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Hot Rods To Cruise The US Capitol

Three iconic cars representing the American car culture will be on display “center stage” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., from April 12 to May 4.


The Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) has announced that three iconic cars representing unique American car culture will be displayed “center stage” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., from April 12 to May 4.

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  • April 12-19: Gypsy Rose 1964 Chevrolet Impala “lowrider”
  • April 20-26: McGee Roadster 1932 Ford V8 “hot rod”
  • April 27-May 4: Hirohata Merc 1951 Mercury Coupe “radical custom”

The vehicles will be exhibited in the HVA glass case on the walkway between the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and National Gallery of Art. The exhibition is free to the public. The vehicles are privately owned and are being commemorated and recorded as part of the HVA National Historic Vehicle Register in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) to be permanently archived in the U.S. Library of Congress.


Gypsy Rose is a beautifully painted 1964 Chevrolet Impala designed to go “low and slow” when it cruised East LA in the 1970s. It was known as one of the most extravagantly painted lowriders of the period and was featured in the opening of the 1970s sitcom “Chico and the Man.” Gypsy Rose was featured on the cover of Lowrider Magazine in 1980.

The McGee Roadster is a hot rod based on a 1932 Ford V8 Roadster. It was built by Bob McGee, a soldier who returned from the war and attended and played football for the University of Southern California. McGee raced the car on the California dry lake beds and used the car to promote hot rod safety.


The Hirohata Merc is a 1951 Mercury Coupe that was purchased by Bob Hirohata and extensively customized by master craftsmen Sam and George Barris at their shop in Lynwood, California, in 1952. It was striped by Von Dutch and featured modified design elements from Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford and Lincoln. Under Hirohata’s ownership, it was driven cross country from LA to Indianapolis and Detroit and back. The car collected more than 150 trophies during the first several years it was shown.

“The HVA’s objective is to share America’s automotive heritage with the American people,” said Mark Gessler, president of the Historic Vehicle Association. “The three cars being recognized on the National Mall represent a uniquely American story of the talented builders that modified production cars for speed and style. These three examples represent true national treasures of the early days of the hot rod, custom and lowrider movements. It is their first time in Washington, D.C.”


This three-week 2017 exhibition expands upon the two-week 2016 HVA Cars at the Capital exhibition that featured President Taft’s 1909 White Steam Car and President Reagan’s 1962 Willys “Jeep” CJ-6.

The 2017 Cars at the Capital exhibition is underwritten in part through the generous support from Shell (including its Pennzoil and Quaker State brands), Hagerty, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and TEN: The Enthusiast Network.



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