Tag Archives: Ford Motor Company

From my bookshelf-Fall 2016 Edition

I know you’re continually looking for interesting auto related books. Here are some picks from my bookshelf for fall 2016.

My-First-Car

What could be better than a book about our first cars? Motor Trend executive editor and motoring author Matt Stone compiled 60 stories of these “firsts” in My First Car. The interviewees share what drew them to, how they enjoyed, and other remembrances of their first car.

I enjoyed how Stone presents each of these stories. First he offers a short background on the individual. Then he weaves the tale of acquisition, use, misuse, and separation from the revered vehicle. There are many stories of how these vehicles helped to build a life-time bond with someone close.

Peruse My First Car at Amazon.com.


Corvette-in-the-Barn

I am interested in automotive archaeology. In The Corvette in the Barn: More Great Stories of Automotive Archaeology, author Tom Cotter documents how some of these dream searches start out as part of an urban legend, but through automotive archaeology, the details of the actual “barn find” come to reality.

Cotter brings over 30 incredible discoveries to light, including a one-of-a-kind stolen Corvette Z06 convertible with only 7,500 miles on the odometer stashed in a warehouse in Detroit. He also writes about a man reconnecting with the Hemi Cuda he drove as a teenager. The stories document the amazing lengths some people will go to discover the car of their dreams.

This is an excellent resource for those auto-obsessed people who dream of finding the car of their dreams tucked away in some obscure barn in the country and how to use their sleuthing skills to make it a reality.

Peruse The Corvette in the Barn at Amazon.com.


Edsel Ford & E.T. Gregorie

As many of you know, I am interested in automotive styling. In Edsel Ford and E.T. Gregorie: The Remarkable Design Team and Their Classic Fords of the 1930s and 1940s, author Henry Dominguez documents how these auto icons brought styling to the Ford Motor Company.

Probably the most well-known product of their design collaboration efforts is the 1940 Lincoln Continental. For many years, this pair wanted to build a Ford sports car, but no suitable chassis was available. In the fall of 1938, Gregorie surmised that the Zephyr’s low-slung chassis might be useful. He immediately sketched his new sports car design on a piece of vellum over a Zephyr profile drawing. In less than an hour, his new longer and lower concept car appeared. Edsel commissioned a prototype built in time for his spring vacation in Florida. During this trip, he received such acclaim for the concept that he telephoned Gregorie to set up arrangements for the 1940 production run of Lincoln Continentals.

Dominguez’s research and writing yield a through look at the forces in automotive styling. He provides insights about these creators of automotive icons. His love for sharing automotive history, along with historical and contemporary photographs, adds interest and draws you into the story.

Peruse Edsel Ford and E.T. Gregorie at Amazon.com.

So, if you’re looking for some different books about our automotive heritage, I invite you to peruse these. See you the next time from my bookshelf.

For more information on our bookstore follow this link.

From my Bookshelf-Summer 2016 Edition

If you’re like me, I know you’re continually looking for interesting auto related books. Here are some picks from my bookshelf for summer 2016.

Industrial Strength Design
Industrial Strength Design

One of the first things that draws me to an automobile is styling. In Industrial Strength Design: How Brooks Stevens Shaped Your World, author Glenn Adamson documents Brooks Stevens’ career in Industrial Design from 1934 – 1979.

One automotive example is how Brooks Stevens customized his own Cord L-29 Cabriolet in 1938. Stevens made slight changes to the body and fender contours, finished off with a streamline paint job, and added a sloping windshield and chrome wheel discs over the stock wire wheels. Next, he removed the rumble seat and folding top and installed a seamless rear body with a rounded fin protruding from the center. (This may be the earliest tail fin to appear on an American car.) He dramatically transformed the front of the car with a bar type grille with sculptured chrome bumpers and teardrop shaped “wood lights.” Today, this car resides in a private collection.

Adamson yields a thorough look at Brooks Stevens’ influence on industrial design. The author provides insights about this creative force for over four decades.

Industrial Strength Design at Amazon.com.


umbrella-mike
Umbrella mike

I am interested in stories that involve the Indianapolis 500. In Umbrella Mike: The True Story of the Chicago Gangster Behind the Indy 500, author Brock Yates documents Mike Boyle’s love of high-speed automobiles that began at the age of 16 when he attended the Chicago Times-Herald race on November 28, 1895 (one of the America’s first auto races). This event later led to Boyle’s quest to win the Indianapolis 500. Boyle cars won the 500 three times, once with Bill Cummings as the driver in 1934, and twice with Wilbur Shaw in 1939 and 1940.

Boyle’s quest for new speedsters led him to the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup race on Long Island, NY, where he witnessed the dominance of European-built machines. Here he became further acquainted with Wilbur Shaw driving a Maserati. In early 1939, Shaw was assigned to drive the new Maserati 8CTF and drove this car to victory in the next two 500’s.

Yates provides an interesting look at Mike Boyle’s desire to be at the top of American auto racing. The author draws you into the action on the track.

Peruse Umbrella Mike: The True Story of the Chicago Gangster Behind the Indy 500 at Amazon.com.


Arsenal of Ddemocracy
Arsenal of Ddemocracy

I have always been interested in how the American automotive industry became known as the “Arsenal of Democracy.” In The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm America at War, author A. J. Baime documents how Henry Ford and his son Edsel, with the Ford Motor Company, used automotive production methods to create the Willow Run aircraft factory. The facility was able to produce bombers at the unheard of rate of a “bomber an hour.” Ford’s initiative is a leading example of how the American automotive industry became known as the “Arsenal of Democracy.”

The first Ford-produced B-24 Liberator rolled off the huge Willow Run assembly line on May 15, 1942. The B-24 Liberator remains the most mass-produced American military aircraft ever. Of the total 18,482 Liberators built during the war, 8,685 rolled out of Willow Run. At the peak of production, the plant employed over 42,000 workers.

Baime’s looks at the automotive industry’s quest to arm America and her allies.

Peruse The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm America at War at Amazon.com.


Built for Adventure
Built for Adventure

After reading Clive Cussler’s Artic Drift, I became aware of one of his nonfiction works – Built for Adventure: The Classic Automobiles of Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt

For a genuine car nut like myself, this book was a venture into cars from the classic era. The fact that 13 of the 58 cars highlighted in the book are Indiana-built didn’t surprise me. These included Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Marmon and Stutz models. My choice of the best Indiana-built car is the 1932 V-12 Auburn boattail speedster that is also featured on the back of the Artic Drift dust cover.

Author Clive Cussler does an outstanding job of documenting these classic cars from his collection. He presents a brief history of each auto producer, thoughts about what drew him to each car, and details about the features of each particular auto.

Cussler’s weaves a thorough look at these classic icons. The book’s production fits a classic theme with an outstanding layout and first class photography.

Peruse Built for Adventure: The Classic Automobiles of Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt at Amazon.com.

So, if you’re looking for some different books about our automotive heritage, I invite you to peruse these. See you the next time from my bookshelf.

For more information on our bookstore follow this link.

Jimmy Clark in a sprint car?

Jimmy Clark in Ford Model T Sprint Car
Jimmy Clark in Ford Model T Sprint Car
Copyright © 1965 Ford Motor Company

While perusing my collection of mid-1960s Indianapolis 500 Mile Race press kits, I found this photo of Jimmy Clark sitting in a Ford Model T sprint car. Let me tell you the story behind this photo.

In 1965, Ford Motor Company entered two Lotus powered by Ford specials in the Indianapolis 500. In the process of developing these racers, the company developed the 495 horsepower Ford double-overhead-cam V-8 racing engine available for use by the entire racing fraternity.

The 1965 Ford Motor Company press kit explaining their entries included this photograph showing the old and new look at Indianapolis. A Lotus-Ford is in the foreground with Jimmy Clark trying out the cockpit of the vintage sprint car in the background. What a contrast between 48 years of technological development, front-engine versus rear-engine, four-cylinder versus eight-cylinder, and valve-in-head versus double-overhead-cam!

In 1963, Clark won “Rookie of the Year” honors for placing second in a Ford-powered Lotus entry. Clark earned the coveted pole position with a speed of 158.828 mph in 1964 in another Lotus-Ford. Unfortunately, he dropped out of the race after 47 laps with mechanical failure.

The third time would be the charm for Jim Clark driving the Lotus powered by Ford entry to first place in 1965 Indianapolis 500. A second Lotus-Ford driven by Bobby Johns finished seventh. The Ford double-overhead-cam V-8 racing engine powered a number of other entries in this race.

So, that’s the story of Jimmy Clark sitting in a sprint car. I often wondered how would Jimmy Clark do driving around a ½ mile dirt track in a 1960s era sprint car? I guess that’s a discussion for another day.

For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.

Let’s revitalize this Indianapolis landmark

Ford Indianapolis Assembly Branch
Ford Indianapolis Assembly Branch
Copyright © Ford Motor Company

The Ford Motor Company opened its four-story, Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant (known as Plant 215) at 1315 East Washington Street in the fall of 1914. Production of Ford cars and trucks continued unabated for nearly two decades, except for a period during World War I and model changeovers.

In May 1924, the new Car Delivery Unit was erected at the rear of the site fronting on South Eastern Avenue. The plant layout was expanded twice in the mid-1920’s to allow more space for assembly operations. These expansions increased the plant’s capacity to 300 assembled cars per day. With this capacity, the Indianapolis assembly branch had the highest output of any Indiana auto manufacturing site in its era.

Ford body assembly and finishing operations commenced at this plant in 1929. The Great Depression, however, also took its toll on Ford. As a result, Ford discontinued production operations in December 1932. Limited operations resumed at the site as a Ford parts service and automotive sales branch in July 1934. The plant operated on this basis into the 1940’s.

Over the course of its operations, Ford Motor Company produced over 581,000 automobiles at this site. The Ford Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant operated during Indianapolis’ heyday of automotive manufacturing in the first part of the Twentieth Century. This plant’s production led all of the city’s other 97 auto producers from 1915 to 1932.

The Ford Indianapolis Branch Assembly is meaningful to Indianapolis automotive history for its location along the National Road – Washington Street as the gateway to the city.

In article in the Indianapolis Star June 19, 1922, ranked the city of Indianapolis as third nationally in manufacturing automobiles. Indianapolis had an output of $75,000,000 a year, employed 11,000 men and women, and had an annual payroll for city auto producers was $2,000,000. The approximate annual payroll of the Ford plant was a little over $1,100,000.

Like the Ford Motor Company Cleveland Ohio Branch Assembly Plant that is now the location of the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Ford Indianapolis Branch Assembly could serve as the cornerstone for redevelopment for SEND area. This site is underutilized and with renovation could highlight Indianapolis’ growth in the twenty-first century. Possibly a portion of the building could be set aside to celebrate Indianapolis’ automotive history.

I celebrate the story of the Ford Indianapolis Branch Assembly with a facebook page.

I invite you to help revitalize this Indianapolis landmark as a cornerstone of neighborhood development and celebration of our history.

For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.

Comparing the 1923 auto industry with today’s

Receently I read an article from the National Geographic, October 1923, entitled The Automobile Industry: An American Art that has Revolutionized Methods in Manufacturing and Transformed Transportation. Here are some interesting points comparing the 1923 auto industry with today’s.

In 1923, the United States had 13 million registered vehicles, and the national income was around 60 billion dollars. Contrast that with today’s figures of almost 250 million registered vehicles and a national income of almost 13 trillion dollars. That’s over 19 times as many vehicles and over 215 times the national income.

Start of the 1922 Indianapolis 500 with Barney Oldfield driving the National Sextet pace car © Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Start of the 1922 Indianapolis 500 with Barney Oldfield driving the National Sextet pace car © Indianapolis Motor Speedway

That year experts estimated that the gas consumption by the motor cars of the country would exceed six billion gallons. In 2013, the U.S. consumed almost 135 billion gallions of gas. In 1923, the average driver was able to coax 15 miles out each gallon of gas. By 2013, U.S. drivers posted an average of 23.6 miles per gallon.

Additional data about 1923 shows that 11 out of every 13 motor vehicles in the world were operated on American roads, and 12 out of every 13 produced in a given period being American-made in 1923.

Typical auto assembly line ©National Geographic
Typical auto assembly line ©National Geographic

More new cars would be put into commission in 1923 than were built from the birth of the industry up to the end of 1915. Available figures indicated that the total car sales for the year would approximate five million, including two million used vehicles. This meant that one family out of every four in the country annually figured in an automobile transaction.

Seventy percent of cars being sold were bought on the deferred-payment plan. Every fifty dollars’ reduction in selling price opened up a new field of a million prospects. The deferred-payment plan also widened the market tremendously for all cars, and now the much-discussed “five dollars down and five a week” scheme of the Ford Motor Company was enrolling hundreds of thousands of new customers.

Overland Park Campgrounds in Denver Colorado ©National Geographic
Overland Park Campgrounds in Denver Colorado ©National Geographic

The article predicted “measured by Indiana’s ratio of car-owners to population, the ultimate registration of the country would reach 18 million.” Total U. S. vehicle registrations totaled just over 111 million vehicles for 2012, for a growth rate of 616 percent.

The American tribute to the automotive engineer’s genius had made this industry the third largest in the United States. The automotive vehicle manufacturer had become the largest producer of finished goods in the world.

“The great triumvirate – the passenger car, the freight truck, and the farm tractor – are destined to write a record of service to America that will stamp the automobile engineer as one of the foremost contributors to human welfare in all the history of mankind.”

Over the years, the automobile has become part of the fabric of American life. People like myself owe our lives and/or livelihood to the American auto industry. That’s one of the reasons I am a “Genuine Car Nut.”

For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.