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Henry Ford Museum scrapped some cars for the war in 1942?


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Was just reading a wiki article on Aloha Baker and it mentioned that the "Little Lizzie" Model T she drove around the world and donated to the Henry Ford Museum was scrapped along 50 other cars in 1942 for the war effort. A link to another article shows a letter written to Ms. Baker by the curator of the transportation collections of the museum in 1979 explaining that Mr Ford had ordered vehicles that he deemed of "marginal historical importance" to be transferred to the highland park plant and scrapped. Anybody ever heard of this? Hopefully Henry didn't scrap anything earlier than this car. 

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That particular museum has a long history if ridding itself of vehicles and artifacts that are well nigh irreplaceable.  The focus of the museum seems to be mercurial.  

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Posted (edited)

A great example of why I would NEVER leave anything valuable to a museum unless there was a clear, ironclad contract that provided for display and, should it be deemed redundant, it would be returned.  I have a lot of experience dealing with them in my everyday life and have found most (and there are exceptions) "museum professionals" far more interested in advancing their own agendas than in the artifacts.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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No education at all on this topic, but heres my 2c.  Its a shame a 'historically significant' car was sent to the scrap yard, however in this case it was for a scrap drive for the war effort.  I would imagine one of the richest people in the country, and also one perhaps getting richer with government war contracts, would look pretty silly/self absorbed, by not 'thinning' the collection of some 'old cars' that he had sitting around. During a time when the average working person had to scrimp and save, and scrap unused pots and pans! 

 

As far as donating a car to a museum, they will do what is best for their situation. If the car warrants sitting on display so be it, if it better benefits a more significant auto by being sold off for the revenue, just as well too. If one wants total control of their car then keep it in your garage and dont part with it. Otherwise what becomes with it is in the hands of the next owner.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, md murray said:

Mr Ford had ordered vehicles that he deemed of "marginal historical importance" to be transferred to the highland park plant and scrapped.

That fits Henry Ford I's MO.  He did odd things at Ford, like the time he went to inspect the progress of a building that was to be the power plant for the Ford engineering laboratory built in 1923 on Oakwood Blvd. in Dearborn, MI.  At the time they were laying the foundation for a massive chimney.  Ford asked- what the heck that was and the workmen explained what it was.  Ford asked why it was being built on the ground inside the plant and they explained chimneys, especially that chimney were quite heavy and required a good sturdy foundation which was always built on the ground.  Ford told them "Not around here they aren't, get that chimney on the roof!"  And so they did after building an iron pillar foundation which led to a platform the chimney was built on, on the roof...

 

My great grandfather took my grandfather to the building site of the Ford mansion under construction in St. Clair Shores, MI when my grandfather was a young lad.  Henry I happened to be there inspecting that job and came over and greeted and talked to my great grandfather.  After a bit he asked my grandfather if he had a set of toy blocks at home to which my grandfather said no.  Henry I pulled a carpenter off that job and had him saw up some blocks for my grandfather to take home...

Ford_Engineering_Laboratory_Powerhosue_(Designed_by_Albert_Kahn,_1920's).jpg

Edited by Str8-8-Dave
Add clarifying text/correct text (see edit history)
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Kerry’s point is well taken.  In 1941/42 there could have been legit concern that a lot more than a few cars would be getting melted down.   The benefit of hindsight says other things should have gone first.

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It was viewed as unpatriotic during the war not to contribute all possible metal scrap that would support the ultimate victory.  Vehicles of "marginal historical importance" as deemed by the curator, or in this case, Henry Ford himself, were expect to be given to the cause.   The greater tragedy is the loss of legions of aging, high-quality, low-production, defunct nameplates and those still current as well as one-off custom coach-built Classics deemed of little value other than the rare metals from which they were made.

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This is what I placed in our May-June Newsletter.

Mason-Dixon Sponsored car sold by Museum

An AACA Museum board official informed me that there would be a 1910 Model 10 Buick for auction at the Spring Carlisle event. After much computer fussing around to see the 1910 Buick as a consignment to the Spring Carlisle Auction, I finally found it. I did not even consider that it was our adoption car!  Saying that I was outraged is putting it mildly.... I had wondered why the museum sent out the video of the 1910 recently. Link below

https://t.e2ma.net/click/0dm1nc/09u9kef/09e1vjoutraged

 I know these car museums sometimes sell off some of their donations. Another outrage as I feel for those who donated expecting their cars to be on display for some time. I know that the museum has fiscal needs and must act as prudently as possible.

 I had a photo of this car when owned by the former owner on the wall of my classroom probably since 1998.

 I know that the 1910 Model 10 is my absolutely favorite car in the museum. We the Mason-Dixon have donated to its upkeep since 2012. I always looked forward to having it on display for our shows there.    

IMG_0561.JPG.0492f2e225c0eb24a7d7c290668230eb.JPG     DSCF6893.JPG.fb4ae855e6214810e74a69c4d4ced79f.JPG

Adoption Day July 2012                                              2018 Mason-Dixon car show at the AACA Museum.

 Whomever or which committee decided to dispose of this car is not on my favorites list. I say this because I could always count on visiting this car even though I could never afford to own it. So, I know I could not be a bidder. I felt that since we were a contributor to the care and upkeep of the vehicle we should have been notified of the Museum’s intentions.

  The board official checked and said that the 1910 is being replaced by another 1910 Buick recently donated. This somewhat dispersed my rage and rant…  If that is the case we shall see if we would like to continue our donations to the AACA Museum for support of the adoption program.

 Larry

 

 What was even more frustrating was that the supposed (1910 replacement) is a 1912 model 36 unrestored example (which I also am thrilled to see.) 20190729_121706.jpg.5a6e9e77fdab46e79959c18ffe17dfd3.jpg

The placard for this car describes it as a 1911 and the incorrect model.

 I still do not know what the 1910 sold for at the Carlisle auction. I know it went to a local restoration shop for some work and then to be "flipped".

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Posted (edited)

The woman who donated the car was still alive in 1942. The car should have been offered back to her first. If she wanted it scrapped that was her business. The scrap drives themselves were largely a publicity stunt to gin up the "home front." Scrap contributed an infinitesimal amount to wartime production although I assume that wasn't well known at the time. Ford was certainly a brilliant industrialist but otherwise he was arrogant and ignorant.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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Re the 1910 Buick.  We were contracted to haul the car from the museum  to our shop, change the tires and get.it running, which we did. The Buick is now in the hands of a flipper in Md.

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Cars make poor static displays - or better said, static display is poor for cars. They are complicated machines that need to be worked in order to stay even remotely functional. Probably 99% of the time they will be better cared for in the hands of an enthusiast than by a museum where it might be VERY uncommon to find anyone who really knows anything about them beyond what they look like. This is one reason why I much prefer to see the really significant cars in big private collections. When someone is spending their own money they are more likely to see the job done correctly. That doesn't mean all car museums do a poor job  or that all private collectors take good care of their charges, but overall I don't think museums have a good record. One need only go back an re-read the various posts on "museum cars" on this site to get a fair notion of the way they are "preserved."

 

 

 

 

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All too often, Henry Ford is judged by his actions and attitudes of the last fifteen or twenty years of his life. At the time of the scrap drives, he had already been showing signs of dementia for half a decade. He had the money, and the power. but not the wherewithal mentally that he had had when he built the Highland Park factory.

The scrap drives did accomplish more for home-front moral than they did for the actual overseas war effort. And it certainly is a sad reality that way too much historically significant stuff went into those scrap drives. The same can be said about 'environmental' cleanup in recent decades. However, the WW2 scrap drives did help the county's moral a lot, and who can say for certain how much of a difference that "I am doing my part" moral boost really made?

Really sad that the Wanderwell car was a victim of that.

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The US government took Henry Ford ll out of the Navy in 1943 and sent him to Detroit because Henry Senior was showing such signs of deteriorating health that it alarmed armed forces experts, who depended on the Ford company for much war material. Henry II was expected to take over, and improve efficiency and production. Henry Senior died just 4 years later, in 1947. Before Henry II took over the company was in effect being run by a man named Bennett, an ex bruiser originally hired as a body guard during a kidnapping scare in the early thirties who knew nothing about running a business. So it is not surprising that Henry Senior was showing signs of failing powers in the early forties.

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10 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

Re the 1910 Buick.  We were contracted to haul the car from the museum  to our shop, change the tires and get.it running, which we did. The Buick is now in the hands of a flipper in Md.

Restorer:

 Thanks for the update. As others also stated I would much rather see the car on the road again with an appreciative owner. But as long as we were paying the freight on its upkeep it was good to see at the museum. When we would request it to be present at our car show it was supposed to be in running order. That morning of the show one of the museum personnel attempted to start it and we did have it running but it quit climbing the hill behind the museum. Had to have a 4 wheeler tow.

 Another Mason Dixon member and I were asked to work on sorting the partially restored 1926 Buick Brougham the museum had donated to it. Well Covid came along and that took care of that.

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22 hours ago, wayne sheldon said:

The scrap drives did accomplish more for home-front moral than they did for the actual overseas war effort

  This is probably true, but what is more important in wartime than moral ? I can remember pulling my wagon full of scrap or paper to the train yard in the small town I lived in and the pile of scrap sometimes was mountainous. ( at least to a small boy)

  I can remember that I felt good that maybe I was helping two older brothers who were overseas.

   I had to eat honey on my breakfast cereal because we had limited sugar, but that was ok, the soldiers needed it.

 

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There is a big difference between a curator and a hobbyist. Even today, a hobbyist should be very careful when they decide to pass items on to an organization thinking they will be enjoyed by future generations.

 

It ain't what you think.

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99 percent of car museum donations are going to be turned into capital so the overpaid do nothing drones running the place can get a bigger paycheck. This does not apply to ALL museums, just 99 percent.

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