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Old Car Festival, Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Mi

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Labour Day weekend is nearly over with just a BBQ to go and now is the time to plan a trip to the Old Car Festival (OCF).  Not as prestigious as Pebble Beach, the OCF does not have an auction and not as early as the London to Brighton Run in England, 1928, the OCF is not to be missed for believers of the 1933 and earlier cars and without hot rods.  Since it is a festival over 800 vehicles will be cruising, playing car games, visiting with historians, dancing in the street with a live orchestra, a gas lamp parade in the evening and visiting friends.


Below are some general photos from recent OCFs.  Rolls Royce, Doble steam car playing up, 1929 Chevrolet with a limousine type body, The Henry Ford's own Sweepstakes race car, young lass piloting a Columbus electric, Same Day Response and a mom and daughter in a Hupp are mine, feel free to add your photos of the event.  Gary







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There is an interesting blog on the model t ford forums from a man ( Jeff ) driving alone in a 1915 Ford from Kansas to attend the OCF.  He left home Aug 29th to be in Dearborn by Sept. 5th, stopped by a friends for an oil change and made other roadside repairs.  Many photos of rural America.

Ron; last year I think you had 2 Kissel Kars on the Green?

In the photos are my car with some OCF regalia, a Lansing to Dearborn pennant and a decal from Henry Ford which dates back to the 60's.  I first saw this Buick, which I later bought and take care of, at the OCF in the early 90's.   My wife says this is her favourite car event and if we just went to 1 thing it would be the OCF.


Regards, Gary




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And also admire plain ole' affordable cars of the day in their originality and in a setting similar to the day they were made. It is at the top of my list of events to attend since you get to see and hear most of the vehicles driving around vs a static car show, which to me is like going to an open roof museum.


I am looking at this event a bit differently this year though. The Old Car Festival celebrates the changing of the transportation industry (1890s-1932) from horses, trains and streetcars to an entirely new innovation.  Everything about it was new!  Prior to the automobile, the only real form of transportation, with personal ownership, was the horse and most city dwellers didn't own one.  Anything with an engine (steam) or motor was part of a mass transit system. So with the automobile came a totally new ownership model for the masses. With that came new laws, liability and insurance.


What about the type of propulsion?  There were those that liked the familiar and reliable steam engines, but many companies went electric at first. Then came along the internal combustion engine (ICE), aka the internal explosion engine from its detractors. A lot of people feared gas engines and hauling around a tank full of liquid explosives.  As the ICE engines proved themselves, fears disappeared and it became the propulsion system of choice.  Also, consider how you controlled these new vehicles - no more pulling on the reins, so how would you control these cars?  There were no standards....tiller vs steering wheel...foot pedals vs clutch/shifter.....throttle pedal vs throttle lever vs valves (steam).  Then 4 wheel brakes....another controversial issue in the engineering community of the 1920s - brakes up front were dangerous if they locked up or weren't balanced. A little later finally brought in some basic styling cues. This festival celebrates an era of total invention and has a lot of parallels to today.


By the mid/late 1930s much had been standardized and moving forward was more about refinement - all the way to today.  Sure, there was new technology and invention like automatic transmissions, a/c, new electronics, etc., but today we are on the edge of the next transportation revolution where the ownership model is again changing with companies like Maven, Uber and Lyft, where you no longer own your vehicles.  The propulsion technology is also changing with more battery electrics, eventual fuel cells, etc. Semi-autonomous and Autonomous vehicles will totally change the industry requiring new laws, new insurance and liability models.  I was just thinking about how the distracted driving laws may have to take into account the particular vehicle you drive. 


So the point is, this year, rather than just admiring all the beautiful old cars, I am trying to put myself in the mindset of the innovation and fears of the early 20th century and apply that to the changes happening in today's industry. There are so many parallels whether it's the ownership model, fears of new technology, liability, laws, types of controls, etc.


Oh, and that's me with my hands on my hips looking over my co-worker and his brother firing up his 1923 Stanley in the original post - thanks for the picture.



Edited by Stude Light (see edit history)
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