When we worked in the Old Cars Weekly office, one “club” magazine that we enjoyed reading was Wheels of Time published by the American Truck Historical Society (www.aths.org). Best of all was the fat issue ATHS put out once a year showing every truck that attended its annual convention.
Since we own a 1975 Ford F-350 wrecker, we decided it was time to join ATHS and get the magazine at home. In the new member brochure we found out that ATHS was incorporated in 1971. It was formed to preserve the history of trucks, the trucking industry and its pioneers. Just over a year later the United States Truck Historical Society was included to form a “new” ATHS. Shortly afterward the American Trucking Assoc. officially recognized ATHS as “duly authorized to record and develop trucking industry historical data.”
A headquarters was established in Dearborn Heights, Mich., and the society began printing a newsletter. In 1980, with membership increasing, the newsletter was converted into Wheels of Time magazine.
Harris Saunders Sr. of Saunders Truck Leasing became ATHS president in 1977. He relocated the headquarters to Birmingham, Ala,. and hired his daughter, Zoe S. James, to oversee the library, archives and membership. This was a period of rapid growth for the Society. Membership increased from 350 in 1977 to 1,000 in 1980 and 9,000 in 1990. Current membership is near 21,000.
The annual conventions held each year since 1972 have included a public antique truck show since 1980. The shows grew from 23 trucks in 1980 to over 1,000 trucks, fire apparatus, buses, RVs, military and special interest vehicles.
The ATHS has grown to be international in scope. And has members in 23 countries. There are U.S. members in all 50 states. ATHS also encourages the formation of local chapters, with 94 chapters including five in Canada and one in Australian. There are three division chapters. ATHS’ Zoe James Memorial Library boasts over 100,000 photographs; 35,000 pieces of sales literature; 45,000 books and periodicals and a collection of scale model trucks. ATHS is also planning a museum in Kansas City, Mo., dedicated to the trucking industry.