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 |  Dec 23 2010, 9:55 PM

It’s the most prestigious (and largest) institution dedicated to preserving America’s past. But when it comes to cars, the Smithsonian Institution has many of its 73 vehicles locked away in storage.

However, it will shortly be putting two of them on display as part of  the National Museum of American History Collection from January 22 to February 21, 2011. The only problem is, deciding which ones should qualify.

To that end, the Smithsonian is asking the public for help in selecting the candidates – the first time ever it’s offered such a proposal.  The candidates are listed below.

1880 Long steam tricycle, an early precursor  to what we know as the automobile.

1894 Balzer quadricycle, recognized as the first American-made car to be driven around New York City.

1903 Oldsmobile curved-dash runabout (credited as the first high volume production car)

1929 front-drive Miller Race Car, (front drive was fairly novel in the late 1920s, especially on racers)

1948 Tucker Torpedo (the most technologically advanced ‘production’ car of the 1940s)

1953 Glasspar sports car, a roadster built by a California boat builder out of fiberglass.

1987 GM Sunraycer, a solar powered machine that dominated an 1,864-mile race across Australia.

1998 GM EV1 electric car (shown)

We might be going out on a limb by saying this, but given current fad surrounding electric cars, we’ll bet that the EV1 will be one of the two vehicles ultimately selected for display. The winners will be announced on  January 12th.