Iconic Red Car on track to new ownership

Lions to transfer Red Car to Historic Resources Foundation. Formal announcement to come in near future

The Red Car stands in the sun on the Greenbelt on Friday, Feb. 10. Photo by Charles M. Kelly

The Seal Beach Lions Club is expected to turn the iconic Red Car over to the Seal Beach Historic Resources Foundation. The Red Car Museum stands on land owned by the city government near the Mary Wilson Library Branch.

Deb Machen, president of the Historic Resources Foundation, confirmed the news in a Feb. 10, 2023 text.

“I have been working with them for months,” Machen wrote, apparently referring to the Lions Club.

According to Machen, the Foundation will make a formal announcement to the public in the next few weeks.

Scott Newton of the Lions also confirmed the coming change of ownership in a Feb. 10 text.

“It will happen in a couple of months,” Newton wrote. “Three Lions are foundation board members and we will continue to have a significant role.”

Machen formally announced the transfer, and provided more details, during the Historic Resources Foundation presentation to the Monday, Feb. 13, City Council meeting.

“With help from the city attorney, we have a draft agreement for the transfer of the Red Car from the Lions to the Foundation,” she said.

“We are ensuring we have all of our documents in order for a proper transfer and are working with the Lions to ascertain agreement on both sides,” Machen said.

“We have begun planning a community celebration to mark this exciting occasion and will provide additional details when we have them,” Machen said.

“For now, we have a tentative date set for the afternoon of Sunday, April 23rd for a 1920s style celebration,” Machen said.

“So, dust off your flapper dress, your newsboy hat or fedora and join us for some good old-fashioned fun on the Greenbelt by the Red Car and Centennial Cottage,” Machen said.

She also said the Historic Resources Foundation would soon launch a website.

Machen thanked the Lions for stepping in and helping the community, an apparent reference to when the Lions bought the Red Car from its previous owners.

The Lions Club bought the Red Car (then known as the Red Car Museum) from the Seal Beach Historical Society/Red Car Museum in 2021.

According to a statement issued by the Lions, the bill of sale was effective Feb. 28, 2021.

The SBHS removed the contents from the Red Car Museum prior to the sale to the Lions.

“They emptied it out into a U-Haul truck and drove away,” wrote District One Councilman/Mayor Joe Kalmick in a Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 text message.

The maintenance of the Red Car and the operation of the SBHS had been controversial for some time prior to the sale.

In November 2020, the city government offered to buy the Red Car from the SBHS for $10,000. The city called for changes to the SBHS. No changes were made to the organization.  The city canceled the $1-a-year lease between the city and the SBHS.