Antique Automobile Club of America
The formation of The Club began as an independent organization in Archer, Florida (near Gainesville) in 1950. The club at that time was called “The Florida Antique Car Owners Association” with John Russell as Director. On February 15, 1951 Mr. Harry Banks was appointed Director of FACOA.
In January, 1953, a petition was sent to the Antique Automobile Club of America requesting classification and acceptance as a region of this national club. The original Florida Region AACA received it’s charter from National AACA on April 25th 1953. The Certificate Of Charter was sent to Mr. John Russell to hang in his office in Orlando. There were no special conditions required, only that the Club adhere to the general rules of the AACA and the Region was limited to the State Of Florida. The state headquarters was located at 328 State Street, Orlando with Mr. Russell as Director. There were sixty (60) members in Florida. Sixteen (16) of these antique automobiles were in the Orlando area of which Mr. Russell owned twelve (12).
The Club issued a quarterly bulletin and held several meets during the winter season. About 50% of the members lived in the North and spent the Winter months in Florida. The members were scattered over a wide territory, making it difficult operating an antique car club in Florida. Members could not get together for meetings very often. Meets were usually held in Wauchula. In the beginning, meets were held on Sundays; but in April, 1956 they were held on weekdays to permit driving on days when highways were the least crowded. However, the State of Florida was planning a super highway (turnpike) to run from North to South resulting in shorter driving times.
Upon the death of Mr. Russell in 1957, Mr. Jerry Foley became the Director of the original Florida Region. The headquarters was then transferred to Jacksonville, Mr. Foley’s home town. His father was a state senator and was instrumental in bringing about the “Horseless Carriage” designation on Florida license plates. This region was to develop into a number of chapters under it. During the summer of 1965 the National Board approved the application for the formation of the Central Florida Chapter located in Orlando, Florida. The Central Florida Chapter grew and eventually absorbed the original Florida Region. The transition from chapter to region took place during the fall of 1973. The other chapters were also allowed to become regions; however. the Central Florida Region is now recognized as the remaining original Florida Region.
Since 1973 the Florida Region has sponsored seven (7) National Meets [Buena Vista–1979, Hyatt Hotel at SR 192 and I-4–1980, Orange County Fairgrounds–1981, 1982, Casselberry Horse Track–1993 and Lee Vista (2)] and two (2) National Tours (a Sentimental Tour and Founders Tour). The Region has also put on annual Regional Meets most years. National Meets usually attract over three hundred (300) antique cars, motorcycles and scooters from all around the country. National Tours have between 75 and 100 cars and motorcycles, also attracting old car enthusiasts from around the country.
In 2010, Florida Region AACA listed one hundred twenty eight (128) members and over three hundred (300) cars.
Howard Gilkes, Florida Region Historian