Henry Ford

Full-Throttle Thursday

Tiller Bar.jpg

As far as most people are concerned, cars have always had steering wheels; however, not so.  The first internal combustion car ever made, the Patent Motorwagen designed by Karl Benz in 1885, was steered using a tiller bar. Tiller bar technology can be traced to boats, as they are often used to guide the direction they travel in water. Tillers work fine as far as moving the wheels in the direction you need them to go, but might become a nuisance with making wide turns - hitting oneself or passengers - and that may be the reason the steering wheel was developed within a decade of Benz's inventions. 

The first steering wheel appeared in 1894, on the French-made Panhard car designed by Alfred Vacheron and used in the famous Paris-Rouen race that year. The idea proved effective, and within four years, Panhard made them standard for their vehicles. Charles Rolls introduced them in his luxury vehicles the same year in Great Britain, as did Thomas Jeffery in his Ramblers. By 1904, all of Jeffery’s vehicles had steering wheels, and within a decade the tiller was almost completely abandoned. Simultaneously, American car owners started placing the wheel on the left-hand side of the car. That was in large part due to the decision Henry Ford made to locate it there, to nurture the rules of etiquette – forevermore, when an American car pulled up to a curb, the (often female) passenger got out of a car onto the safety of the sidewalk, while the (often male) driver dared passing traffic on the road side.

Full-Throttle Thursday

1967 Ford Mustang.jpg

The Ford Motor Company has been around for a very long time. 115 years as of June 16th, to be exact. The vision of a forty year-old tinkerer named Henry, the Ford Company has come a long way since they introduced their first Model A in 1903.  A bare-boned vehicle, the Model A could not have anticipated the future. Five years and numerous model changes later, the Model T was the big one - it made car ownership affordable, and allowed even the common person to see themselves on the road. Since this is just a blog and not an epic, we now jump ahead sixty-two years. The Ford Company of 1965 may not have been the power house it was in the early days - in 1918, one of every two cars on the road was a Ford! - but they still drew attention when they made a good car that people wanted. That would have been the first year given to the Mustang (it was really a '64, but, well, never mind).

The Ford Mustang was an instant winner, and the most successful Ford since the Model A. In fact, it continues to be in production to this day, with overhauls happening pretty regularly since its original introduction. There are a few Mustangs available to admire here at the American Treasure Tour. One, not easily visible but definitely on display in our Toy Box, is a Third Generation Mustang from 1987.  Available in coupe, hatchback, and convertible styles, ours is a soft-top convertible looking snazzy but still kinda practical. Next time you take our tram ride, make a point to notice it, parked among the other cars. Another winner in the Toy Box.

Full-Throttle Thursday

1922 Steamer.jpg

Question:  What type of car was considered one of the most reliable on the road, one of the most powerful, and one of the most exclusive right around 1908?
Answer:  The Stanley Steamer.  1908 was the year Henry Ford introduced his Model T, which would become hugely popular in just a few years' time. But it would never be regarded as especially easy to drive, nor would it be well regarded for its ability to climb hills. Steamers at that time were also difficult to drive, but they were superior at hill climbing. They worked off of water pressure, not torque. Jump ahead about fifteen years and the Model T dominated the roads, and steam-powered vehicles had fallen below the curve. Gas-powered vehicle technology advanced leaps and bounds by 1922, but steam was fundamentally the same. They got outpaced and would end soon as an affective competition against gas power.

The 1922 Steamer we have on display in our Toy Box is one of the last of a dying breed of water-powered cars, and it's a beauty, too.  We invite you to take a close look at it and, if you're curious as to how to get one of these babies running, check out the video segment from Jay Leno's Garage: 

Full Throttle Thursday

Cars.  We love cars here at the Treasure Tour.  And we love all sorts of cars - even the occasional foreign car (but don't tell anyone about that!).  One of the more unlikely cars we have displayed in our Toy Box is the Woods Mobilette - a part of the short-lived "cycle car" fad of the early 1900's, the idea behind cycle cars was to make them cheaper than other four-wheel vehicles on the road, but more stable than motorcycles, the cheapest form of motorized vehicle out there at the time.

Woods Mobilette.jpg

Cycle cars tended to not only be cheaper, but also more fuel efficient - something people didn't give all that much thought to in the nineteen-teens.  They were much tinier than other vehicles on the road, too, which turned into something of a disadvantage.  Because the axles were narrower than other cars, they actually didn't fit in the wheel ruts in the dirt roads.  And, if you'll notice in our picture, the two seats don't sit side-by-side.  They're catercorner.  Alas, the cycle car era ended in the late-nineteen-teens, in no small part thanks to the price wars between Ford and General Motors.

Monday at the Museum

Henry Ford Museum.jpg

The Treasure Tour blog gives and gives.  We share stories about pieces on display, we remind you that you should come to visit us on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for General Admission and, when you get restless on the four days each week we're only open for Group Tours, we encourage you to visit other cool places around the United States.  And let's be realistic - there are thousands of them!  Today, we recommend taking a quick jaunt out to Dearborn, Michigan, and three fascinating sites in one, affectionately called The Henry Ford.

The Henry Ford Museum displays almost every important American artifact NOT at any of the Smithsonian Institute affiliates - including the chair in which Abraham Lincoln was sitting on April 14, 1865, the bus where Rosa Parks sat in the wrong seat based on the primitive laws of segregation, and an amazing collection of cars once used for heads of state.  Greenfield Village is an awe-inspiring collection of buildings where history was made, including Thomas Edison's Menlo Park, NJ laboratory, the Wright Brothers' home, and Henry Ford's own birth home. And the Rouge Factory is the place where Ford automobiles have been made for decades.  Honestly, The Henry Ford is almost as cool as the American Treasure Tour!  https://www.thehenryford.org

Full Throttle Thursday

In this week's addition of Full Throttle Thursday, we would like to recognize a car ahead of its time!  A car that, when it was first introduced in 1939, was smaller than the competition, had excellent gas mileage, and disc brakes.  A car so narrow it could fit through the double doors of a department store so that it could be sold alongside the appliances made available by its famous parent company.  A car that -- we're talking about the Crosley, folks.  Enough drama.  We don't want your blood pressure to increase in anticipation.

Crosley Roadster.jpg

Powel Crosley Jr. was a business innovator who dabbled in pretty close to anything, but all he really wanted was to be the next big name in automobile production. His modest ambition was to replace Henry Ford as the number one seller of cars in the nation.  Alas, his fantasy never came true, but towards the end of the Great Depression, his small, economical cars became THE big thing. And then, after World War II was over, they became less of a big thing.  Then less.  Then they stopped selling.  Before 1953, they were done. A blip on the automotive timeline.  But they made their impact, with many people in the know describing Crosleys as the first sports car ever produced in the United States.  Now, long out of production, the best way to enjoy these charming beauties is to come to the American Treasure Tour to enjoy our Crosleys, or to go back in time to the late-30's to see a brand new one!  Coming to the Tour is easier....

Full Throttle Thursday

It's time again for the American Treasure Tour blog to delve into our automobile collection. Last week, we went modern (relatively speaking) with our 1956 Ford Fairlane.  THIS week, we're heading to the United States prior to World War II and the engineering improvements that occurred during the 1940's.


One company that few remember today that had a significant impact on the car industry was Willys.  The car we honor today is their 1927 Whippet - considered a compact vehicle at the time (hard to imagine), some automotive historians consider this the car that compelled Henry Ford to retire production of his Model T. The popularity of the Whippet was such that Ford's need to upgrade his car technology led to the introduction of the Model A that year. That's pretty significant.  Now, jump ahead fourteen years, and Willys contracted with the U.S. government to produce an all-purpose all-terrain vehicle for the military.  General Dwight D. Eisenhower described that car, the Jeep, as one of the most important vehicles in the Allied victory!


QUESTION:  Which of the following was never the name of a motor oil brand sold in the United States by a major producer?  
A)  Pennzoil
B)  Lubri-smooth
C)  Valvoline
D)  Royal Purple

The American Treasure Tour has all sorts of amazing items on display - we won't go through the list today, we promise. But every now and again we like to point out some of the pieces that don't get their proper due. Today, we honor the can of Veedol Motor Oil displayed on a shelf near our dual Wurlitzer 165's.  Good old Veedol.  Veedol was the creation of the Tidewater Petroleum Company, established in 1887, with refineries located in the industrialized northern New Jersey town of Bayonne.  Tidewater Petroleum also operated numerous gas stations, as well as other Flying-A branded products for many years. The largest stockholder in Tidewater (Tide Water until the 1930's) was a small company named Standard Oil, today's ExxonMobil. They sold out to John Paul Getty, who expanded the influence of the company before BP (British Petroleum) bought him out.  When the Phillips Company took over Tidewater in 1966, they converted the Flying-A gas stations into Phillips 66 in the west.  In the east, Getty held on until a 1984 sellout to Texaco.

Meanwhile, Veedol motor oil did very well.  Henry Ford advocated it for use in his incomprehensibly successful Model T cars. Richard Byrd used it during his expedition to the South Pole in 1928, and it was the chosen lubricant for the first around-the-world flight, made by the German Graf Zeppelin airship (a.k.a. blimp) in 1929.  The first trans-Pacific flight occurred two years later in a plane called the Miss Veedol - we won't tell you which lubricant they used - and in 1979, Veedol synthetic fuels were used on the Space Shuttle Columbia  during its testing phases. So, if you need a lubricant or a motor oil, Veedol is out there!  We do recommend you not try to use the can we have on display at the tour, though. That would be neither wise, nor nice.

ANSWER:  B)  Lubri-smooth.  We have not copyrighted the name if you want to use it. Just give us a call out, okay?

J.W. Whitlock

QUESTION:  Which of J.W. Whitlock's machines was once played for sitting President Richard Milhouse Nixon?
A)  Model A harp
B)  Model B harp
C)  Model 1 banjo
D)  Model 44 piano

You likely have never heard of a man named J.W. Whitlock; however, that is due more because of a disinclination to grab at headlines than it is because he lacked the innovative flair of peers such as Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. He also moved between projects such that his focus never lasted in one place for very long.  He created an electric starter for automobiles (he discarded it once he saw another had been installed in a car), he created an arcade game depicting a miniature horse race, but never bothered to patent it or produce many. It never reached a mass audience because he didn't want to devote the time to it. He also designed a boat for Henry Ford intended to traverse swampland. It was an early form of the fan boat. Although it never reached mass production, it did show Whitlock's understanding of water vessels.  He did reach people with his skills as a speedboat racer, making records that remain in place to this day.

His greatest legacy, as far as the American Treasure Tour is concerned, is associated with his design and development of an automatic harp machine.  He began work on it in 1899, and his relationship with these magnificent machines lasted for almost twenty years.  He produced around 1,500 harps for the Wurlitzer Company, who sold them across the country.  They were hugely popular for a number of years, providing elegant music for people wanting a quiet experience.  Now, they are considered one of the pieces in the great trifecta of stringed automatic musical instruments, alongside the Encore banjo machine and the Mills Violano Virtuoso.  The American Treasure Tour proudly displays all three in our collection.

ANSWER:  B)  Model B harp

Henry Ford - July 30, 2014

On this day in 1863, Henry Ford, the Father of the Automobile, was born. 


Henry and Clara Ford had one child named…

a)   Henry Jr.

b)   Clara

c)    Edsel

d)   Victoria

Answer below!



Mustang Sally sung by Wilson Pickett


We have several Ford vehicles in our collection here at the American Treasure Tour, including the 1952 Ford F-1 Pickup below, a Model A below that, and a few model T's (not pictured).

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.
~Henry Ford


c)    Edsel


Stephanie Powers - June 16, 2014

It has been a while since last we visited the "Faces of the Tour," the collection of celebrity photographs on display throughout the American Treasure Tour's Toy Box.  It's time to change that.  And today, we are happy to talk about the career of Stephanie Powers.

Powers is one of a very small population of Americans actually born and raised in Hollywood, California.  A schoolmate with Nancy Sinatra, Powers started acting at a young age, and got parts in many films and television shows, with her big break coming with The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., the spin-off to the popular 1960's spy show The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which lasted only one season. Twelve years later, she co-starred with Robert Wagner in Hart to Hart.  The show lasted for five years, after which she has continued to appear on both stage and screen to this day.

QUESTION:  Loyal ATT blog readers will recall that we have discussed numerous movie posters on display in our Music Room.  Which of the following Stephanie Powers films was discussed in a past blog entry?

a)  The Magnificent Seven Ride!

b)  Herbie Rides Again

c)  The Boatniks

d)  Experiment in Terror

Answer Below


111 years ago today, a very important thing happened in Dearborn, Michigan:  The Ford Company was incorporated.  Automobiles had been around for a while, but none would make them as affordable as would the founder of the company, Henry Ford.  Everybody can Afford a Ford was the motto, and, indeed, it seemed that everybody bought them.  By the millions, cars came off the assembly line and filled the roads.  Today, thanks to Ford and his contemporaries, owning a car seems more important than owning a house for many Americans.

Today in 1967, a music festival began in the town of Monterey, California, that inspired a sense of community for many of its anti-war attendees.  It was called the Monterey Pop Festival, and it became closely associated with what was called "The Summer of Love."  It was also the first major live performance of many musical acts, including Jimmy Hendricks, the Who, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding.  Monterey became the event all others aspired to emulate, including the one two years later popularly known as Woodstock.


Today, we would like to celebrate the birthday of a mostly-forgotten talent from the first half of the twentieth century.  His name was Bobby Clark, and he was a comedian who performed in vaudeville and the circus, while also making an occasional appearance in front of the camera. If Clark was to be recognized, it would be because of his trademark glasses, which he actually drew onto his face.  He starred in numerous films between the 1920s and 1950s.  Look him up the next time you're looking for something new in old cinema.

Joan Van Ark also celebrates a birthday today.  The television actress turns seventy.  Her resume is long.  She began acting in her twenties, and has not stopped since.  Like Stephanie Powers, she appeared in numerous programs during her career, stopping only once in a while for series work, most notably playing Valene Ewing in both Dallas and Knots Landing.  Happy seventy!

QUOTE:  Journalists have made celebrity into an industry. - Stephanie Powers.

Answer:  c)  The Boatniks, co-starring Phil Silvers and Norman Fell.  We know.  You didn't really need the answer, since it is so obvious.