Review of the MVPA 2010 Convention

Greetings,

It has been a busy month on the historic military vehicle (HMV) front. I have had lots to consider when pondering the hobby.

First of all, for those who didn’t know, the Military Vehicle Preservation Association held its 35th Annual International Convention in Topeka, Kansas during the second week of July.  I hadn’t been to a national convention for about two years, so I was long overdue. I packed loads of magazines in the back of the Jetta and headed out to the convention.

The MVPA has been changing a great deal during the past couple of years. A new President, Board of Directors and Supply Editor have been working hard to press old creases and wrinkles out of the fabric that holds the national MV organization together. And believe me, their efforts show! The Topeka Convention appeared to run smoothly. I heard nothing but enthusiasm for the hobby and the organization.

Sitting at my table of back issues, I did recognize a few trends. First, and it is no surprise, the average age of MVPA members is going up.  That should come as no surprise though. Collecting HMVs is really nostalgia-driven. Folks who started the hobby were nostalgic for WWII vehicles. Those people are getting up there in years. Folks with a connection to the Korean War or even Vietnam simply don’t number as high as those with good feelings about WWII. Couple this with the fact that vehicles are just not flowing into the surplus market as rapidly as they did after any one of those three wars, and you can see why there isn’t any real growth spurt on the horizon.

But that doesn’t mean the Board of the MVPA isn’t trying. They made a brilliant alliance with AMPS, the Armor Modeling and Preservation Society. The local AMPS chapter held a competition and display of their work. It was fascinating to watch the interaction between scale modelers and 1:1 restorers. It was like watching two long-lost groups of cousins discovering each other for the first time! The modelers knew the minutiae of details so important to good restoration and the vehicle restorers provided unbridled access to vehicles that the modelers had only seen in scale or in photos. I can see both groups benefiting from this alliance.

I overheard the next trend more than I observed it. In conversation after conversation with well-established vehicle collectors (with collections of 20 or move HMVS), it seems that many are downsizing. A lot of reasons were given, ranging from the economy to simply not having the time to maintain large fleets.

As for the vehicles at the convention, I have to say the quality of restorations and displays has really grown in the last few years.  In the past, vehicles displayed at the convention ranged from “what I drove to the show” to “don’t touch without gloves!” While there were still some of both of those elements at the convention, more owners are really focusing on “displays” or dioramas that help put their vehicles in historical context. This might be an area where the AMPS modelers will be of some critical assistance. MV collectors are paying more attention to the details of uniforms, accouterments, weapons and accessories that are appropriate for display with their vehicle. Moreover, they are attempting to put together displays that tell a story…not just draping gear on their trucks. For example, there was an amazing display of a WWII weather station that centered on the task-built CCKW 2-1/2-ton truck.  There was a great WWII firebase set up in the convention area entry complete with sound affects. Another group of vehicles depicted various Vietnam-era motorpool scenes with mannequin “mechanics” in grease-stained HBTs pulling wrenches. Looking at these scenes made it easy to consider the soldiers’ sacrifice. These dioramas really are good for helping the public to understand that the hobby isn’t about the trucks, jeeps or tanks, but rather, it is all about honoring the soldiers who drove them.

On A Legal Front
Many of you have read or heard about difficulties titling HMVs in Wisconsin. Thankfully, a group of clubs and owners banded together, cooperated and formulated a bill that they felt served the largest group of owners and not any one individual or type of vehicle. Due to the efforts of these Badgers, anyone can title a non-tracked, U.S.-made HMV or any foreign, non-tracked HMV over 25 years old for private use. For more information on the law that serves all HMV enthusiasts in Wisconsin, log onto http://wihmvbill.blogspot.com/.

HMV Tragedy
     While I was at the MVPA Convention, I learned of the death of two Philadelphia tourists who were riding a WWII DUKW when it experienced engine failure, was struck by a commercial barge and sank. [see article] It seems most news outlets haven’t connected the dots between what they are calling a “duck boat” and the HMV hobby. But, eventually they will. These types of accidents are never good for the hobby. Let this event serve as a reminder to all of us that the vehicles that we love to show off to our neighbors, drive in parades or transport our families are antique vehicles that were never intended for a life beyond military service. HMVs are just like elephants: Cool to look at, fun to ride, a bitch to clean up after and they will CRUSH YOU IF YOU AREN’T CAREFUL.

Keep ‘em safe, keep ‘em legal and keep ‘em rolling,

John A-G
Editor, Military Vehicles Magazine and Military Trader

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2 thoughts on “Review of the MVPA 2010 Convention

  1. Natalio Banchero on said:

    John

    As you may or may not know, the Military Vehicle Collectors of Colorado (MVCC) had hosted the 1976 and 1989 MVPA conventions. In 2008, we lobbied for and were awarded the 2010 MVPA Convention to be hosted here in the Denver area. There was considerable debate on this issue and many MVPA Board members wanted the event hosted closer to the East Coast. We won by only one vote as there was tremendous pressure to host the convention closer to the East Coast and, consequently, closer to many cities having more dense populations. At the time, all or almost all MVPA Board members were members of East Coast clubs.

    Following the decision by the MVPA to allow the Colorado chapter to host the 2010 convention, we contacted the Convention Chairman, Kenton Tucker, and immediately went to work. Within a few months we had found a suitable location, negotiated for the necessary accomodations, and had signed contracts sent to the MVPA Board for approval. Then suddenly the fired the Convention Chairman and never bothered to consult or inform us. Kenton had served as Convention Chairman for 16 yrs and was let go as if he had been caught stealing the crown jewels. When the Boards’ decision came under scrutiny, their members immediately closed ranks, began a campaign to discredit the Convention Chairman, and refused to take responsibility for their actions. In fact, Kenton had a few detractors because certain individuals refused to work with him and went outside of the chain of command to voice their complaints directly to the Board. The Board induldged this type of activity and later made several attempts at quashing the opposition and preventing anyone from saying or posting anything which might tell the other side of the story. In response to their actions, the MVCC voted unanimously to cancel the convention.

    You and I discussed this previously. And your magazine does its best to avoid controversial subjects and/or politics (which is why I sent you a personal e-mail). Our club made no effort to tell our side of the story as we believed we would be ‘out-gunned’ and that certain members of the Board would use their influence to quash any opposition (and they did). Interestingly enough, while many at the convention seemed to remember that the convention had moved from Denver to Topeka, no one seemed to know why. Our hobby should be fun – when it gets too controversial, too personal, or too hot, then people quit. Perhaps when the older members of the Board are gone, the MVCC might again consider hosting the Convention.

    Your article mentions the ‘graying of our hobby’ and alludes to several potential barriers that are causing fewer people to enter the hobby. I tend to believe the biggest problem facing our hobby is that many of the ‘younger generation’ either don’t know or care about WWII, Korea, VietNam or anything else. They seem to care about video games, but not about real world issues. I find that many teenagers are self-centered and simply don’t care if it doesn’t affect them directly. I was certainly not like that and had a keen interest in history, any type of history, but specifically WWII. I think another issue is cost. While a VietNam-era duece can be had for as little as $2000, owing a Jeep or any other WWII vehicle will set you back a lot more than that. Adding maintenance, parts, service, and transportation to the mix, one finds that our hobby is actually rather expensive. At the convention, I had several people comment that when they were younger they didn’t have time or money and, now that they are older, they can afford a vehicle but may not have time or may feel ‘too old’ to participate. They also noted how the cost of everything, especially acquisiton and restoration, had increased. This is unfortunate but a true statement.

  2. Dave Steinert on said:

    John,

    I read with interest your comments about the MVPA Convention and about the lack of interest in the restoring and collecting of military vehicles with the younger generation. I’m a member of a MVPA Affiliate group of MV Collectors here in Northern New Jersey. Yes, we still have a core of "older" members whose interest still remains with the WWII vintage vehicles, but we are growing immensely in other areas where the "younger" collectors (Vietnam and Cold War Vets) are purchasing from Government Auctions, 2-1/2-ton and 5-ton military vehicles from the 1970s and 1980s.

    These vehicles can be purchased at a fairly reasonable price and some of them are in great condition. It’s my opinion that the MVPA has to take notice of these new collectors with more articles and pictures in their publications directed at the M Series Vehicles and perhaps they will gain the support of this "younger generation". Our membership is close to 200 members and a majority of these members have their interest in the collecting of M-Series vehicles, and many refuse to support the MVPA because of their lack of recognition in this era of military vehicle history.

    Thank you for my two cents!
    David Steinert
    Newsletter Editor
    Military Transport Association of North Jersey.

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