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Friday, September 20, 2013

Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn. Part II - The Automobiles

You would expect the Henry Ford Museum to have a nice collection of cars, and you won't be disappointed.  Henry Ford wasn't the first inventor to drive a car through the streets of Detroit.  His friend, Charles B. King gets that honor with the car pictured on the left.  But Henry was only three months behind with his Quadricycle shown on the right.  The date for Ford's first ride was June 4, 1896.
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It would be seven more years before Ford Motor Company was founded and five years after that before the first Model T was produced at the Piquette Avenue plant that we visited previously on this blog.  Over that time period, a lot of people got into the automobile business, most of them in Detroit. Ransom E. Olds came to dominate the rather small "mass market" of the time with his curved-dash Oldsmobile.


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By 1932, Ford had brought power to the people with his V-8 engine.

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By 1951, the concept of "style" started to become important to automobile buyers and the Studebaker Champion had it thanks to Raymond Lowey's introduction of the "bullet nose" the previous year.  I only wish the museum had either a yellow or a red model rather than the rather boring color specimen that they have on display.  (We saw a yellow '50 4-door at this restaurant in Sault Ste. Marie, last year.)


By 1956 style and power had come together in this Chrysler 300.


And you could probably write a few books about the cars in this picture.

That 55 MPH speed limit and the little boxy Toyota next to it ultimately changed a lot of lives in Detroit.  And one recent book about fifteen cars that may define much of American culture, Engines of Change, even credits that Corvair in the foreground with producing the presidency of George W. Bush.

There are quite a few specialty vehicles in the museum.  For instance this very early school bus.
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The Goldenrod powered by four Chryler "hemis" that set the land speed record of 409.277 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1965.
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And even Charles Kuralt's "On the Road" van.
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And the cultural icons.  Who can look at this (1949?) Mercury and not see James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause?

The early Corvette and Thunderbird also stand in a class of their own.
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