The Club was born of necessity on February 28, 1924, to assist motorists who were climbing behind the wheel in ever-increasing numbers. Back then, hard-surfaced roads were a novelty, vehicle disablements prevalent, flat tires were commonplace, and gas was purchased at the general store. The first headquarters were established at 362 Pine Street San Francisco, California.
As originally organized, the club had a sizable Sales Department blanketing the state. Engineers and cartographers in the Club's Engineering Department were engaged to log the roads of the state and to draft maps for the information and guidance of the members. NAC's maps remained in demand by the California Highway Patrol and the United States Bureau of Roads for decades. A Touring Department was set up to work out the best routes and stopping places en route, to assemble information about the points of interest likely to attract the motorist, to gather particulars of road and highway condition and to issue bulletins of advice and warning to members, the public, and the press. A Membership Department was established to act in close collaboration with the Sales force and to record and register the name and address of each member and the make of car to be serviced. A Legal Aid Department was installed to counsel members in connection with the lawful operation of their motor vehicle and to assist them in attempts to recover when sustaining any injury to person or car, at the hands of another driver. The Publicity Department was organized to handle public relations, and develop goodwill. One of the special features under the direction of this department was the issuance of the national motorist magazine. And last, but certainly the most critical to the proper functioning of the Club, the Service Department was formed. This group was charged with contracting with individual auto service unit owners, building a dependable network of service providers, and matching the needs of members to the most convenient service unit in the area of vehicle disablement.
Membership soared in the 1920s and ‘30s, reflecting the new, mobile society. Our goal was then, and remains, to provide a wide range of service benefits that promote a safe and secure environment for driving. Many families joined the club seemingly for a lifetime, with successive loyal generations maintaining membership. Decades of cooperative interaction with both the insurance industry and various highway public safety agencies have served to cement the fine reputation of the National Automobile Club.
During the 1980’s with the knowledge, experience, and resources available to the Club, it became apparent that significant opportunity existed to serve the needs of the commercial marketplace. Doing so, increased volume to contracted service providers and made it possible to hold down costs for all NAC customers. Unbundled Emergency Road Services were made available to fleets in both the private sector and government. The early 1990’s found insurance companies selecting NAC as dispatcher of choice for their stranded policyholders.
The National Automobile Club is proud to have helped over 10 million motorists since its humble beginnings. Our emergency dispatch center remains staffed round-the-clock 365 days a year. NAC customers access the center toll-free for assistance virtually anywhere in the country.
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