DEARBORN, Mich. — To kick off our coverage of the 2017 North American International Auto Show, we thought it was important to take a look back at automobile history. The Henry Ford Museum is the perfect place to do just that.
The museum is open all year long for car enthusiasts to check out both classic and antique vehicles all the way up to modern cars and trucks. It is a must-see during your trip to the Motor City.
Let’s begin with the 1914 Ford Model T. It was one of several Model Ts given to naturalist John Burroughs in an ultimately successful attempt to convince Burroughs that cars aided, rather than hindered, the study of nature. That same year, Henry Ford began paying his workers $5 for an eight hour day, making it possible for the workers who made the cars to also buy them. Look for the 1914 Model T within the museum’s Driving America exhibit.
The Presidential Cars are always a big crowd favorite at The Henry Ford Museum. One of them is a 1972 Lincoln Continental used by President Ronald Reagan. Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and George H.W. Bush also used that car. However, the most photographed is the 1961 Lincoln Continental in which President John F. Kennedy was shot back on the tragic day in November 1963. The midnight blue, un-armored convertible was rebuilt with a permanent roof, titanium armor plating, and more somber black paint.
Inventors Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were great friends. Edison actually placed a shovel in the concrete to signify the beginning of construction for the museum back on Sept. 27, 1928. That concrete block is still on display to this date. In addition, Edison’s last breath was saved in a test tube and is on view for visitors to check out.
It was Dec. 1, 1955 when Detroit native Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Many historians believe this decision sparked the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. That bus, built by General Motors, is on display within the museum’s With Liberty & Justice for All permanent exhibit. Museum goers can even sit in the exact spot where Parks once sat.
Also within that exhibit is the rocking chair that Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated on April 14, 1865 at Ford’s Theatre. It happened five days after the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army. In January 1930, the chair arrived at Greenfield Village and was later relocated to the museum in 1980.
The Henry Ford Museum features all types of vehicles from passenger sedans to motorcycles to race cars and yes, even electric vehicles. One of the more recent additions to the museum is a 2009 Ford Focus Electric hatchback. It was featured on NBC’s short-lived 10 p.m. “Jay Leno Show.” Only two of these promotional vehicles were ever built. The other is on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Stay with AmericaJR.com for complete coverage leading up to the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. We’ll post dozens of articles, galleries and video reports during press week.
The Henry Ford Museum is located at 20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, MI 48124‑5029. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, call 313-982-6001 or 800-835-5237.