By on November 15, 2014

A while back we ran a post on the Gulf Oil liveried 1968 & 1969 LeMans winning Ford GT40 that was temporarily on loan for display at the Racing in America exhibit of The Henry Ford Museum’s Driving America section. The reason for that loan was that the car that normally occupies that corner of the exhibit, the Ford Mk IV that won LeMans in 1967, was at Dan Gurney’s All American Racers shop in California getting a sensitive repair and conservation. That job has now been completed and the Mk IV is now back on display at the Dearborn, Michigan museum, just in time to be rejoined by Mr. Gurney. (Read More…)

By on July 8, 2014

Following the success of the Ford Trimotor, one of the first successful commercial passenger and cargo airplanes, which was introduced in 1925, Henry Ford got the aviation bug and decided to build what he called a “Model T of the air”, a small, affordable single seat airplane. He first proposed the idea to the men running his aircraft division, Trimotor designer William Bushnell Stout and William Benson Mayo but based on Henry’s design brief, neither experienced aeronautical man wanted anything to do with project. By then Henry Ford had bought out all of his investors and partners. All of Ford Motor Company stock was owned by Henry, Clara, and Edsel Ford, with Henry having the greatest share (49/3/48) so the firm was effectively Henry’s private feudal empire. Mr. Ford simply moved the project to a building in the Ford Laboratories complex. (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2014

Since this isn’t The Truth About Airplanes or even Planelopnik, we don’t generally cover aviation here at TTAC, either general or commercial (sorry about that pun). However, Honda announced that last week the first production HondaJet took its maiden test flight, near Honda Aircraft’s Greensboro, NC headquarters, and Honda does, after all, make and sell a few cars too. They aren’t the first car company, though, to get into the airplane business. As a matter of fact an earlier automaker had a seminal role in the development of commercial passenger aviation and even took a flier (sorry again, couldn’t resist) at general aviation, though that experiment was less successful. I don’t know if Soichiro Honda’s ever envisioned his motor company making jet airplanes, but since one of Soichiro’s role models, Henry Ford, helped get passenger aviation off the ground (okay, the last time, I promise) it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the thought may have crossed Mr. Honda’s mind. (Read More…)

By on July 5, 2013

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It’s not unusual for automakers to wrap themselves in their national flags. After citing baseball, hot dogs and apple pie, and sponsoring Dinah Shore to tell us in song to see the USA, Chevrolet is the car company that comes to mind pretty quickly when considering automotive nationalism, but they all do it one way or another, in their home markets. Export markets too, in the case of German and Japanese cars. Those cases might be nationalism or they might just be good marketing but there was once an American car company whose founder was so patriotic that he built a copy of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall for his company headquarters. Actually, there were two car company founders that did that. You may know about one of those buildings and you undoubtedly know about who built it because it’s called the Henry Ford Museum. Percy Owens, however, is less well known, and he built his copy of Independence Hall before Ford has his own replica of America’s architectural symbol of independence made. There are other replicas and near replicas across the country, mostly at colleges, Mercer, Howard, Dartmouth, Brooklyn and Dallas Baptist. Knott’s Berry Farm in California also built a full-scale replica outside their Buena Park amusement park in 1996, but the Motor City is the only place there are two. (Read More…)

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