Steve Moskowitz

Cars That Made America

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Kinda like "inspired by a true story" without the disclaimer.

 

ps my version of the horse joke involves growing plants but is decidedly not PC.

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It wasn't just the mistakes that I found upsetting; it was what they didn't say.  Henry Ford applied to pay the trust that held the Selden patent and they insulted him and he got POed.  That's when he said he will never give them a dime.

The true story is more interesting than what they presented.  Steve posted " we have in fact reached out to many major channels and offered them free research by our library. "  An organization that calls itself the History Channel

should do the research or change their name.

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If i were going to get so upset over a TV show I would consider just not watching.  True, it is not all that historically correct, they used the wrong cars, etc., etc. but ti is for entertainment first and foremost regardless of what channel it is on.  In the big scheme of life, this show is not worth getting upset over.

 

Bob

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Anytime a viewer watches anything involving a topic they know a lot about, they will be disappointed if they expect it to be accurate and enlightening. 

 

As mentioned, we are not the target audience.

 

That said, if it has an old car in it, I'm watching.

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First, I'm not in the least bit upset.  I'm a little disappointed and a little confused. Why are we not the target market?  Are we too smart?  Too knowledgeable?  Not brain dead enough?

 

History does not need to be changed to be made interesting.  An accurate portrayal of the early car industry would exciting all by itself... it doesn't need idiot looking actors staring into the camera with made up drama faces.   There seems to be some decent content in the program so my guess is that the editing/production process is to blame.  One would think that something shown on the History Channel would place more emphasis history instead of making up drama.  Real history is dramatic and learning is exciting.  

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As someone who really doesn't know anything about the history of the automobile, I can tell you that I enjoyed it very much. 

 

I was surprised that Ford was so ruthless, but was fascinated that all the players (Chevrolet, Dodge Brothers, Chrystler, etc. were all involved so early. Lots of details like I didn't know Edsel was Ford's son, for example I found interesting. Also my father grew up either in or near Dearborn Heights and my aunts and uncles live there, Sterling Heights, etc, so the history of that area was very interesting to me as well. 

 

I wouldn't know if the cars were not the right ages or other details, but I learned a lot and am very excited to see the rest. 

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Just take everything you "learned" with a grain of thought. Did expect them to at least get the period clothing right.

 

May be easier to understand that the early "majors" were all born between 1840 and 1880 when life and morals in the US were quite different. Further though the sequences were mixed, most of the action took place between 1905 and 1915 (though a number of photos and references were later & the Ford/Winton race was in 1901).

 

Does amuse me that the company Ford abandoned (leaving his investors with the stick) was bought by Henry Leland, became Cadillac, & brought mass production to a science with the use of interchangeable parts. Without that Ford's production line would not have worked. Of course the River Rouge plant was not planned until 1917 & finished in 1928 but that was not important. Nor was the fact (though maybe in part two) was that Edsel Ford had a big hand in the Model A, Mercury, and Lincoln.

 

ps target demographics are easy, just watch the commercials.

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Good to see they reused some cars from the Men That Made America or whatever that series was, MERCER Toy Tonneau and Steavens Duryea. Loved that '15 T with the red Dayton wire wheels. I'll let the automobile era incorrect deal slide, Joe Average is clueless and more than likely enjoyed the show. BIGGEST SCREWUP in the show? If you taped it replay it watch for the seen in a fancy restaurant, camera glides over fancy table setting, fine china and flatware, TWO forks on the right side of the plate. They didn't have to rent any automobiles to screw up that detail did they? Bob

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2 hours ago, bill pritchett said:

Terry,

I bet you have mixed feelings about breaking your leg to get to see this series.  Hope you heal soon.

Thanks Bill,  appreciate the thoughts.  The TV show was good entertainment and that was needed at the moment. This first week has required a lot of adjustment here, and some innovation as well, so the diversion was a pleasant one.  A cold beer would have been a bonus, but all things in time.

Terry

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2 hours ago, victorialynn2 said:

As someone who really doesn't know anything about the history of the automobile, I can tell you that I enjoyed it very much. 

 

I was surprised that Ford was so ruthless, but was fascinated that all the players (Chevrolet, Dodge Brothers, Chrystler, etc. were all involved so early. Lots of details like I didn't know Edsel was Ford's son, for example I found interesting. Also my father grew up either in or near Dearborn Heights and my aunts and uncles live there, Sterling Heights, etc, so the history of that area was very interesting to me as well. 

 

I wouldn't know if the cars were not the right ages or other details, but I learned a lot and am very excited to see the rest. 

 History of the automobile is a very involved and fascinating subject, even taught as college courses these days.   I was thinking about Hershey  and am looking for your announcement that you've decided to visit for a couple of days to meet some of the folks in person that you've met on theforums.  Next step is to get you to our Annual Meeting in Philadelphia in Feb so you can partake of some of the interesting seminars about automotive history.

 

Terry

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3 hours ago, victorialynn2 said:

 

I was surprised that Ford was so ruthless,

 

The show barely touched on the relentless toll the never stopping line took on the workers. My Dad worked for Ford on the assembly line  in Detroit during the 30's and the rein of Harry Bennett. He said if someone needed to use the bathroom the floor boss would need to find a fill in worker. If he couldn't find one he'd tell the guy "piss your pants" and he meant it. The floor boss could and would fire guys for any reason. My father swore he would NEVER buy a Ford car and never ever did.

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, Terry Bond said:

 History of the automobile is a very involved and fascinating subject, even taught as college courses these days.   I was thinking about Hershey  and am looking for your announcement that you've decided to visit for a couple of days to meet some of the folks in person that you've met on theforums.  Next step is to get you to our Annual Meeting in Philadelphia in Feb so you can partake of some of the interesting seminars about automotive history.

 

Terry

Terry, I doubt I will make it. I am not inclined to go alone and I have a hard time getting my friends to even go to car shows. They will go for a cruise in the '57, but don't share my interest in cars as a rule. I did join AACA a while back and love the magazine. It's too bad there isn't a bigger presence for the club in Texas or Oregon.

 

I really do exist though. I have met Jack M. LOL

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1 hour ago, Bhigdog said:

 

The show barely touched on the relentless toll the never stopping line took on the workers. My Dad worked for Ford on the assembly line  in Detroit during the 30's and the rein of Harry Bennett. He said if someone needed to use the bathroom the floor boss would need to find a fill in worker. If he couldn't find one he'd tell the guy "piss your pants" and he meant it. The floor boss could and would fire guys for any reason. My father swore he would NEVER buy a Ford car and never ever did.

Yikes. they at least did make much better than average pay, correct?

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Until the depression. Then wages were cut and  layoffs made them work harder. Any hint of a union sympathy and you fired on the spot or beaten.

Henry started out as a young genius and end up as a dictatorial despot. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely..........Bob

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)

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Some of the information on Buick & GM was off base.  The disappointing thing is that they had Larry Gustin as one of the commentators on the show.  I know Larry and he is probably one of the most knowledgeable if not the most knowledgeable people on early Buick & GM history, bar none.  He was with them and they did not fact check information with him.

 

I also thought that the show shortchanged Durant and his vision in building GM.  It was Ford, Chrysler, GM, not Durant at GM.

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Again, the show was entertaining and I was happy to watch it instead of the other garbage on TV.  Yes, I am accepting it for what it is but getting history wrong on a channel called itself HISTORY sort of galls me.  To little attention, in my opinion, was given to the other players in the early days of the automobile and inventions that changed the landscape like the electric starter which made it easier to put women behind the wheel. (please resist the jokes guys! :D)

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I agree Larry, but not only was Durant shortchanged, Buick or its founder was

hardly even mentioned. My wife kept asking when is Buick going to be mentioned and I explained to her that Buick like Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Oakland were Divisions of GM. But had no explanation for the total exclusion of Buick when they did call out and show images of the early GM divisions. 

Makes me wonder how misinformed I have been on all the other History Channel series. I mean was there really Thirteen Original Colonies or maybe for the sake of brevity the History Channel decides to not count Georgia. History is history, get it right History Channel! 

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I can understand bending facts to create entertainment and appeal to wider audiences, but missing facts that have no bearing on the production is in explicable.  As mentioned in another thread, saying Patton fought Pancho Villa instead of Pershing is a gross error.  Getting it correct doesn't affect the production quality, so....why??? 

 

Showing an incorrect model year car is one thing, but basic facts about some of the greatest generals in our history, that's silly.

 

 

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)
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Probably no more than we deserve. Have to remember that "History" like most cable TV companies (may have said Discovery before but is part of A&E group, need to research more) one of the ways they minimize production costs is through repetition and minimization of live action (narration of stills is one way). They also maximize stock footage and long shots (there is also History UK which may be where the locomotive shots came from). The result is that in an hour show there may be 10 minutes of live action, 10 minutes of stills, 30 minutes of repetition (particularly after commercials) musta seen the same dummy dance at least three times (with different narration though), and the rest commercials (and since they repeat the same commercials over and over a DVR is nice. Last night I started watching at 8:43 pm and finished at the same time as the show. (May notice that some commercials now put up a parental guidance block  since many fast forward until it appears.) Don't feel too guilty since I recognized every commercial just from the few seconds it was streaming past

 

So is really a fact of cable TV that in a two hour show there may be 15 or 20 minutes of content. So the "bit players" like Henry Leyland, David Dunbar, and Boss Kettering wind up on the cutting room floor. At least between pt1 and pt2 Edsel miraculously switched from downtrodden Beta to at least Alphaish & Clara became emancipated.

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I gave up on the "History" channel having any credibility when they began broadcasting programs featuring ghost hunters and investigations into haunted houses. Sadly I think we are slowly entering a new Dark Ages.

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Here's my two cents on the show. Now being involved in the Durant car world since 2002 and reading every book, publication I can find on Durant and General Motors, I also keep the "virtual museum" items for the Durant Motors Automobile Museum that I have access to.  Many old Motor magazines, advertising, articles etc.  I have read most of them and feel I have a pretty good knowledge of William C. Durant and his start with Buick, GM and his eventual running of Durant Motors.  I was contacted by the production company archivist in New York earlier in the year for information on Durant. I provided some photographs, and introduced them to our club historian who grew up in Flint and is very knowledgeable about Durant, far more than me.  I even pointed them to other persons and areas that they could get research material to and for them to interview individuals.  They failed and obviously choose to to allow un-familiar writers produce the script for this production.  More research should have been done to present the facts much better.  The show should be called "Ford Cars that Made America Great".   Right down to casting, Durant was a small man with a lot of drive.  He was a salesman and not an engineer, but he did manage to bring companies into production and make money.  He did fight the Seldon patent, not just Ford and the fact that Durant negotiated to buy Ford was correct.  But it was not on a bridge at the dead of night among the mist, it was in a New York hotel room while Ford was laying on his back on the floor because his back had gone out.  Durant offered Ford cash and some stock options at GM but Ford wanted only cash. Durant took it to the financiers, mainly J.P Morgan and DuPont  who still did not have confidence in the automobile industry and would not provide the capital for the purchase.  They also failed to mention that Durant, after he left GM and started Chevrolet purchased 51% of GM stock and then threatened a hostile take-over to make GM part of Chevrolet if they did not let him back in. He successfully ran GM again until 1921 when he had over-leveraged his person stock accounts and GM profits were down. It is true he was asked to leave again after the BOD bought out his personal debt, but within 48 hours raised six million dollars to start Durant Motors Inc.  Durant Motors produced several cars of their own and purchased Locomobile and was exported all over the world. 1931 Saw the end of Durant Motors, the depression got them, but Durant lived well in New York on a pension Sloan gave him from GM in the amount of $2,500 per month. Not a small some even in that time. When Durant died in 1947 his net worth was listed at around $750, but that was when he was in his 80's.

     I know that the show is entertainment and should be taken lightly, but I feel when these production companies do not portray true facts right down to authentic cars, costumes and venues they do an injustice to future generations.  Isn't that the same reason we insist at AACA that the cars be "as they left the factory"?  We want to make sure everyone and future generations learn what an "original" Ford, Chevy or Durant look like.  I get just as aggravated at shows like Mysteries at the Museum or other that show World War II uniforms for Civil War or Police uniforms that obviously look like they were made by a high school theatrical production.  Professional production people must think all of us out here in the public will take whatever they want to show us with fact or truth.  I have sent a letter to the Archivist I had contact with expressing my displeasure on the production.

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