TURIN - The Car of the Century prize starts 1998 in some trouble.
Sponsorships for a planned world tour have not developed.
Voting by the public is unlikely to begin on schedule in March.
The president of the jury of automotive journalists, Paul Frere of Belgium, resigned late last year.
The idea to elect 'the most significant car of the 20th century' came first to Fred van der Vlugt, a Dutch journalist who has been president of the European Car of the Year jury for over 30 years.
In the second half of 1996, van der Vlugt, together with his board of directors, put together a jury that has grown to 135 journalists from 32 countries.
The committee's plan started on schedule. An honorary committee of well-known journalists, including Frere, proposed 200 cars from among 10,000 eligible.
The Car of the Century prize and jury were presented at the Amsterdam Motor Show in February 1997, and the jury chose the 100 quarter-finalists that were announced at the Frankfurt show in September 1997.
The original plan included three exhibitions made up of the 100 selected cars.
These were to travel all over the world, gaining the public votes, beginning in March.
The exhibitions and voting on the Internet would have resulted in 10 finalist nominees.
Meanwhile, the journalists were to pick out 25 semi-finalists, which would be joined by any on the public list that the professional jury had overlooked.
However, the program of exhibitions has been delayed indefinitely, due to lack of sponsorship. The tour and sponsors were supposed to be announced last October at the Frankfurt auto show.
The program may still meet its deadline, but the form it will take depends on finding sponsors, according to a board member who joined as a favor to friends.
The final voting was originally scheduled for 4 December 1999 in a live TV show broadcast from Las Vegas.
Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, a UK collector and museum director, has replaced Frere as chairman of the honorary committee.
Others include journalists Thomas Bryant of the USA, Gordon Wilkins of the UK, Shotaro Kobayasky of Japan, and Lorin Tryon, chairman of the Pebble Beach concourse.
The Car of the Century board includes Walter Hayes, former president of Aston Martin Lagonda; European PR veterans Beppe Giraudi, Anton Konrad and Bob Sicot; and John McElroy, president of the North American Car of the Year.