I have a confession to make. Cars were never my cup of tea. If you asked me about how many litres were consumed, how many valves, how much horsepower, how many gears etc about my car you will be answered with a blank smiling face. My face is saying “err, mmm, uh…well, I don’t know and I don’t care”. However, I consider cars as the most ingenious invention that changed the world. In fact, it changed mine at the ripe age of thirty-six, when this bag of nerves passed her driving test after the fifth try. Since then, freedom has been mine! So, it was understandable when I say that last year’s visit to the LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma bored me to the point where I expected to just sit in one corner for an hour, waiting for the people I was with, to finish.
Two weeks ago, Discovery Channel featured a three-part series about the history of the American Cars. Watching the show for three hours made me remember the trip to Le May Car Museum in Tacoma. Now I understand the men behind the Model T, Model L, Pontiac, Chevrolet, Dodge and more. Thank God I took a few photos during my visit. Now I can share the much delayed enthusiasm from that visit
The Model T was Ford’s first automobile mass-produced on moving assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts, marketed to the middle class. Henry Ford said of the vehicle:
“ I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”
The Model-T paved the way for domestic tourism. Thanks to a visionary man like Henry Ford, the freeways were opened and developed to perfection. Driving in the motorways of the UK and highways of the UAE, allows me to personally conclude that the USA has the best road planning and easy accessibility. If you lose your way, finding it back is as easy as one, two, three.
Like any other family, the Fords had their fair share of drama. After the success of his Model T, Henry got stuck and was unable to let go of the past which did not help in terms of his relationship with his son, Edsel Ford.
After becoming the president of Ford, Edsel long advocated the introduction of a more modern automobile to replace the Model T, but was repeatedly overruled by his father. Dwindling market share finally made introduction of a new model inevitable: the Model A.
As president, Edsel Ford often disagreed with his father on major decisions and was occasionally humiliated in public by the older man. The relationship between the father and son was always close, but always fraught with unhealthy aspects. Edsel managed to introduce many lasting changes. He founded and named the Mercury division. He was responsible for the Lincoln Zephyr and Continental. He significantly strengthened Ford Motors’ overseas production and modernized the company’s cars, such as by introducing hydraulic brakes. Edsel once said, “Father made the most popular cars in the world; I want to make the best.”
He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1968.
I am sure that if I happen to revisit Tacoma in the future, a trip to LeMay Car Museum is a must for me. This time, I shall view these cars with a genuine interest and a newfound excitement. Soon I do hope!