The Wisconsin Society of Automotive Historians (WSAH), in addition to being a chapter of the Society of Automotive Historians, Inc. (SAH) is a non-profit organization affiliated with the Wisconsin Historical Society(www.wisconsinhistory.org). The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) is one of the most active historical societies in the nation and was established in 1846, two years before Wisconsin became a state.
While the majority of our members are Wisconsin residents, that is certainly not a requirement; we currently have members from four other states and welcome inquiries and membership from anyone, anywhere. The purpose of WSAH is to preserve, advance, and disseminate knowledge of the history of the automobile in Wisconsin, in the United States, and worldwide.
WSAH meetings are held three times a year, with established sites for the official Annual Meeting at the lola Old Car Show in July, at the Hill and Valley car show and tour in Cross Plains in September, and in April at The Wisconsin Automotive Museum (www.wisconsinautomuseum.com) in Hartford, home of the Kissel. Other activities are varied and scheduled as they come about.
One of our major activities, and our primary fund-raiser, is our involvement with the Iola Old Car Show (www.iolaoldcarshow.com) where we are paid for our efforts along with more than 135 other non-profit organizations whose members volunteer. Since 1991 we have planned and staffed the Theme Exhibit section of the show, which involves displaying 200-300 vehicles (including up to 50 for a special exhibit under a tent) and selecting vehicles for the official poster and a variety of other promotional and collectible items including beer cans, pins and buttons, commemorative coins, and model car banks. We sell these items for the Car Show in the special exhibit tent where we display our SAH/WSAH banner and promote membership along with answering questions about the show and automotive history.
For several years we have given monetary support to the Wisconsin Automotive Museum, have donated to various Wisconsin historical projects, and have sponsored benches for the lola Old Car Show. We published the book "Wisconsin cars and Trucks: A Centenary" and produced the video "A Walk through Automotive History with Chet Krause" (Chet is the founder of Krause Publications - now F+W Media - and the Iola Old Car Show). We recently began a membership information exchange and are planning professionally produced videos of some prominent Wisconsin automotive-related personalities, collectors, collections, and businesses.
Our involvement in the Iola Old Car Show, organizing and staffing the Theme Exhibit (for our 23rdyear), continues to go well and is a major source of funds for us. At our autumn meeting we decided on a theme for 2015, as we always have to plan two years out. It's difficult to come up with fresh, workable
ideas. For 2014 our theme is "Four for all in '14" which will include all four-door vehicles - something quite different, but inspired by observing the increasing number of survivor-type sedans, the continuing interest in wagons, and the ever-present pre-war sedans, phaetons and convertible sedans.
Our project to do a video recording and interview of significant people, places, and vehicles related to Wisconsin automotive history is under way and the raw footage is being edited. Our first subject is 83 year-old Gene Grengs of Eau Claire, WI, who owned movie theatres and began restoring cars with his grandfather and collecting them when still quite young. Gene is very knowledgeable and hands-on. He has several Packards, from 1910 to a '56 Caribbean convertible and even has the speed record-setting Packard Panther Daytona. He has two Stanley steamers, including what might be the very last one made (1924), a Model T made on the last day of production (1927), Cord, Auburn, Pierce-Arrow, '57 Corvette fuelie, etc. -40-plus in all, down from about 100 at one time.
We started a member interest/information project last year and in addition to that will now assemble new-member packets with information on SAH as well as on our chapter.
We are also looking into the possibility of electronic publishing on demand for our book, Wisconsin Cars and Trucks: A Centenary.
A few words about our WSAH logo, created in 1979: The "Spark" steam vehicle, developed by Dr. J.W. Carhart of Racine in 1871, is thought to be the first automobile in Wisconsin and, some say, in the United States. The silhouette was drawn from an early photograph and is set within an outline of Wisconsin.
For inquiries, please contact:
Ken Nimocks, WSAH
3765 Spring Green Road
Green Bay, Wl 54313-7565
(920) 865-4004 home, (920) 655-2740 mobile