Henry Ford is famous for having used an assembly line to put together his Model Ts, even if he wasn’t the first automaker to use a production line. That was likely Ranson Olds, but Ford perfected the process. Before the assembly line, FoMoCo used a process called “sequential assembly” and before that, station assembly, where the chassis was hauled around to various work stations where parts were added. Even with station assembly, Ford and his managers were able to drastically reduce the amount of labor needed to assemble a car.
The Piquette Avenue Model T Complex is a work in progress so it’s always worth a visit to see what’s new. The museum is staffed mostly by volunteers and over the years those volunteers have been restoring Henry Ford’s corner office to how it appeared in a publicity photograph taken of Ford in June 1908 for the Ford Times publication. Even before the Model T’s popularity, Henry knew the value of publicity and already had a house organ in Ford Times. At the time the photo was taken, Henry and his associates were busy getting ready to put the Model T into production.
Humor can be an effective advertising tool even if you’re selling cars. In 1969 American Motors produced a television commercial for its mid-sized Rebel that is considered by some to be one of the best TV car spots ever created. It may not have helped AMC sell cars but at least the ad got noticed.
This mailer for an auto maker from the 1920s probably got noticed, too. The recipient no doubt puzzled over a flyer that depicted an insane asylum on the cover and might have puzzled still more upon opening it to see that it came from a car company.
In conjunction with the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, the Hudson, Essex and Terraplane Historical Society has opened up the National Hudson Motor Car Company Museum in the YAHM’s building. That building is the location of the former Miller Motors, the last surviving Hudson dealership. While the YAHM will still be devoted to Corvairs, Hydramatic transmissions, Kaiser-Frazers and Tucker, all enterprises with Ypsilanti connections, the part of the museum that housed Miller Motors will be exclusively devoted to Hudsons and that company’s history. I’m not thrilled about the fact that the YAHM’s 1950s era parts counter and service department no longer exist. It was a unique and very cool thing that I think made the museum worth a visit. You can see old cars lots of places but how many chances do you get to see a car dealer the way it was back then. We ran a post about the Ypsilanti car museum back in 2011 if you’d like to see what changes have been made with the installation of the new Hudson museum.
Barney Oldfield is known as a pioneering race car driver but before Henry Ford asked him to pilot 999, Ford’s second race car, in a five mile race against automaker Alexander Winton, Oldfield had never even driven an automobile. He was, however, a successful bicycle racer so he understood competition. He also turned out to be a natural behind the wheel – or in the case of the 999, the tiller. Shortly before his death, Henry Ford is said to have remarked to Barney Oldfield: “You made me and I made you.” Oldfield shook his head and replied “Old 999 made both of us.”
Lancia’s future is shrouded in uncertainty. Currently it markets its cars in just central and western Europe and offers just four models, two of which, the Thema and the Voyager, are very thinly disguised U.S. market Chryslers. Rumors circulated earlier this year that its lineup would shrink even further and that next year only the subcompact Ypsilon would remain.
Lancia’s past on the other hand is a rich history of design and engineering achievement which gave the world stunningly elegant cars such as this 1952 Aurelia and, more importantly, the engine that lies under its hood.
Though the Bradley GT looked original, that doesn’t mean that it’s attractive to most people. The Kelmark GT, on the other hand, is a pretty nice looking car. That’s because it’s a near copy of the 208/246 Dino by Ferrari.
Unlike competitor Kelmark, Bradley didn’t offer options like tube frames or midengine layouts. Bradley GTs were designed from the outset to sit on stock Volkswagen Beetle platform chassis. Though I suppose in profile they were supposed to look a bit like the Beetle’s much faster descendant, the all-conquering Porsche 917, in the end they still look like a cheap kit car. Someone, though, loves them because they brought it out to the Vintage VW show in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park this past May.
It’s hard to think of something as recent as a 1996 model as a vintage car, but does make it almost 20 years old. That may explain why this 1996 VW Golf Harlequin was at the Vintage VW Show. No matter the reason, I’m glad the owner, Ken Berman, of Livonia, Michigan, brought it to the show. Only 264 were made, which makes them fairly rare as far as production cars go. Also, if you check the Harlequin Registry, you’ll see that a number have been resprayed with a single color. For some reason, most of those repainted cars started out as Pistachio Green cars (the panels were swapped at the end of the line at the Puebla, Mexico assembly plant) so seeing a “Pistachio Green” Harlequin Golf in original condition is even rarer yet.
Note: We’re going to depart from our usual practice of illustrating the top of our 3D photo posts with red/blue anaglyph 3D images and instead use what’s called a Dubois anaglyph, which changes the colors to avoid the retinal flashing that can happen with some shades of red and blue when viewing with red/blue glasses. With both red and blue panels on the Harlequin Golf, I figured I’d give your eyes a rest. Conventional red/blue anaglyph below.
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the factory that Adolph Hitler built to produce the original Volkswagen Beetle, the KdF-Wagen, actually built the military Kubelwagen variant before Type I production began. After all, possible military uses were part of the first discussion that Hitler had with Ferdinand Porsche about the “people’s car” in April of 1934. A number of variants of the Kubelwagen were made. Perhaps the most successful and best known is the amphibious Type 166, also known as the Schwimmwagen. The Detroit Arsenal of Democracy museum in St Clair Shores has one one display. It’s one of only 163 that are known to have survived out of over 15,000 that were made, the highest production amphibious car in history. By the way, one look at that front axle assembly and you know it’s somehow related to the Beetle.