In 1917, 30 dealers converged on Washington, D.C., to fight a proposed 5 percent war tax on autos. Their success led them to found NADA.
U.S. mass production of low-cost cars in the early 20th century gave the automobile far more impact here in this country than it had anywhere else in the world. And 1917, NADA's founding year, was an inflection point.
Fred W. A. Vesper, a St. Louis Buick dealer, led NADA in its early years, putting in place many of the structures and a bias for action that served the fledgling organization well. One of the first hot issues: how to improve America's lousy roads.
Of all the dealers who have volunteered to head NADA over the past century, Fred W.A. Vesper stands out. One of the 30 dealers whose lobbying before Congress in 1917 led to the formation of NADA, Vesper shaped the structure and culture of the trade association as its second president in 1918 and 1919.
As NADA has grown and evolved over its first 100 years, generations of leaders have defined its purpose, built its services, expanded its influence and harnessed the energy of its entrepreneurial members.
After the stock market crash in October 1929, the U.S. economy collapsed, bottoming out in 1932. For high-flying U.S. automakers used to virtually continuous growth -- sales had grown in 25 of the first 29 years of the century, peaking in 1929 -- the crash was calamitous.
Every aspect of American society mobilized to support the military effort during World War II. That included the auto industry: Civilian auto production effectively halted from 1942 to 1945, as factories converted to military output.
President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act into law on June 29, 1956, in his room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center near Washington, D.C. It was one of 27 bills he signed that day as he recovered from intestinal surgery.