrow’s Roads” by estab- lishing a collaborative platform among historic vehicle enthusiasts.

Ypsilanti has hot rods and fire trucks, “orphans” and semis, vintage vehicles and classic cars. Our streets, parking lots, diveways, and garages are burgeoning with history on wheels. And it’s no wonder: many of them were conceived and born right here. They are as much a part of our heritage as are our buildings, parks, monuments, and cemeteries.


Photo caption: The question arose at the final Cruise Night of the summer in Depot Town: We’ve got old buildings,garages, barns, and even a caboose in our famed Historic District; why not include old cars as well?