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Smithsonian lets you vote on cars for exhibit

Wed, 22 Dec 2010

For the next few weeks, you can have a say in which vehicles from the Smithsonian car collection go on display this winter in Washington, D.C.

For what is said to be the first time ever, the public can vote for one of eight featured vehicles, with the top two vote-getters going on display at the National Museum of American History from Jan. 22 through Feb. 21.

To vote, go to

Here is a brief description of the eight vehicles:

1880s Long steam tricycle: A glorified and self-propelled bicycle that weighs about 350 pounds, it was one of the first alternative modes of transportation in a society that knew only trains and horses.

1894 Balzer automobile: This was the first American-made automobile in New York City and the first gasoline-powered car in the Smithsonian collection by British inventor Stephen M. Balzer.

1903 Oldsmobile Curved-Dash Runabout: This car, a product of the legendary Ransom Olds, dominated the market for the five years before Ford's Model T went into production.

1929 Miller race car: Ahead of its time in the late 1920s, Harry Miller's eight-cylinder, supercharged, front-wheel-drive race car changed the racing world forever.

1948 Tucker sedan: This is one of 46 remaining Tucker sedans. Preston Tucker tried to use the car to change the way Americans drove and featured a never-before-seen emphasis on safety, strangely, with no seatbelts.

1953 Glasspar sports car: This is the car that introduced the auto industry to fiberglass. California boat builder Bill Tritt took the design of European sports cars and combined it with fiberglass materials from his boat business. The results were revolutionary.

1987 GM Sunraycer solar car: General Motors produced this alternative-fuel option for a 1,864-mile solar-car race across Australia. The car was able to reach a speed of 70 mph and had a total weight of just 390 pounds.

1997 EV1 electric car: Before GM had the Chevrolet Volt, it had the EV1. It never reached the market, but it paved the way for electric vehicles that offered savings at the pump and luxury features.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Tucker and the Miller were the top two vote-getters.

By Byron Trimble