By on July 22, 2016

Detroit (Bryan Debus/Flickr)

The Automotive Hall of Fame thinks it can better tell the history of the automobile if it makes a move to the Motor City.

William Chapin, the museum’s president, wants to expand the facility’s scope and become part of Detroit’s resurgence, so he’s looking for space near downtown, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Founded in New York City in 1939, the year General Motors brought us the automatic transmission, the museum has occupied a 25,000 square foot building on Oakwood Boulevard in Dearborn since 1997. It’s close, but it could be a lot closer to the birthplace of American car culture.

“We feel there is a need to develop a visitor destination downtown that will tell the global stories of automotive innovators and their innovations over the past 90-plus years with a spotlight on Detroit’s automotive heritage,” Chapin said yesterday at the annual induction ceremony, reported by Freep. “We also want to talk about the rebirth of the industry … and the creation of a hub for autonomous vehicles and new age manufacturing.”

The planned move is still just an idea, but Chapin said he’d like to find a location along Woodward Avenue. The facility is adjacent to The Henry Ford, and the automaker’s recent shuffle of its Dearborn facilities was the kick the Hall of Fame needed.

“We are right in the dead center of that,” Chapin said. “And, we have always had a bit of a marketing problem because many people think we are associated with Ford.”

According to CBS News, Chapin said the move would allow the Hall of Fame to become “more than just a car museum.”

This year’s crop of inductees was diverse. The museum honored former Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Bertha Benz (wife of automobile inventor Karl Benz and first-ever road trip driver), Roy Lunn, creator of the original Ford GT40, and … Ralph Nader. He’s the man who found the Chevrolet Corvair a bit lacking.

[Image: Bryan Debus/Flickr]

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24 Comments on “Automotive Hall of Fame Moving from Dearborn to Detroit, Wants to be More Than a Museum...”


  • avatar

    If any of you would like to learn more about Roy Lunn, I profiled him for TTAC a while back. Not only was he in charge of the Ford GT40 program, he also headed the engineering for the Boss 429 Mustang and later was chief engineer for American Motors where he was in charge of the engineering for the XJ Cherokee (maybe the most durable American vehicle ever made) and the Eagle 4X4 was his idea too.

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/car-guys-gals-you-should-know-about-roy-lunns-resume-ford-gt40-boss-429-mustang-jeep-xj-cherokee-amc-eagle-4×4-and-more/

    It’s a credit to to the Automotive Hall of Fame and its breadth of vision that they honored Ralph Nader this year. I’m no fan of Mr. Nader, but he belongs in the AHoF.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Ronnie I love ya but Nader in the Hall of Fame?

      Maybe if a wax museum run by Vincent Price kinda hall…but he is more notorious than anything else to me.

      Besides, I am not a lover of any so called Hall of Fame. They are run by people who, especially in the Rock H of F, try to control and manipulate the real fame. They have to much PC mixed into the selections.

      Just let it all alone and write books.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        Trailertrash
        You are correct. Rock and Roll HOF is a Pile of $hi+.

        Grand Funk Railroad is not in. They out sold Led Zepp in certain years.

        Abba is in.

        • 0 avatar

          Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels have been blacklisted for some reason at the R&R HoF.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          And I recall the conversation at the induction table. The Moody Blues. my fav band, was suggested and the witch running the discussion just started laughing and said…no. never.

          End of discussion.

          So please. a band that single handedly introduced the synth/orchestra/rock sound is just not good enough.

          Jethro Tull…not big enough.

          Not like say, Green Day. Joan Jett (OK. I like her, but most of her was simply covers). Well…and so many others that did little and hell, many are not even rock.

          • 0 avatar
            BobinPgh

            TT I agree with all you are saying, but what do you expect? The RRHOF is in Cleveland, after all, where the only sign of life is:

            Pittsburgh
            OH Turnpike, I76

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      Ralph Nader hates cars. He belongs in the Rogue’s Gallery.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I don’t understand why you think he “hates cars.” if anything, he hated the lackadaisical attitude the carmakers had towards safety in the ’50s and ’60s. Everyone blames “Unsafe at Any Speed” for killing the Corvair, but the bulk of the book wasn’t about it. it was about the “Safety doesn’t sell” mindset. The Corvair was doomed because it was too weird and too expensive. Ralph Nader didn’t kill it, the Chevy II (Nova) did.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          From wikipedia:

          “In early March 1966, several media outlets, including The New Republic and The New York Times, reported that GM had tried to discredit Nader, hiring private detectives to tap his phones and investigate his past, and hiring prostitutes to trap him in compromising situations.[18][19] Nader sued the company for invasion of privacy and settled the case for $425,000. Nader’s lawsuit against GM was ultimately decided by the New York Court of Appeals, whose opinion in the case expanded tort law to cover “overzealous surveillance”.[20] Nader used the proceeds from the lawsuit to start the pro-consumer Center for Study of Responsive Law.”

          It sounds like the efforts to ruin Ralph Nader’s legacy continue.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Not knowing Michigan/Detroit, I thought “Oh, Dearborn is probably a suburb like 20 miles outside the city, so they’re missing downtown traffic.”

    It’s only like five miles!

    Sometime I’m going to come up there for the Auto Show and museums. It’s not even that far.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Dearborn shares a border with Detroit’s south west side.

      the problem I have with this is that people (Dan Gilbert, the Ilitches, etc.) only seem to give a s**t about downtown Detroit. It’s all well and good that the riverfront and downtown are rebuilding, but nobody cares about the still-decaying (or outright gone) neighborhoods surrounding it. I’ve had to get off of I-94 a couple of times due to closures, and took Harper down to Grand Blvd. much of what I see along those stretches is just sad, and not getting any better.

      • 0 avatar
        padman4

        it might be the only way to revitalize these areas is if Detroit has a strong downtown core to build out from.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          it’s possible, but even Nolan Finley (opinion page editor for the Detroit News and a solid conservative) says that there’s a “stratification” happening in Detroit. Downtown is “owned” by a handful of powerful businessmen (e.g. Dan Gilbert, the Ilitch family) and appeals to suburban hipsters who come down for events, then retreat back to the suburbs. Then downtown is ringed with poor black neighborhoods who nobody wants to move into. His position is that unless black entrepreneurs and business owners aren’t part of the downtown re-vitalization, this divide is only going to get worse and lead to more problems down the road.

          http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/columnists/nolan-finley/2014/12/14/black-people/20322377/

          http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2016/02/24/bing-black-residents-left-detroits-comeback/80877018/

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          We can call it Delta City.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Is a mausoleum more than a museum?

  • avatar

    I suppose that not wanting to be considered either part of Ford or part of The Henry Ford (which includes the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village) has prevented the AHoF from exploiting its proximity to the museum and the two million people a year that visit it.

    I go to lots of car museums and even though they’re just a few hundred feet from one of the best car museums in the world, the Automotive Hall of Fame is still worth a visit.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    This seems to run counter to the concept of locating yourself next to your competitors if you want to generate more traffic (“location, location, location”); being next to the Henry Ford would seem more like a benefit than a liability.

    There is a reason why many big cities have an “art” or “museum” district. Downtowns are good for businesses, but not so much for tourists, who have to deal with traffic, parking, and security when away from the arts and museum areas. Sounds like a bad idea to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It seems like they are looking for space in the city’s “Museum District”. Just north of downtown are a bunch of museums. The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Historical Museum, Michigan Science Center, African American History Museum, Motown Museum, Ford’s Piquette Plant, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and others run by Wayne State University.

  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    “…wants to expand the facility’s scope and become part of Detroit’s resurgence…”

    What resurgence do you speak of?

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      If you were in the city’s core in 2006 and then in 2016 you would see and feel the difference. You either haven’t been to Detroit’s Downtown/Midtown/New Center area then and now, or you are just trolling.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Why hot support a museum in the true birthplace of the automobile – Stuttgart.

    • 0 avatar

      The Viennese would disagree. See: Marcus, Siegfried.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        Siegfried Marcus did produce a horseless carriage a few years earlier than Karl Benz. He never claimed to be the inventor of the horseless carriage or applied for a patent. More important, he did not found the corporate predecessor of Mercedes Benz.

        Henry Ford and Karl Benz were the two giants of the early industry.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Reasonable people can disagree over the origins of the automobile. Marcus certainly had a key role.

          The more obvious objection is why Americans would move the museum to Europe? It would be like deciding to move the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame from Cleveland to Liverpool.


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