America on Wheels of Lehigh Valley
Video released on: February 25, 2011
Welcome to this episode of Lehigh Valley Visions. Today, we’re celebrating America. After all, what’s more American than climbing behind the wheel and hitting the open road?
I’m in Downtown Allentown today at America on Wheels. It’s a 2-storey museum dedicated to over the road transportation, whether they have two wheels, four wheels, or even 18, vehicles have defined our country for more than a century. What we drive is a personal statement. It’s a symbol of our success, our independence, and our ambition. Let’s go for a ride down memory lane. You’ll see the same models your parents owned, the car you learned to drive on, the truck that brought commerce right to your door, and maybe even the first car you ever owned. If it has wheels, then it belongs in this museum. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, carriages, and much more can be found in the museum’s lobby and galleries. There are also hot rods and sports cars, emergency vehicles, and even a real UPS truck.
Remember door-to-door salesmen? Then check out this car used by a vacuum cleaner salesman with the antique vacuums still in it. The museum’s interactive exhibits let you test your knowledge of auto tools and their functions. You can do things like practice driving like your own Mack truck. Mack trucks have been synonymous with Lehigh Valley since 1905 when it established its world headquarters in Allentown. America on Wheels is home to many Mack vehicles, including one of the first models of an enclosed cab truck.
Recognize this Schwinn? Perhaps you owned one growing up or envied a friend who had one. It’s a replica of the bike that Pee-wee Herman rode in his film, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.” You could say it was the most memorable part of the film. That and the crazy tequila dance he did. Remember?
The gallery on the second floor features [inaudible 00:02:10] exhibits with different themes such as British cars, muscle cars, and classic cars. The latest exhibit features dragsters and pays tribute to the drag racing era of the 50’s and 60’s. Many of these dragsters are a family affair passed along from parent to child and modified through the generations to create a family heritage of speed, excitement, and fun.
It’s time to take a break, and there’s nowhere better here than here in the Hubcap Cafe. It’s an authentic, restored 1953 soda fountain from Weber’s Pharmacy in Indiana, and it’s been in storage since 1963. You can sit at the counter and order milkshakes, ice cream floats, hotdogs, and other treats from the soda jerk, just like when you were a kid. Don’t forget to play a few oldies on the restored Seeburg Jukebox.
The Soapbox Derby exhibit includes some of the most notable homemade cars in the history of the derby, including several races locally over the years. These unpowered cars can gain speeds of up to 35 miles per hour in a race. A kit for building a derby car runs about $650 plus a uniform and a hat, so racers get sponsors to help cover the cost.
I’m just looking for some souvenirs here in the gift shop before I head out. By the way, I wanted to mention that there is meeting space here that can be rented. The entire facility can be rented as well for special events as well. They also offer group tours and school field trips. Well, I think that’s it for this tour. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for joining me for this episode of Lehigh Valley Visions.