Looking for a great family-friendly fall fling? E3 Spark Plugs recommends a visit to the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex in Detroit, Michigan. It’s the birthplace of the Model T Ford and its 2001 season comes to a close November 20.
The Piquette Avenue plant is a major national historic landmark and is the place where the Ford Motor Co. firmly established itself as the nation’s largest manufacturer of cars. The impetus for record-setting production was the Model T, considered the most important car of the 20th century and the first widely affordable family car.
Said founder Henry Ford of the Model T: “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.”
Ford accomplished just that with the Model T, building the first 12,000 at the plant, locally known as the “T Plex,” between 1908 and 1909. The plant houses Ford’s first office, though research shows he spent very little time there. Instead, he was most likely could be found in the shop, the top secret experimental department, the drafting room or the power plant. Anecdotes provided by those who knew him allude to not only a genius inventor but an avid practical joker as well. Ford, they say, had a penchant for nailing hats to desktops and electrifying doorknobs, giving the next guy through the doorway quite the shock.
Much of the plant remains exactly as it looked over a century ago, complete with several original “Positively No Smoking” signs stenciled in 1904. Several Model Ts and other Piquette-era Fords are onsite and a team of retired Ford engineers is working to preserve the 355 double-hung windows, each of which requires upwards of 55 man hours of restoration.
The plant typically is open for visitors April through November. The 2011 season wraps Nov. 20, so make your plans to visit soon. And be sure to post photos of your visit on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook fan page.