Posted 08/21/2015 in Articles
Although the view of this publication is generally directed to the present and future of EVs, a recent conversation with Roderick Wilde brought the editor's attention to the 130 year long history of electric cars.
In January 2013 Wilde established the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation with the intention of creating the world's first international electric vehicle museum.
He describes the mission of the non-profit foundation as providing education of the history of electric vehicles from the nineteenth century up to the twenty first century: "We intend to build the world’s first International Electric Vehicle Museum and collect vehicles from around the world for display."
The collection will contain very rare early electric vehicles for transportation as well as delivery vehicles for commerce. The organization also plans collections dedicated to vehicles such as electric micro cars and performance electric vehicles. Along with the other founding members, Wilde has made a number of vehicles available on loan to the museum's collection including his personal 1930 Detroit Electric.
The HEVF collection has found an interim home in the Historic Powerhouse visitor center in Kingman, Arizona. The 3,600 sq ft exhibit is the first major addition to the Museum and includes ten vehicles. The historic power station, a fitting home for EVs, was built in two phases between 1907 and 1911. Originally operated by the Desert Power & Light Company, it was renovated and opened as a Visitor Center in 1997.
Wilde serves as the foundation’s executive director and is clearly passionate and dedicated to the mission. He describes the museum as "the most important project I’ve done in my life." As Wilde relates the story, one of his first moves was to enlist Larry Fisher to volunteer as the museum's curator. Fisher is an experienced museum executive who is currently the executive director of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona California. Fisher is also an expert on US-built electric micro cars.
Roderick Wilde has participated in a good part of EV history himself, becoming involved with EV racing in 1992. For 20 years he was a custom EV builder. His company Wilde Evolutions created "The Maniac Mazda," an electric RX-7 billed as the world’s fastest street-bodied EV at the time, also the "Lectro Rover," a rock-climbing four wheel drive Land Rover and the "Lightning Rod II," an electric 1929 Ford Roadster conversion that was featured on the cover of Street Rod Action magazine. In 2002, Wilde became the president of EV Parts, Inc., a supplier of aftermarket parts for custom built electric vehicles.
Wilde was also a founding member of the National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA) and served in various positions for the organization including president. As an entrant in NEDRA electric speed exhibitions, he was the first person to break 100 mph in the standing quarter mile in an electric powered street vehicle.
Bob Oldfather, founder of Bookmans Entertainment Exchange and an avid collector of historic electric vehicles, serves as the museum archivist and an HEVF board member. Other foundation directors include John Wayland, creator of the White Zombie, a 1974 Datsun conversion that held the title of the world’s quickest street-legal electric drag car for many years. Rounding out the board are long-time EV advocates Chip Gribben and Marty Gay.
The group plans to conduct a fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to purchase more vehicles and to provide operating funds so that the museum can be staffed during regular visitor hours.
The Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. It is located at 120 W. Andy Devine Ave, Kingman, AZ 86401.
The Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation is at hevf.org