Grandest of Grand | Hemmings Daily

Details about a must-attend event

The collector-car community has an upcoming event that everyone will want to attend. It’s going to be one of those rare shows that people in attendance will be talking about for years to come. A one-of-kind happening that will be more than just a car show, but educational and inspirational for us all.

In July, the Antique Automobile Club of America will be hosting its annual Grand National in Allentown, Pennsylvania. No, not at the usual parking lot of the host hotel or some nearby college campus. Instead, the event will take place at The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage. Readers of Hemmings Classic Car will be familiar with this unique facility, due to the many special automobiles we have profiled from its collection. The complex, like its cars, is simply incredible.

For those unfamiliar with The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage, it is the brainchild of its generous founder, Nicola Bulgari, who, more than anyone I have ever met, has a deep-rooted passion for American automobiles—especially cars of the common man, four-door sedans and Independent-badged models like Nash and Studebaker. Seeing American cars on the streets of his hometown of Rome, Italy, while growing up, Mr. Bulgari developed a passionate appreciation for the cars of 1930s and ’40s America. These are what have fueled his dream to create this magnificent collector-car center. He has a special affection for 1930s-era Buicks, with several rare and distinct examples on display, each of which has been restored to authentic, factory-correct perfection.

The complex, on the site of an old drive-in movie theater, consists of 26 acres housing some 14 buildings. Several buildings are dedicated workshops, where the cars of the collection are restored, while other buildings house the extensive car collection and the headquarters for the Historic Vehicle Association. Smack dab in the center is the restored movie screen, surrounded by a circular road that doubles as a test track.

During the Grand National weekend, all the various collector vehicles—cars, trucks, and motorcycles—will be spread across the well-manicured grounds; about 600 cars are expected to attend. Of special interest will be the vehicles selected for Zenith judging: These are the cars and trucks competing for the honor of Best Restoration of the Year.

The Grand National will be held July 23- 25. Judging for the AACA’s coveted Zenith Award will take place on Friday, July 24, and the Grand National judging will be on Saturday, July 25. But please note: In order to attend this very special car show and take part in all three days, you must be a current member of the AACA, however, Saturday’s car show will be open to non-members. The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage is a private facility and is not open to the public, making this a rare opportunity to view the incredible American cars of this fascinating collection and see firsthand its many restoration workshops.

Dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of automotive history, the AACA is not only the world’s largest automotive organization of its kind, but it is the definitive club for old car and truck enthusiasts; you don’t even have to own an old car to be a member. Besides receiving six issues of the club’s informative Antique Automobile magazine, you’ll meet many remarkable enthusiasts with similar interests, along with numerous collectors and restorers. Best of all, you’ll be able to take part in the upcoming Grand National at The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage, and that alone is a compelling reason to become a member of the AACA. To join, visit its website:

See you in Allentown!

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