Cars, Trucks & Other Vehicles

Ford’s Model T

This article was published in Michigan History Magazine in 2005 and shared by the Archives of Michigan. This Tuesday, July 30th, is the 150th birthday of Michigan’s most influential figure, Henry Ford. The photo with the article seems to have vanished, but we have replaced it with an incredible shot by Lou Peeples. Be sure to click the photo to see it bigger!

title=“I will build a motor car for the great multitude,” Henry Ford announced. “It will be so low in price,” he added, “that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one.” With these words Henry Ford introduced the world to the Model T. It was October 1908 and, when the Ford Motor Company quit making the Model T nineteen years later, it had become one of the world’s most popular cars.

The Model T (there were models A through S) carried a 4-cylinder motor, and traveled up to 45 miles per hour. It came in one color, black.

The Model T also introduced drivers to new mechanical improvements. In a Model T, the driver controlled the car with three floor pedals: a brake and a pedal for forward and one for reverse. This left the driver’s hands free to steer the car. Unlike most cars of the time, the steering wheel was on the left side of the car.

The Model T was popular because it was cheap (eventually less than $300) and easy to fix. All a driver needed were pliers and a screwdriver to keep it running. Spare parts were easily available, and the Model T never seemed to wear out.

Americans loved the Model T. A woman from Georgia wrote Henry Ford, “Your car … brought joy into our lives.” The Model T even developed international fame. As one newspaper noted, “The Ford Motor Company has beaten out both the [U.S.] flag and the Constitution in carrying civilization into the wild places of the world.”

In 1927 the Ford Motor Company stopped making Model Ts; it had produced 15,007,033 cars. In the 1970s, Germany’s Volkswagen Beetle finally surpassed the Model T in numbers made.

As the Ford Motor Company likes to say to this day, the Model T “put America on wheels.” How true.

PHOTO: Model T circa 1922 by Lou Peeples

NAIAS 2013

NAIAS 2013

via Michigan in Pictures…

Snapshots from the 2013 North American International Auto Show aka NAIAS 2013 aka the Detroit Auto Show started yesterday for media & industry. The public show runs Saturday, January 19 through Saturday, January 26. Here are a few quick hits:

Get more NAIAS on Michigan in Pictures!

Have you been to Winter Driving School?

“The single biggest thing I can tell anybody is to slow down.”
~Instructor Mark Osborne

I-96 Westbound Closed by p912s (Scot)
I-96 Westbound Closed by p912s (Scot)

Wintertime driving can be challenging, and even deadly. It makes a lot  of sense for Michiganders to spend a some time and thought on staying safe behind the wheel in wintertime. The Keweenaw Research Center Winter Driving School at Michigan Tech offers drivers the tools to succeed. You don’t have to make the trip to Houghton to benefit from their knowledge, however.

Their handy Winter Driving guide details some of the proper vehicle maintenance that can help you to focus on driving, not mechanical problems, which can become a lot significant in the winter. Here’s a few solid tips – many more if you click the link!

March Michigan Event Calendar

Our monthly calendar contains a selection of what’s cool to do in Michigan. If you have an event to share, please POST IT IN THE COMMENTS. We read them all and might add yours, but if you email us, we simply can’t add the event!

If your event is ticketed and you would like to give tickets away to promote it, please go to this page!

Approaching Spring by mayerdavid1978

Our Michigan event calendar for the month of March features all kinds of signs that spring is just around the corner with some cautious reminders that objects around the corner may be further off than they appear.


“March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes
and a laugh in her voice.” – Hal Borland

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” – Charles Dickens

“Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.” – Lewis Grizzard

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.” – Doug Larson

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, Let’s party!” – Robin Williams

Fast Facts

March’s birthstone is Aquamarine and Bloodstone. They symbolize courage.

Its birth flower is the Narcissus.

March in the Southern Hemisphere is the seasonal equivalent of September in the Northern Hemisphere.

Daylight-Savings time occurs on March 13, 2010, at 2:00 AM – time to spring ahead!

Think spring! The vernal equinox occurs on March 20, 2011, at 11:21  PM EDT.

Michigan International Auto Show in Grand Rapids – January 26-29, 2012

Michigan turns 175 Thursday and Absolute Michigan is giving away a whole bunch of prizes to people on our email list to celebrate! One of the items is 2 tickets to the Auto Show – you can sign up for our list at the bottom of this article.

Smile by pairadocs
Smile by pairadocs

The Michigan International Auto Show returns to DeVos Place January 26-29, 2012 with manufacturers from around the world setting up their finest traveling displays. The show is West Michigan’s largest consumer show and offers you a chance to view your next new car with some 300 new vehicles on display. From sedans to vans, SUVs & trucks to hybrids and sports cars. If it rolls on 4 wheels, chances are you’ll see it at the factory representatives from nearly 40 different manufacturers.

“This year, visitors will find vehicles displaying increases in innovations and design, as well as energy efficiency models as the auto industry rises to the challenges placed before it,” says Terry Burns, Executive Director of the Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association. “New models, new designs and new technologies are helping our industry bring itself back up along a path of recovery as we move into 2012 and beyond.”

A highlight of the show is the Million Dollar Motorway, which is expected to be bigger and better than ever before featuring a variety of high end cars including Bentley, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Maserati and Lamborghini, each valued at more than $100,000. There are also exhibits from the Gilmore Car Museum that offer you a chance to take a trip back in automobile history.

Here’s a video from last year’s show to give you an idea of what to expect.

Absolute Michigan is committed to helping our readers get more out of Michigan. To that end, we are adding an exciting new program featuring giveaways of products and services from all kinds of Michigan businesses. It's free, fun and all you have to do to be eligible is to be on our email list - sign up using the form below. We guarantee that we will not share your email address with anyone!
If your business is interested in participating, you can get all the information right here.


2012 North American International Auto Show

The 2012 North American International Auto Show aka the Detroit Auto Show runs January 14-22, 2012 at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan.

2013 Dodge Dart by ChriKett Photography
2013 Dodge Dart by ChriKett Photography

The first Detroit Area Dealer Association (DADA)-managed Detroit Auto Show was held in December 1907 at Riverview Park. In 1987, the show was re-focused as an international event, and 2012 is their 24th annual under the new format. The center of the event are concept cars and exhibitions by car companies from Acura to Volvo and of course Detroit standards like Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC and Lincoln.

Blogs & Social Media from the Detroit Auto Show

Our favorite for coverage this year is mLive’s Detroit Auto Show coverage. They have a look at Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s visit to the show, some concept car highlights from the 2012 floor and the back and forth between Governor Snyder and a Wayne State student. After Snyder issued a call for grads to stay in Michigan, biomed engineering student Ramkumar Annamalai  asked him why if eduction was so important has Michigan seen cuts that remove a lot of what attracts top students.  It’s an interesting exchange that highlights one of the real challenges manufacturing and research in Michigan are facing. You can also get comprehensive reporting from the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.

As usual, you can find unabashed car love with a healthy dose of humor from the  2012 Detroit Auto Show on Jalopnik.  Over at Autoblog they feature podcasts and articles including their Editor’s top 5 picks from the show (spoiler: #1 is the 2013 Ford Fusion which also captured Autoweek Magazine’s coveted Best of Show award). Another source that’s getting more and more relevant is  Autoblog Green who has features on the frighteningly cute Tata, a sub-$19k Prius and the Smart-for-Us urban concept mini-truck pictured right. Pretty much everyone with a blog is covering it of course, from Motor Trend to Popular Mechanics.

The North American International Auto Show has gotten into the social media swing in 2012 with a Facebook page their NAIAS official Twitter. You can also of course dive right in to #NAIAS on Twitter.

Attending the North American International Auto Show

The NAIAS web site has everything you need to know about attending the public show and tomorrow night’s black tie charity preview. If you do attend and take pictures or video, we’d love it if you’d share them with us in the Absolute Michigan Flickr group or shoot us the link to YouTube vids!

Detroit Auto Show Photos

Plymouth Fury!The NAIAS has a nifty virtual show floor.  Christian Kettenbell took the photo at the top and he has a really nice slideshow from 2012. You can see a whole lot more by checking Detroit Auto Show and/or NAIAS on Flickr. The blogs & papers above are another great source of photos of production cars and concepts as well.    If you’d like to step back in time, check out this Detroit News Rearview Mirror feature The Detroit Auto Show: from beer gardens to tabernacles to Cobo Center.

Anything else to add or ask? Post it in the comments!

Detroit Auto Show Videos

You can watch the snarky, kind of slow and frankly down on the auto show 2012 North American International Auto Show Preview from Drive and the un-snarky and faster paced preview from Autoweek TV. Our favorite, however, is this selection of highlights from the Media Preview on the 2012 show floor by Global News ENG Cameraman Ben Jonah. Got other ones you like? Add them in the comments below!

  • A family with a Rickenbacker car
    Permalink Gallery

    Seeking Michigan: Eddie Rickenbacker and the Rickenbacker Motor Company

Seeking Michigan: Eddie Rickenbacker and the Rickenbacker Motor Company

Seeking MichiganSteve Ostrander, Michigan Historical Museum and courtesy Seeking Michigan and the Archives of Michigan. The goal of Seeking Michigan is simple: to connect you to the stories of this great state. Visit them regularly for a dynamic & evolving look at Michigan’s cultural heritage and see more stories from Seeking Michigan at Absolute Michigan.
Eddie Rickenbacker

Eddie Rickenbacker, circa 1919. Photo from the National Archives and Records Administration holdings (ARC identifier 533720). Digital copy found on

Ace of Aces

After shooting down twenty-two enemy aircraft and four barrage balloons in less than a year, Captain Edward “Eddie” Rickenbacker became the most celebrated Allied airman of World War I, earning him the title “Ace of Aces.” He received the Congressional Medal of Honor, the French Legion of Honor, the Croix de Guerre, the Distinguished Service Cross and seven other medals.

At the close of the war, Rickenbacker returned home to a hero’s welcome of ticker-tape parades and other events in his honor. He retreated to the seclusion of the New Mexican desert to contemplate his future. He had been a race car driver before the war, and automobiles again filled his mind. He decided to build a car bearing his name.

Blogs We Dig: 365 Days of A

model a and cherry orchardThrough the TC Ticker, we learned about a cool project by Jonathan Klinger, PR Manager of Michigan based Hagerty Insurance. They begin:

For the past eight months, the 29 year old has been driving a 1930 Model A as his everyday car. His project, dubbed “365 Days of A,” has him parking his Ford Explorer and Honda Accord and, for one year – with no exceptions for weather or distance – driving the beautiful blue Model A instead.

“It’s something I wanted to do for a few years,” says Klinger, who owns a 1919 Model T and ‘a few other cars.’ “I wanted to show that an old car like this can be driven every day.”

spark advance leverHead over to 365 Days of A to follow Jonathan through the ins (learning to slow down) and outs (fixing what goes wrong) and saga of his Model A experiment from Day 1 (October 13, 2010) to Day 252 (and beyond). Be sure to check out the FAQs for the who, what and where.

The video below looks at how they got the A into shape, and you can see a lot more on their 365 Days of A playlist!

5×5 Night in Grand Rapids

5 ideas, 5 minutes each, 5 slides each, 5 judges, 5,000 dollars

5×5 Night is a monthly event in Grand Rapids that allows 5 people to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges who decide how to award $5,000 on the last Tuesday night of every month. The third 5×5 happens tomorrow night at the Grand Rapids Ballet with an afterglow at Founders Brewery. Tomorrow night’s presenters and topics sound pretty interesting:

  • Bruce Burgess – Mull-it-Over
  • Mick Hanna – Easy Crutch
  • Phil Lund – The Mars Plan
  • William Stewart – Compression Beehive Frame
  • Charlie Wollborg – Face-to-Face > Pixel-to-Pixel

Michigan Radio has a cool interview with Rick DeVos and Bill Holsinger Robinson of Pomegranate Studios about 5×5 Night. Learn more at and Pomegranate Studios.

Last month AJ Paschka got all five votes and $5000 for his very cool Weather Collage idea, but we’ll feature Landon Bartley’s more locally focused call for a Grand Rapids Sister City Window Webcam Project. You can check out all the pitches on the 5×5 channel.

Photo: Prepping for the first 5×5 Night at the GRAM by

Jeff Daniels to star in Chrysler Emigrated from Escanaba commercials

Fresh on the heels of the runaway success of their “Imported from Detroit” campaign starring rapper Eminem, Michigan-based Chrysler announced their new U-series heavy trucks will be promoted by Michigan actor Jeff Daniels in the “Emigrated from Escanaba” campaign.

Chrysler spokeswoman Anita Thawte explained “Mr.  Daniels has starred in numerous Hollywood films and is well known in promoting an Upper Peninsula lifestyle that meshes so well with the power and payload of the U-series.”

The specs of the vehicle are indeed impressive:  a massive 177 sq. ft. hood that can hold 7 deer, a gigantic bed that is rated for 4 tons of pasties and a powerful and eco-friendly V14 diesel that can operate in zero-emission mode when burning maple syrup.

Chrysler is reportedly exploring other concepts including “Smuggled from Saginaw”, “Got a Ride from Grand Rapids” and “Walked over from Washtenaw”.

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