The Driving America exhibit in The Henry Ford Museum is not your average exhibit that simply commemorates the country’s love for its automobiles. “What makes this exhibition different from most,” said Bob Casey during the debut of the Driving America exhibit in 2012, “is that it looks at cars through the eyes of the people who use them, or in some cases, don’t use them.” Bob Casey is the senior curator of transportation of the Henry Ford Museum.
“Visitors will be asked to think about what attracted them to automobiles in the first place,” Casey explains “How have their definitions of style or luxury changed over time? How have their attitudes towards safety, or recreation, or environmental costs changed? Driving America uses The Henry Ford’s unparalleled collection to inspire visitors to think about these and other questions surrounding their relationships with the car.”
130 historic vehicles were selected from the museum’s inventory to be part of the Driving America exhibit. The exhibit also features 60 encased automobile artifacts, and 18 booths of 42 inch interactive touch screens containing videos, oral histories, and other information about the exhibit.
Some of the stars of the exhibit include an 1865 Roper, the museum tells us that this is the oldest steam-powered American car in existence; an 1896 Duryea, the only remaining first production American car; 1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale, only 3 of these were built and this one is #3.
The exhibit is divided in 20 different “focal areas” which displays a variety of classics from the simple family vans to the sportier race cars. There are also a collection of classic electric cars, and a display that features the evolution of road trip cars.
Two levels of a curved platform displays a timeline of cars as part of the Driving America exhibit.
Lamy’s Diner serves as the museum’s snack bar that serves food to the guests, they can enjoy their food at either its counter, booths or the museum’s terrace that overlooks several displays of the Driving America exhibit. Lamy’s Diner is a famous roadside eatery in the 1946.
The 1933 Willys drag racer and the 1967 Ford GT40 24 hours of Le Mans Champion
1913 Scripps-Booth Rocket, a prototype for the cycle car concept.
1908 Stevens-Duryea Model U limousine which is part of the ‘Style’ display.
A Mustang prototype that has its engine mounted in the middle, and one of the early convertibles mass produced.
The exhibit also features several presidential limos.
1951 Studebaker Champion Starlight coupe parked outside Lamy’s Diner
1957 DeSoto Fireflite next to the Holiday Inn motel sign
Ford’s famous ‘999’ that was driven by Barney Oldfield
1960 Meskowski dirt track racer
One of the earliest vehicles of America as part of the “timeline” display.
Henry Ford’s 1901 ‘Sweepstakes’ racer is the car that helped Ford get enough money and popularity to build the Ford Motor Co.
If you’re interested to see the exhibit, the Henry Ford museum is in Dearborn, Michigan next to Greenfield Village. The Village is also Henry Ford’s legacy that contains historical Ford buildings.
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