Considering it has been around in several forms since 1929, some might think The Henry Ford museum is an old, dusty edifice. They would be 180 degrees off of correct. With the Greenfield Village complex, The Henry Ford is set north of Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan test track. Inside the museum are such varied vehicles as a full-size steam locomotive and the bus in which Rosa Parks was riding when she stood up to the system. Naturally, we homed in on the automobile displays.
We could spend paragraphs describing the exhibits and cars, but we’ll let The Henry Ford do that. Thanks to several well-done links, you can get an overall view of the place on the official Henry Ford website.
We’d suggested a laid back, feet-up-on-the-couch approach to this perusing because it’s easy to get drawn into the place and what it has to offer. Don’t forget to visit the aviation side of The Henry Ford and, believe it or not, the agricultural equipment. Then again, you could travel to Dearborn and see it first hand.
To whet your appetite, here is a gallery of images from The Henry Ford.
Walk through those doors when they open at 9 am and you could easily be busy checking out exhibits until the museum closes at 5 pm.
The 1962 Mustang 1 mid-engine prototype. Public debut for the Mustang 1 was at the 1962 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York where it was given a demo drive by Dan Gurney. Behind it is the first Ford Mustang convertible.
The signature of Henry Ford’s good friend, cast in sand.
Ford 999 was driven by Henry Ford to a land speed record of 91.37 mph. The venue? Frozen Lake St. Clair, just northeast of Detroit.
If you’ve never seen Little Oscar in the one of the Oscar Meyer Wienermobiles, you’ve missed a sweet bit of Americana. And to get one of his wiener whistles would put a little kid in toy paradise.
When Jimmy Clark won the 1965 Indianapolis 500 in this Lotus 38-Ford, it was the first time a mid-engine race car had won the classic event.
Powel Crosley, Jr. thought the U.S. needed small automobiles, so he debuted his line of little cars in 1939. The lineup as of 1949 included the Hotshot Roadster, The Henry Ford’s a 1951 model. Minus the removable doors, Hotshots were raced in the U.S.
The two most famous Ford GT40s. Painted red is the MkIV that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1967 driven by Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt. In the blue-and-orange Gulf paint scheme is chassis 1075, which was driven to victory at Le Mans in 1968 and 1969.
“Old 16” the first American car to win an important international race. George Robertson did just that with this Locomobile at the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup race. Made famous in one of Peter Helck’s masterful paintings, Old 16 had a 990-cubic-inch engine that produced 120 horsepower.
This is typical of the excellent displays at The Henry Ford, leading here with two Chevrolet, a 1955 Bel Air hardtop in the colors of the day and a 1969 mid-engine Corvair sedan.
Cyclecars with motorcycle engines were a pre-World War I phenomenon imported from Europe. This is a 1913 prototype of the Scripps-Booth Rocket Cyclecar, which was only in production during 1914. So much for that scheme.
One of the six huge Bugatti Type 41 Royales built, the example in The Henry Ford was rescued from a junkyard in 1943 by Charles Chayne, one of the top engineers at General Motors. Chayne and his wife donated the Royale to the museum in 1958.
A 4-wheel symbol of the Sixties, Volkswagen’s Westfalia Camper.
Henry Ford got his start with cars like this 1903 Model A Runabout. Price? $650. In produciton for less than two years, Model As had 8-horsepower opposed 2-cylinder engines.
It couldn’t be a Ford-based museum without a flathead V-8, could it?
There is a lineup of several Presidential limousines at
The Henry Ford. This 1950 Lincoln “Bubbletop” was used by four Presidents, mainly Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, while JFK and Lyndon Johnson had it as a spare. Eisenhower had the rounded plastic top added.
Road food paradise. A 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible under a McDonald’s sign next to A&W and White Castle neon. Behind this is Lamy’s Diner, founded in 1946 and still in business.
Dodge Airflows weren’t just cars, hence this 1939 Airflow Tank Truck in a replication of a gas station from well before self-service. Check your oil sir?
Surrounded by luggage, a Lincoln sits next to another Ford masterpiece, a 1928 Trimotor airplane. And not just any Trimotor, but the one Admiral Byrd used to fly over the South Pole, the first plane to do that.
Think hybrid cars are a modern creation? Think again. This is the 1916 Woods Dual-power Hybrid Coupe. Both the company and car were history come 1918. In the background is the ever-lovely 1980 electric Comuta-Car, which was a response to the fuel crises of the 1970s…and also a failure.
From across Detroit at Chrysler, one of the 55 gas turbine cars assembled by Chrysler in 1963. Ghia in Italy built the bodies and the cars were assembled in Detroit and then passed out to consumers to test drive. Ultimately, Chrysler destroyed all but nine of turbine cars and three of those are still operational. Jay Leno has a Chrysler Turbine in his collection.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these massive steam traction engines were commonly used in agriculture for “ploughing” and threshing. Stand near one when it is operating and you can feel the earth move.
There’s more to transportation than cars, of course, and The Henry Ford displays this large 1952 Federal 45M Truck Tractor, which was used by Cole’s Express.