At some point in time, long before collecting cars was considered a hobby and long before there were clubs, there were a few individuals, fascinated with things mechanical (and elderly) who saw the challenge of resurrecting long neglected pieces of our motoring heritage. A few individuals even began amassing hoards of cars, in an apparent attempt to save some of the many orphans representing car companies no longer in business.
As early as 1931, as the Philadelphia Automobile Trade Association readied itself for the unveiling of the new models at the annual Philadelphia Automobile Show, it was decided to invite early cars to drive under their own power to the exposition. The owners of several old cars were located and persuaded to crank them up and drive to what the trade association billed as the First Antique Automobile Derby. This event was successful enough to warrant repeating in subsequent years. With each years derby, the number of cars participating increased. Under the guidance of Fred Nicholson who had been associated with very early automobile contests in the United States and abroad, the annual derbies became reliability runs. Today, we commemorate those early efforts with our own version of the Reliability Tour. To participate, a car had to be 25 years or older. Participants were required to drive from any point 25 miles from Philadelphia. At the time of starting, a telegram had to be sent announcing the starting time. Time checks and traffic tests were the basis for derby prices. In addition, there were manufacturers trophies, prizes for showing cars, and other awards in the form of cash no small incentive during the years of the Great Depression.