National Historic Vehicle Register
Daily Activities at National Historic Vehicle Register
Explore a rotating collection of culturally significant vehicles from the National Historic Vehicle Register, powered by the Hagerty Drivers Foundation, at Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.
The National Historic Vehicle Register was created in 2013 in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Historic American Engineering Record. The register is a thorough record of the nation’s most significant vehicles based on the association of four criteria at a national, regional or local level. Archived in the Historic American Engineering Record at the Library of Congress to ensure the perpetuity of our automotive past, the register has four major components:
- Written histories detailing significant provenance and condition
- Detailed photography
- 3D scanning
- Documentary videos
How are 3D scans of each vehicle on the National Historic Vehicle Register created? Watch this clip from The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation to find out.
Current Featured Vehicle:
1918 Cadillac Type 57
Added to the National Historic Vehicle Register: 2014
The 1918 Cadillac Type 57, engine number 57A704, was built in the summer of 1917 and delivered on July 31 to Cadillac distributor Inglis M. Uppercu of the Detroit Motor Car Company in New York City.
The Rev. Dr. John H. Denison bought the car on August 9, 1917. Denison, a member of a wealthy Massachusetts family and a pastor, had entered service with the YMCA earlier in August. He then turned over the car to the YMCA, along with his services as a driver, to support the United States’ efforts in World War I. Denison sailed to France on August 11, 1917.
The YMCA was the lead human services support organization in Europe for the U.S. military, known there as the American Expeditionary Forces. The Cadillac was given the military designation U.S. 1257X. It was the 257th passenger car to be registered. The “X” indicated it was serving as a privately owned vehicle.
While in service for the YMCA, Denison helped establish numerous military leave areas in France. In doing so, he chauffeured Eleanor Butler Roosevelt, the wife of Theodore Roosevelt III (son of President Theodore Roosevelt Jr.) in the Cadillac. Eleanor Butler Roosevelt was essential in the formation of the leave system during the war. She also was the first American woman sent to France by the YMCA and was charged with organizing women’s activities related to its war efforts.
Denison and U.S. 1257X served at the front during the Second Battle of the Marne, the key turning point that led to the end of the war on November 11, 1918. It was then called Armistice Day, a date we now celebrate as Veterans Day. Denison served with U.S. 1257X throughout France for two years until returning to New York in August 1919.
Following the war, the Cadillac remained in France until Denison went back and toured Europe with it, later returning the car to the United States and touring the western part of the country in it. The car’s whereabouts became unknown until 1936, when Major M.C. Bradley, a military memorabilia and surplus collector, bought the Cadillac and held it until 1968. The current paint and military livery adorning the car may be attributed to this period of ownership. After passing through many collectors since then, U.S. 1257X was last purchased in September 2005 by its current owner, Marc L. Lassen.
Photos courtesy of Hagerty Drivers Foundation.