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After 12-car donation, Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation seeks to expand its museum

Published in blog.hemmings.com

Photo courtesy Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation.

At about 4,000 square feet, the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation’s museum has only enough floor space for about a quarter of its collection. But it does have plenty of wall space, so the foundation plans to start hanging some lighter vehicles from the walls, including one of a dozen that the Petersen Automotive Museum recently gifted to the foundation.

“At the moment the museum is beyond capacity, but we have enormously tall ceilings,” said Roderick Wilde, the HEVF’s executive director. Wilde said that a trio of student-built solar racers will go up on the walls, including the 2011 Xenith from Stanford University that’s about as flat as can be with solar panels taking up all of its surface save for a tiny bubble canopy for the driver. Joining it on the walls will be the University of Minnesota’s Aurora and Aurora II.

That Stanford car comes to the museum alongside 11 others from the collections of the Petersen partly as an acknowledgement of the HEVF’s work in preserving electric vehicle history. “The Petersen Automotive Museum appreciates the work being done by the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum/Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation in the areas of collecting, preserving, and interpreting, and believes that they can fully exploit the educational potential of the selected vehicles,” Petersen curator Leslie Kendall noted in the press release announcing the transfer.

Larry Fisher, executive director of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and a member of the HEVF’s board of directors, noted that the transfer from The Petersen “will honor the wishes of the original donors and place the cars within the broader context of the HEVF collection (which) has become the premier destination to see and study the history and evolution of electric vehicles.”

According to Kendall, the Petersen considered the dozen vehicles “non-essential.” In addition to the solar racer, the transfer also included a 1987 Suntera Sun Ray, a solar EV built in Hawaii; a 1993 Ford Ecostar, an Escort-based battery-electric delivery van distributed to Southern California Edison and other utility companies across America for a testing program; a 2008 ACGC Pulse; a 2012 Coda; and electrified versions of the Chevrolet S-10, the Chrysler Voyager minivan, and the Ford Focus.

“This is by far the largest single donation we have received,” Wilde said. Wilde, a longtime EV collector and founding member of the National Electric Drag Racing Association, founded the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation in 2013 and started laying plans for a museum a year later. That museum, now located in the powerhouse Visitor Center and Route 66 Museum in Kingman, Arizona, was only intended to temporarily house the HEVF’s displays.

Five years later, it’s bursting at the seams. The HEVF has 27 vehicles on display now — Wilde said the HEVF plans to rotate out some of the current exhibits to make room for some of the newly donated vehicles — and almost 100 vehicles total, some of which need restoration.

Wilde noted that the city of Kingman has sought grant funding to build a larger facility for the museum, one encompassing at least 50,000 square feet, on land that the Kingman City Council designated next to Lewis Kingman Park along Route 66, though that funding has yet to come through. In the meantime, the HEVF has resorted to placing vehicles on display at various locations around Kingman.

In addition to the Petersen transfer, the HEVF has also recently received a multi-vehicle donation from Kent Bakke, which included Dave Cloud’s Dolphin; two electric land-speed racers that Robert Nimcocks built; and a collection of seven EVs from Michael Longley.

For more information about the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation, visit HEVF.org.