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tv   American Artifacts Cars in America - Ford Model A to the Mustang  CSPAN  August 15, 2018 11:53am-12:25pm EDT

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machinery at the edison illuminating works and put the vehicle together and in june 1886 took his first drive through the streets of detroit. had a friend on a bicycle to warn folks it was coming. but that was it. he had done it. the vehicle is not terribly sophisticated. two cylinder gasoline engine. it's called a quadracycle. built with four bicycle tires and a chain drive. two cylinders off to the side on the side of the flywheel and a leather belt effectively giving you two speeds. top speed on the quadracycle is perhaps 15, maybe 20 miles per hour downhill on smooth pavement. you don't want to go faster because it has no brake. that wasn't a problem in 1896. most of the streets cobblestone or brick surface and ford could drag his foot to sell it down. he did sell the vehicle and used
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the money to, of course, build his second car like any good entrepreneur a few years later he bought back did quadracycle. but of course he had a sentimental attachment to it and really been in the museum since mr. ford passed away in 1947. our next vehicle i want to look at here is up on the second level of our exhibit space here. this is our 1896 dura run about. traditional the american auto industry traces the start to this vehicle. it was built by a pair of brothers, charles and frank in springfield, massachusetts, actually. not detroit. and they built 13 of these cars so certainly not what we would call mass production or large-scale production but the point is that all 13 of these cars were more or less identical. so this was serious production. this was not building a car as a one off kind of custom job. traditionally thinking of the start of the american automobile industry we think of 1896.
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a lot of people will ask, why the industry centered itself here in detroit. why it wasn't in massachusetts. why it wasn't in indianapolis, in cleveland, in chicago. any one of those cities had a robust automobile business at the turn of the century. and, you know, there were advantages here in detroit. close to raw ferrells. iron ore from minnesota. coal from the coal fields of pennsylvania, west virginia. we are between the two with the system of the great lakes to connect them. we had a lot of capital in detroit. a lot of eager investors ready to risk money in the new endeavor. we had great pool of skilled labor. folks building carriages or machinery or stoves, railroad cars, big industries in detroit before car but the simple answer is people. we had a critical mass of dreelers and doers. henry ford here in dearborn. olds in lansing. durant in flint. the dodge brothers in windsor and then detroit. enough of the people kind of came together in detroit that it worked as kind of a magnet
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drawing others to this area and very shortly by 1905 well established as the world's motor capital. certainly in the united states. in front of the columbia here or in front of the durai we have a columbia of 1901. it is an electric powered vehicle. we take for granted now that all of the vehicles or most of them are powered by gasoline and certainly when it was introduced, three viable fuel choices. you can have gasoline. you can have electric. and you can have steam. each one had its own advantages and disadvantages. electric then just as now, cleaner, quieter, easier to drive. flip a switch. you didn't have to crank the engine to get it started or shift gears with the transportation once you were going but they had the same disadvantages. the weight of the batteries which reduced the mileage or travel range and then range anxiety. people being afraid of running out of battery power and being
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stranded in the middle of nowhere. even today people are frightened at the thought of running out of power and a serious issue 117 years ago driving around in a rural area and run out of charge and electrification didn't exist at that time. and we can walk further up to take a look at a couple of ford vehicles. after two failed attempts to start a successful automobile company henry ford finds success with ford motor company established in june of 1903 when ford himself is very nearly 40 years old so this is a time when a lot of men would have been happily settled in the careers and working toward retirement but ford was willing to keep risking things to succeed in the automobile industry and it would pay off for him. he started with the model an of 1903. here's a great example of the vehicle. it is very much what we might call a horseless carriage and
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doesn't necessarily look like a car. the engine is not under the hood. there is no hood. the engine sits under the driver's seat there and you can't see it, of course. it is hidden understood the seat in the frame but you can see a small port off to the side and that is where you would shift the crank or insert the crank to turn the engine and get it running. the engine is trance versely mounted which means the cylinder banks running perpendicular to the drive shaft. on this car, there's not a drive shaft as we know it today. it is chain driven a. lot of bicycle technology in the early automobiles. this car would have cost roughly $850. which sounds like a bargain today but that was a time when the average annual wage was something less than $500. so a fairly pricey purchase at this time. though certainly less expensive than cars for $1,500 and $2,000 and plenty of them in 1903. ford worked through the alphabet
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and we have the model b logically enough. and this looks more like what we would understand to be a car today. it's got now a hood out front. that is idea borrowed from the europeans. in france and germany, they first started putting engines out in front of the car under the hood rather than under the driver's seat there and some advantages to that. it gave you more room to allow for a larger and more powerful engine and perhaps helped with the cooling of the engine, too. to sit up there with wind or some air flowing as the car drove down the road and wouldn't get sitting under the seat. still a crank start. you see the crank out the front and we talked about the advantages between electric cars and gasoline cars and certainly the biggest advantage of electrics had at that time was that you could get out and just flip a switch and off you went and with the gasoline powered cars you had to crank them by hand and not only physically difficult but dangerous. if the car would kick back, people would sometimes break wrists or flip back and hit them
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in the jaw and cause pretty serious injuries. people were happy when the self starter was introduced. electric start but not until 1912 and started on cadillac. it happened then just as it does today. some of the big innovations on the higher priced or luxury brands and then work down to the more buyer friendly brands, if you will. as people walk through the museum and look at the early ford cars, they're often struck by the location of the steering wheel on the right-hand side. what we would associate with great britain today. you know, all of of our cars have the steering wheels on the left side now but this was really a subject of fairly v vigorous debate. there were logical arguments for both. in america, we tended to always drive on the right side of the road just as we do today so some would suggest, well then, the steering wheel to be on the right side of the car so when we get out we can get out directly on to the curb or the side of
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the road and don't exit into moving traffic and some of us probably say is still a problem today. but those who argued for the steering wheel on the left side of the car say, no, important to be on the side facing oncoming traffic because some of the roads, of course, very narrow at that time. much narrower than what we used to today so with the driver on the left side of the vehicle he would be able to keep a better eye on the on coming traffic and clearing with enough space. not to mention, of course, a lot of horse-drawn traffic on the american roads at this time and horses cause problems of their own. you want to make sure you're driving at a safe enough distance out scaring or spooking the horses or the driver behind the horses for that matter. ford settled on putting the steering wheel on the left side of the car by the time of the model t so if you look at the '14 model t, the steering wheel is where we expect to find it. this is a 1914 example. it is painted black and that is time now when black is only choice as a part of the
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production streamlining process. and model t was a very well built car. quite state of the art for 1908, 1909 when it was introduced a. lot of cars at that time still using wood frames. the model t was built of steel. an alloy which was lighter than standard steel and also very strong so that helped the car to hold up over the generally terrible roads in america at that time. you see the car also sits fairly high off the ground. very flexible suspension and can handle ruts in the road, handle rough bumps and tall enough to clear some ruts or even stumps that might be in some roads. we take for granted that we have pavement now everywhere but this is a time when where if you ground gravel or stone covered road you were doing well. most of them were pure dirt on the ground and that was it and took a few years to improve. it also took a few years for the model t's production process to improve. originally cars produced by the stationary assembly method and
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say a team of workers start from the ground up and build the complete car taking from 12 to 12 1/2 hours to build a single car from scratch. ford begins to experiment with the moving assembly line in 1913 and he starts by building the electrical generators that produce the current for the spark that operates the gasoline engine, the spark that causes the ignition that allows the car to operate. and he found that by building it instead of one person build it by hand and adding a part and push it down to the next person saving tremendous amount of time and from that, he began applying those moving assembly techniques to other parts of the car and the process more sophisticated. instead of just turning a part, he brought in moving platforms and a chain to move the part and not only helped regulate the speed of the work but the speed of the workers and everyone was working at roughly the same pace
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and not too long before they were building whole cars with the process. and this model t is very much symbolic of that and that innovation allowed the production to take off. before the moving assembly line ford could sell as many cars as he could build and wanted to build as many cars as he could sell and it allowed him to do that. unfortunately, the moving assembly line took a lot of the skill out of the work of building the cars. people thought of themselves as craftsman and certainly were. they were highly skilled individuals. of course, the whole point of the moving assembly line to take that skill out of the process to make the workers interchangeable just like the parts in the car and many got tired of the work. they waublked off the job and fd found the best way to keep workers on the job to attract them to the work is to pay them more and introduced the $5 a day
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wage and that proved to be the sweet spot. workers were lining up at the door to work for $5 a day and that was enough to kind of offset the tedium that came with the moving assembly line process. if there was a flaw to model t it was that ford held on to the design too long rmt he built 15 million of these cars. state of the art again in 1908, 1909. he kept building them largely unchanged into the mid-1920s and by 1925, 1926, it is a dinosaur and superceded by anything else on the road. tried to boost sales. he could reintroduce color. you could buy a model t in a color other than black and only other thing to drop the price on the car. you can only cut the profits so much before the company can't afford to do it. i think ford got to one point in the mid-'20s making as little as $2 on each model t he built and wasn't sustainable and after a lot of hard, hard thinking and
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soul searching, ford motor company ends production of the model t in 1927 and basically has to shut down the plant for six months to retool for the next car which we'll take a look at here. the build-up from the model t to its successor car was one of the great early examples of marketing in the automobile industry. people were absolutely fascinated by what ford was doing and purposely was secretive and kind of coy about the work that was going into the new car to keep people guessing because as long as they were guessing ford motor company and ford's name was in papers to build anticipation and stimulate future sales for the next car. after that six-month shutdown, ford introduced the new vehicle and basically as revolutionary as everybody hoped. this is an example here. this is the model a. not koins ecoincidentally the s the first car model a and the reason again was to suggest this
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car is so new, so radically different from model t as though we started over from scratch and today we would call it kind of rebooting the company. but the model a was produced i think ford probably had visions of building it for another 15 years as with model t but that wasn't practical anymore by the late 1920s. cars and the technology improving and changing so rapidly he got four years and sold roughly 5 million cars in that period. tremendous success but the days of a long lasting car to be built for ten, 15 or more years were past. one of the ideosyncracies of the model an is how it was driven. you had to shift by means of a floor pedal between the low and high gear and could be confusing even for a driver then. certainly confuse us today. model a finally adopted the standard kind of three speed sliding gear transportation we would recognize today for those
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who still drive manual transportation cars and a four cylinder engine. little more powerful and faster and available in colors and first ford with real style in it. in fact, a lot of design is credited to edsel ford, henry ford's son. henry was interested in the inner workings but not an eye or sense of a car. edsel ford did have that ability and borrowed ideas of lincoln, one of the ford's subsidiary companies in the model a. some people refer to them as baby lincolns and very attractive. they have aged very well and popular with collectors even today. the last vehicle we looked at was our model an introduced in late 1927. we're jumping ahead now 30 years to a car introduced in late 1957 for the 1958 model year. the original model a had been
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designed largely by edsel ford. this car we're looking at is an edsel named in honor of edsel ford who at that point passed away. he didn't have anything to do with designing this car and one of the great historical ironies of the automobile business when people think of the name edsel they think of this car which, unfortunately, is a sin no, ma'am fsynonym for failure. and edsel ford himself was really a very respected designer, very talented designer and a shame to be tied with this car even though they tried to do something well by him and honor him in naming this car after him. the edsel had several problems behind it. at its introduction. ford at this point in the mid-1950s looking to compete more in general motors. general motors with a well established stepping system if you will, steppingstone system in the car brands. start with a chevrolet,
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oldmobile and buick and cadillac. ford has three divisions. ford brand. mercury in the midline and lincoln at the top of the chain. they thought they needed another step in there. edsel was introduced to be that fourth step in the ford motor company chain and ford introduced it with more raz matz than we could understand today. they had the edsel special with not just bing cosby but bob hope and frank sinatra and other big stars of the day singing the praises of the new car and when the big e-day or the rollout day appears it flops. people just aren't interested in this vehicle. i think there are perhaps three reasons for it. one, and the one that most people point to is the unconventional styling. look at the grill. sometimes called a horse collar grill. looks different than anything else on the road in the '50s. also got sometimes unflavor
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bring compared to other things saying it was a buick sucking on a lemon. not an attractive issue. one issue of edsel introduced in october of 1957 which is just as the russians launched the sputnik satellite and coincidentally or not the united states goes into a small recession at this point and people, of course, stopped buying large, expensive items when a recession hits. car sales were hit as a result of that. also frankly probably ford overpromised and under delivered. the edsel has things that i would call more like gimmicks. the speedometer is not just a simple needle across a dial or a bar. instead, it's almost like a floating compass in there. there's a dial that spinning around. the needle is stationary and that tells you your speed. okay. different. but is it an improvement? i don't think so. another of the much heralded ideas in edsel was the teletouch
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transportation. there are push buttons inside the steering wheel and i'll give edsel credit for that. in fact, paddle shifters are popular and it was perhaps on the kugtd edge as far as that was concerned but by and large they promised a little more than they actually delivered and edsel flamed out after about three model years, ford stopped building them and that is it. this is edsel serial number 1. it was given to us. i always like to think in the back of my mind ford excited thinking this is the greatest car we have ever built. we have to get it in the museum and it didn't quite work out that way. but it steal tells an interesting story and a car people now love. a quirky look about it. there's collector clubs, people fiercely loyal to these cars. next to it we have another failure but for different reasons. and this is another great style story, too. people will often ask me what my
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favorite car is in the collection. it depends on the day. i change my mind frequently. in my heart of hearts to pick a favorite it would be this, the 1948 tucker. and this was a car introduced right after world war ii by preston tucker, a master salesman. he'd done some work with harry miller with indianapolis 500 race cars and worked with ford in the mid-'30s that didn't work out for ford and didn't harm tucker. tucker realized a lot of people hadn't bought a new car in years, first the great depression prevented them and then of course new cars weren't built and available in the war so there's tremendous pent-up demand for new vehicles after the war. a seller's market. tucker realizes it's as good of time as ever to get into the industry. others started to build cars after the war, too. but tucker introduced this vehicle. he didn't want just any car but something radically different to separate himself from the
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detroit three. chrysler, ford, general motors. his car looks, again, unconventional. three headlights now instead of just two and that headlight in the center is wired to the steering wheel so as you turn the car, turn the front wheels, that light will turn on and then turn with the wheels to kind of shine your way around blind corners at night. kind of a clever idea. most radical departure of standard design, the engine in the back. it's a rear-mounted engine, a time when the volkswagen beetle is just coming on to the scene and pretty radical stuff at the time and things like seat belts, it had windshield to pop out in the event of a crash so it would be safe and away from the car. it also had a streamlined design, as well. it looks very slick, sleek even today. it has a rare windshield we would call a fast back. here's a car, you know, some 20 years before that showing that design, as well. the problem was tucker was i
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think the best way to say it is a little fish in a big pond now going to building cars and was just kind of out of his league. he was able to raise something like $20 million. well, that was nowhere near enough. you had to talk $200 million if you're going to start a scuffle auto company. i think the point in his story is that even at this point when the seller's market as good as it would ever be, the auto industry closed to newcomers, too expensive. the economies of scale that they enjoyed could not be appreciated or realized by smaller auto makers and tucker only able to build about 50 cars before he was forced to shut down. he also had some shall we say creative financing endeavors going on, as well. he would sell stock in the company, of course. as much as he could. he was also selling things like radios or accessories for these cars on the promise that, you know, buy a radio now and then have the car delivered to you
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later on. the fcc didn't take a particularly kind view on those kind of financing habits. tucker went to trial for some of these things. he was found not guilty but unfortunately that was not enough to save the tucker automobile company. we have just looked at the 1958 edsel citation, a greatest failure in the history of the automobile industry. so karma fortunately works out as it does. not long after edsel ford got to enjoy one of the largest successes in the automobile industry to make up for the loss on the edsel and that's with the ford mustang and the one behind me here is serial number one. first production mustang. this is where it all began and mustang unlike anything else being built at the time it was introduced in 1964. this was a car designed to look cool for one thing. you could buy corvettes at that time. they certainly looked cool. corvettes were fairly
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impractical. they were designed more as second cars or third cars if you were extremely well off. things to take for fun road trips. a mustang you could use as a practical daily driver, picking up groceries, kids. what have you. it's not just got two seats but four seats. you can get the kids back there. mustang also was built with a number of options. many, many different options. and it was, in fact, advertised by ford as being designed to be designed by you. so buyers were encouraged to personalize the vehicles whether it be with different colors, trim packages, with accessories of things like air conditioning was a fairly ladida feature. i think the most extravagant accessory to get on the early mustang is a black and white television to mount under the dash and thinking back perhaps a television to watch driving
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wasn't the best idea and the first car designed and targeted specifically at the baby boomer market. we think about 1964, now they're getting the driver's license. some of the oldest now starting to move on, get a job and starting to purchase automobiles. so here's a car that is practical or can be practical if you option it appropriately and looks like a ferrari with the egg grate grill on there. this is a car not only to see but a car love to be seen in. no surprise that they sold so spectacularly well. sold over 400,000 of them in short order. the mustang was introduced in april of 1964 which is kind of unconventional. automakers then as now introduce the new cars in the fall but this was part of ford's campaign. not only introducing it in april allow dodd get a jump of about six months on the competition and seems futuristic. we can buy a 1965 model year car
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and also allowed ford to tie in the introduction with the new york world's fair. had a big announcement there and folks lined up everywhere to see the new cars. the excitement. the hype around them was so big and in this case the car did live up to the hype and in fact mustang continues to be produced today and never out of production all those years. certainly changed a lot over the years. went from the original vision as kind of a fairly compact car, in fact, based on the ford falcon platform which was ford's compact car at the time. it grew through the 19406 into an engine muscle car. the early '80s, almost full sized vehicles and not the compact things they were and then smaller again through the '70s and so they have grown and shrunk over the years. a bit larger now. but still very loved and mustang is one of those cars like corvette, like thunderbird and a few others where the name transcends the car. almost a lifestyle unto itself
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and pleased to have mustang one here in the collection. it was sent to canada. it was originally only spezed to be on display in the dealership to draw in customers and order a car to be delivered. but there was an airline pilot by the name of stanley tucker, a good salesman himself and talked the dealership into selling him this car. he owned it for about a year and a half. the whole time ford worked furiously to get it back from him and i think very quickly realized the mustang's an important car and should have serial number one saved for the company and worked out a deal to give him a 1966 mustang fully loaded, no surprise, in exchange and brought him down here to dearborn and meet lee iocca and the man largely with coming up with the concept and gave him a good time and gave up the car and came to us shortly thereafter. in 1980s one of the mustang fan
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magazines tracked down stanley tucker and asked if he regretted letting go of serial number one and answered frankly, yes, yes, i do. but it worked out well for us. this is one of the cars, people come to henry ford museum of american innovation just to see the vehicle. fans treat it as a point of pilgrimage. where it all started. >> you can watch this and other american artifacts programs by visiting our website. coming up, a look at other car makers including the honda accord. to learn how cars evolved and why carmakers decided to make those changes. we're showing you american history tv programs while congress is on break this month. these are lectures, discussions and historic films normally seen
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only during the weekends here on c-span3. later, a look at some of the auto industry mavericks from world war ii to today. including elon musk. that's followed by the history of the american road up to the 1950s. and then, a tour through henry ford's home and the garage where the first ford car was built. if you missed any of today's program we'll show it again tonight at 8:00 eastern. and you can find it any time online at c-span's video library. thursday, american history tv continues with a look at the life of martin luther king jr. we'll show a 50th anniversary commemoration from march. and friday the world war i centennial ceremony and a look at various aspects of the war from discussions at u.s. army heritage days. this weekend, on american history tv, during the reel america, our weekly look at
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historical films, the 1943 war department fill l why we fight: divide & conquer." reel america saturday night at 10:00 and sunday afternoon at 4:00 eastern and saturday night at 11:00 eastern historian rachel lewandowski explains the trauma of world war i soldiers and the lessons psychiatrists learned at the time and sunday desegregation of the u.s. military. author ron james and retired colonel bradford led to what led to harry truman's executive order desegregating the american military and the impact on african-americans on american history tv every weekend here on c-span3. saturday morning at 10:30 eastern, book tv is live at the
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mississippi book festival for the fourth annual literary lawn party at the state capitol in jackson. with discussions on race and identity, southern history, u.s. politics and presidential leadership. authors include cheryl cashin. jack davis with his winning book "the gulf." speaking with former mississippi governor haley barber. the book is "the great revolt." and author frank williams with "lincoln as hero." join us live saturday beginning at 10:30 eastern for the mississippi book festival on c-span2. each week american artifacts takes you to museums and historic places to learn about american history. next went


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