o52VgS2M Classic Americana at the HF Museum
Classic Americana at the HF Museum
Classic Americana

Henry had a passion for collecting

If you are an automotive enthusiast, then the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village complex in Dearborn, USA, must be on your bucket list.

This vast shrine to the achievements of the 19th and 20th Century is crammed full of the historic, the exotic, the weird, the classic, the everyday and the mundane.

If I had to sum it up, the Museum and Village house a collection that charts technological progress and the changes in everyday life. 

There are trains, stage coaches, airplanes and four Presidential limousines, including the John F. Kennedy Lincoln.

The bus in which civil rights hero Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a young white man is here.

American memorabilia abounds in all the nooks and crannies of the vast exhibition halls.

And then there are the cars, of all description and brand name. 

From a rare Bugatti to a 1967 Toyota Corona, to a ’55 Chevrolet, to the first Mustang built, to a green-on-green 1973 Chrysler Newport.

Jim Clark’s 1965 Indy 500 winning Lotus/Ford is on display, one of the few Indy race winners not in the track’s museum.

Henry Ford’s original quadricycle is here, too.

He started collecting “relics”, as he called them, in 1914. 

Six years earlier his Model T had been released and the money had started pouring into his bank account.

He could afford to collect.

“I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used. I think this is the best way of preserving our history and tradition”, he once said.

By the early 1920s, the collection was growing exponentially and Henry realised he needed a bigger place.

And so, the Museum and Village idea was developed. 

Construction work began in 1928 and is still ongoing.

The Village, which is separate to the Museum, is located across the road.

The Ford design studios and testing grounds are neighbours.

The Village reflects Ford’s idea of the “perfect” town at the turn of the 20th Century. 

Model T Fords and horse drawn carriages cruise the clean, neat streets. 

Visitors wander through large parks and walking trails.

Families picnic on the manicured lawns next to a lake.

There is a working railroad, with workshops and an engine turntable.

The Wright brothers’ workshop was rebuilt in the Village. 

There’s a replica of Thomas Edison’s laboratory and recreations of his most famous inventions. 

Ford’s first factory building is here, too.

The whole layout of the Village is eerily similar to an extended Main Street at Disneyland.

To properly tour the Museum and soak up the atmosphere of the Village takes three full days.

Then it’s back to the reality of 21st century America.

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos


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