History of the Club

The Automobile Club de France was born out of the desire, at the end of the 19th century, to bring together car makers and patrons driven by a sense of adventure and who envisioned a great future for the then new invention of the motorcar.

The ACF, created out of the "Comité Directeur des Courses de voitures mécaniques", or motorcar racing committee, was founded in 1895 by Count de Dion and Baron Etienne de Zuylen.

De Dion, a great pioneer, wished to maintain the innovative spirit and enthusiasm shared by the participants in the first real major motorcar race in history, the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris of June 1895.

Baron Zuylen, on the other hand, saw the car as "a good idea that would provide a great relief to the poor horses".

Also behind the creation of the Automobil'Club – as the founders originally called the ACF – was a historic lunch in late 1895 at Jules-Albert de Dion's residence with Baron de Zuylen and journalist Paul Meyan from the Figaro.

The idea of a private members' club gradually began to take shape.

The constitutive meeting of the Automobile Club de France, convened by the steering committee, was held on November 12th, 1895, at Count de Dion's residence at Quai d'Orsay in Paris. The Count, however, did not wish to preside over the Club that he had helped inspire, leaving that honour to Baron de Zuylen, the first President of the ACF.

The clubhouse, initially located in Paris at 4, Place de l'Opéra, was inaugurated on April 15th, 1896. It then moved to the sumptuous setting of 6-8 Place de la Concorde, a location that could offer the Club's members the luxury and enjoyment of an exceptional number and variety of facilities. With more than 11,000 m² in the Hôtel Pastoret and Hôtel Moreau, both located between the Hôtel Crillon and Hôtel Coislin, the Club occupies the best part of this historic façade – designed by Jacques-Ange Gabriel – overlooking one of the most beautiful squares in the world.

An institute since 1895, the Automobile Club de France was the very first automobile club in the world. A private club and an institution dedicated to the car, it has worked endlessly to promote the development of this innovative mode of transport. Its founders and early members foresaw, before anyone else, the great heights that these strange machines would attain:
"Believe me, Gentlemen, the world is with us today and the movement we are heading will be unstoppable. In three years, we will have two thousand members and we will need a palace to receive them." (Comte de Dion, 1895)

Major creations of the A.C.F. serving the automobile for more than a century

1st Real motor race in the world: “Paris-Bordeaux-Paris”, the genesis of the A.C.F.
1st Automobile Club in the world: creation of the A.C.F.
1st Technical Commission :
  • examination of inventions and new processes.
  • development of motor sport technical regulations.
  • promotion of motoring: lobbying with public authorities.
1st Motor Show.
1st Automobile Manufacturers Trade Association.
1st Commission for Tourism and its development.
1st Technical Inspection Centre.

The A.C.F. assigns colours to the racing cars according to their country of origin. Thus “France uses blue, Belgium yellow, America red and Germany white”.
1st Automotive Laboratory: definition and control of standards.
Creation of the “Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus” (A.I.A.C.R.), today the “Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile” (F.I.A.).
1st Tourist Guide: directory of hotels and car repairers selected by the A.C.F.
1st Development of a Highway Code.
1st Automobile Club de France Grand Prix.
Grant for the first tarring of roads and installation of road signs.
1st Grand international raid (Beijing-Paris).
1st International driving licence and identity book.
Creation of customs clearance book.
1st Motor Sports Regulations.
1st Motor Sports Calendar.
1st National Federation of French Automobile Clubs.
1st subscription for a racing fund.
1st Safety Centre.
1st French Drivers' Championship.
The Chairman of the A.C.F. takes on the chairmanship of the French Motor Sport Federation (F.F.S.A.)
Creation of the “Association Sportive Automobile” de l’A.C.F. (A.S.A.-A.C.F.)
Creation of T.I.R. (International Road Transport) books.
The A.C.F. Grand Prix become the Grand Prix de France
Creation of "Mondial Assistance".
Creation of the World Sports-Prototype Championship.
Celebration of the "100 years of the French motor car" (Exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, June-August 1984).
Creation of the Association of Car Museums of France (A.M.A.F.) by the Chairman of the A.C.F.
National Celebration of the Centenary of the A.C.F.; issuance of a commemorative stamp.
Centenary of the creation of the Paris Motor Show, become the World Motor Show.
National Celebration of the Centenary of the First Grand Prix of the A.C.F., become the Grand Prix de France. Issuance of two commemorative coins one in gold, the other in silver.
Launch of the Prix Jean Panhard in association with the Committee of French Motor Manufacturers (C.C.F.A.)
Creation by the Chairman of the A.C.F. of the Founding Members' Club of the F.I.A.
Creation of the new website of the A.C.F.'s management company: www.collectionacfphotovehicule.com
Creation of the Prix A.C.F. "The Motor Car and Art".

Today, just as previously, the A.C.F. is continuing its institutional representation and lobbying role with the F.I.A. and public authorities.