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April 2014

The Z. Taylor Vinson Collection

From the January 2014 issue of the Caddie Chronicle (Cadillac & LaSalle Club Potomac Region)
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For over 60 years, Zachary Taylor Vinson (1933-2009) amassed a large and comprehensive collection of printed material documenting the history of transportation, particularly automobiles.

Born and raised in West Virginia, Vinson was a 1955 graduate of Princeton University. He served in the U.S. Army in Germany, then moved to New York City to work in advertising until he graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1961. Vinson practiced law with O’Melveney & Meyers in Los Angeles, California and the International Finance Corporation in Washington, D.C. until 1967 when he began working as a senior lawyer with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a position he held until his retirement in 2003. Vinson played a significant role in the drafting of federal safety regulations governing tires and those requiring highmounted brake lights in the rear window of automobiles, which began with the 1986 model year.

At the age of four, Vinson was introduced to automobile literature when he was given a 1938 Ford trade catalog. Vinson began attending automobile shows to actively collect by the time he turned seven. He would ask that his parents drive him to Huntington’s “Automobile Row,” where Vinson would collect literature from the dealerships located there. By the age of fourteen, Vinson was writing to the British, French, Italian, and Czech embassies in Washington, D.C. to request the addresses of automakers in those countries from whom he could obtain literature.

Click on thumbnail for description

Chevrolet - 1935

Chrysler - 1953

Ferrari - 1953

Jaguar - 1967

Mercedes-Benz - 1953

Studebaker - 1935

As he grew older, Vinson collected trade literature from additional sources, including, but not limited to, automobile manufacturers, fellow collectors, memorabilia dealers, auto shows, and auctions. He eventually amassed so much material that he built an addition to his Virginia home to store it all, which he referred to as his “Autotorium.”

In addition to collecting, Vinson was an active member of automobile organizations. He was president of the Society of Automotive Historians from 1993 to 1995 and served as the editor of Automotive History Review from 1995 to 2009. Z. Taylor Vinson passed away at the age of 76 on October 25, 2009. He bequeathed his whole car literature collection to the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware. The collection opened to the public on January 2, 2014.

Collection Series Descriptions and Inventory
I. Automobile makes, 1893-2010, undated 625 linear feet
II. Automobiles - Miscellaneous, 1904-2010, undated 11 linear feet
III. Automobiles - Vertical files, 1901-2010, undated 17 linear feet
IV. Airlines, 1919-2009, undated 7 linear feet
V. Airlines - Miscellaneous, 1919-2008, undated 4 linear feet
VI. Airplane makes, 1911-2009, undated 5 linear feet
VII. Airplanes - Miscellaneous, 1908-2009, undated 4 linear feet
VIII. Airships, 1909-2008, undated 4 linear feet

Information courtesy: www.clcpotomacregion.org

Zachary Taylor Vinson
From interview with The Automotive Chronicles - April 2004

When we first approached Taylor Vinson about writing the story of his experiences in collecting automotive literature he laughed and said, "Just replace Rick Lenz's name with mine in the article you wrote about him and you'll have my story."

We don't agree. No matter how many similarities there are in collecting, each individual brings to the hobby his or her unique personality and experience. We hope you enjoy reading about Taylor as much as we enjoyed interviewing him. [Click here to read complete article]


Auto Maniacs Newsletter, April 2014



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