We’re starting a new feature that we hope will run every Friday, Vintage Cars in Vintage 3D, with stereo pairs from the Keystone-Mast Archive. To kick off the series, here are some then and now photos of the 20 millionth Ford car to be made, a 1931 Model A. Keystone appears to have photographed the car soon after assembly, adjacent to the factory that built it. It also shot the car while it was on tour around the country. Ford made a big deal about it, organizing parades and getting state authorities in each state to issue license plates with the number 20000000.
Ford Motion Picture Laboratories dutifully followed the Model A, filming the celebrations. After the tour, the car was sold by Stapleton Ford in New Berlin, Illinois like any other Model A. By 1940 it ended up at a Detroit Ford dealer where Carl Liimatainen bought it. Liimatainen drove it the 600 miles to the Keewenaw peninsula in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After Carl died, it sat near his Standard Oil filing station until Bob Kreipke, Ford’s corporate historian, was giving a lecture at a nearby American Legion hall, in 1999. Someone at the lecture approached him and told him about the historical artifact nearby. Skeptical, Kreipke returned with Billy Ford, now Chairman of FoMoCo and sure enough the Model A bearing serial # 20,000,000 was there. As part of Ford’s centennial celebration in 2003, an agreement was made for Ford to lease the car, restore it and put it on display. You can read the complete story here.
The modern photos were taken at the visitor’s center for the Rouge Factor Tour, where the car is part of a display of significant Fords, actually not that far from where it was originally assembled at the Rouge complex. Historic 2D photos after the jump.