Just a few years after the closure of the Auburn Automobile Company and its related companies, collectors were interested in acquiring Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs. In 1955, the ACD Club was formed, and by 1957, club members had started to visit Auburn, staying at the Auburn Hotel and displaying their cars on the streets. The seeds of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival had been planted.
By 1969, the Labor Day Weekend event grew under the direction of John Martin Smith, Del Mar Johnson, and Jack Randinelli to include the selling of souvenirs, a “bean dinner” put on by the Jay Cees to raise funds for the event, and an antique show hosted by Tri Kappa. By 1972, an antique and classic car auction was added to the event. Soon after, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival, Inc. was formed, alongside the Auburn Automotive Heritage Inc., which formed to help establish the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum.
The festival has grown and changed throughout the years, with festival activities including an arts and craft show, quilt show, hot air balloon classic, concerts, a gala with a 1920s theme, historical and garage tours, and more. The Parade of Classics, held on the Saturday of the festival, is particularly popular, as dozens of restored classics wind through the streets of Auburn, ending at the Courthouse Square. The ACD Festival now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the world each year - including celebrities such as car enthusiast Jay Leno - and is a nationally recognized event. While the Auburn Automobile Company fell from the dizzying heights of its success in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the magnificent automobiles are still celebrated, and still serve as an economic driver for Auburn.