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Customer SpotlightAmerica on Wheels Museum

Posted On: 09/16/2020

About the AoW Museum

The idea of creating a museum in Allentown, PA, to exhibit classic automobiles and educate the public on the past, present and future of the automobile industry germinated as early as 1987; however, it wasn’t until the city put together a revitalization plan in the late ‘00s that the current waterfront location, originally the A&B Meats meat-packing plant, was selected. The museum’s main building was constructed between 2006 and 2008, and the second-floor offices of A&B Meats were transformed into a 1950’s-themed diner – the HubCap Café – which serves classic ice cream treats and hot dogs to visitors.

Almost all of the vehicles currently in the museum are on loan by collectors, and the oldest model is a local star – an 1889 Nadig, which was built right in Allentown. Named after its creator, Henry Nadig, it is thought to be one of the first “horseless carriages” in the United States. The newest automobile on display is a 2004 Thunderbird, which is part of the museum’s current “Feel the Thunder” exhibit that showcases iconic Thunderbird models over the years.

Linda Merkel, Director of the AOW Museum, can easily recall which of the many displays she has enjoyed the most. “I think I would have to pick our very first exhibit as my favorite. We opened the museum with a display of 12 muscle cars from the 60s and 70s, including GTOs, Roadrunners and Chevelle Super Sports.” Her current favorite museum piece is a 1933 Hupmobile. “It has been immaculately restored and maintained. I love the color scheme and rumble seat. And it’s extremely rare, being only one of five in existence.”

The Community Connection

Today, the museum continues to be a hive of activity, with rotating and permanent exhibits and a constant schedule of programs and events that keep the museum in touch with the Lehigh County community. Merkel has a focused and clear vision for the present and future outlook of the facility.

“Our goal is to provide our visitors with an outstanding museum experience,” she noted. “We will strive to exhibit exceptional examples of classic vehicles, educate the general public on the past, present and future technologies of the automotive industry, introduce the younger generation about the joys, benefits and need to preserve our historic and iconic vehicles and provide a unique venue to host private and corporate events.”

Some of the popular additions over the years include the Restoration Learning Center, which showcases the step-by-step process of restoring classic vehicles; the Auto Art Gallery, which displays auto-related artwork by local artists as well as iconic designers; and the Kid’s Restoration and Service Center, where a custom scale model of a 1955 Belaire provides the set for little visitors to get a hands-on experience working on a car.

Restyler Ramps
Restyler Ramps displayed at Museum

Restyler Ramps and Stops at the Ready

This year, Race Ramps donated a selection of Restyler ramps, stops and extender ramps to lift the Thunderbirds in the “Feel the Thunder” exhibit and provide 14 inches of height for cars in future collections.

“[The ramps] bring the vehicles more into one’s line of sight,” said Linda. They will also be a way to “highlight certain vehicles by elevating them off the floor, making them more prominent than the cars around them.” Which, for the Thunderbird exhibit where there are many models to look at, might assist guests in smoothly turning their attention from one car to the next.