The Smithsonian is a variable time capsule of American history and as such they have more pieces in the collection than they can actually show to the public. Right before Christmas the Smithsonian announced a new contest to help select two of eight vehicles currently in storage--two of which include the General Motors EV1 electric car from the '90s or GM's 1987 Sunraycer solar car. They are calling the contest "Race to the Museum." The final two selections, made by votes from the general public, will be displayed from January 22nd to February 21st.
It has been a while since the EV1 has gotten a ton of press, but the all-electric car developed by GM was leased to consumers for testing during an eight-year program. Why don't you see them on the road? That is the way GM wanted it. The cars were only seen as a concept for testing the viability of electric vehicles; after the leases on the EV1s were up GM took them all back and destroyed the majority of them. A handful still exist because they were donated to different Universities for studying, but they were strategically disabled. A couple of Universities have put their EV1s back together by reengineering the electric technology, but the majority, including the one donated to the Smithsonian collection, have been disabled. The EV1 was one of the first large scale electric vehicle tests in the United States, in fact, I can remember when Car and Driver wrote about their test drive of the EV1 in Los Angeles rush hour.
The General Motors 1987 Sunraycer solar car was entered in the 1,864-mile solar car race in Australia in partnership with AeroVironment. The body of the car was made of Kevlar and Nomex, satellite-type solar cells, sliver-zinc Hughes batteries and a GM Magnequench motor. The Sunraycer reached speeds of up to 70 mph and ultimately won the race. If displayed at the Smithsonian, it may very well be the first time some have ever seen the Sunraycer or at the very least since the 1987 race.
You can actual vote for eight different vehicles from the collection besides the two GM vehicles above. The other vehicles include the 1948 Tucker Sedan and 1903 Oldsmobile Curved-dash Runabout. The two vehicles with the most votes will be the ones put on display at the American History Museum on the National Mall. Voting opened December 21st, 2010, but have no fear because you have until January 11th, 2011 to put your vote in. To vote visit the American History Museum page here.