Fun for the Whole Family, Fords Celebration Had Something for Everyone

DEARBORN (Mich.)–Day one of Ford Motor Co.s centennial celebration was soggy, thanks to steady rain all day, but that didnt dampen the spirits of those arriving to see a parade of Model Ts or their favorite NASCAR champions on the grounds of the “Glass House.” As very few say you only turn 100 once.

Over a period of five days, from June 12-16, 152 acres surrounding the Henry Ford II World Center–also known as Ford World Headquarters or the Glass House–has been transformed into an entertainment venue complete with Ford race car drivers Ricky Rudd, Dale Jarrett, and Mark Martin signing autographs Thursday, who would go on the next day to start their qualifying runs for a NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway.

Also on hand were displays of classic Ford cars from the 1920s on up to modern concept cars, such as the stylish Lincoln Navicross and Ford Mustang GT.

The day included special media tours of the yet to be completed Dearborn Truck Plant at the Rouge Center, where the new F-150 pickup truck will be built next year; to Ford Motor Chairman Bill Ford Jr. making the rounds with visitors; and the arrival of a caravan of Model Ts, some of which started out on the west coast.

“This has been a fun experience, all on backroads into small towns, to see all the real nice people,” said John Cranford, who was dressed up along with his wife Lois in “dusters” to keep their clothing clean while on the road. “It makes you realize how great the country is.”

The Cranfords bought a 1927 Model T Ford Roadster several years ago and restored it for the 1998 Model T tour of Europe, which including stops in France, Holland and Germany. Theyve also taken their “T” on a trip from California to Alaska. Their current 19 day journey had only one major mishap, a broken rear axle and wheel which took seven hours to repair.

“There were two or three cars in our group that had blown engines and they had to be repaired overnight,” Cranford said, adding that the caravan was paced by three trailer trucks, ready to assist the Model T motorists that broke down.

While they enjoyed their trip out, the Cranfords will send their Tin Lizzie back on a trailer and fly home instead of retracing their 2,850 mile trip–a distance that they knew precisely because they had a portable GPS unit on hand, a piece of equipment that hardly could have been conceived some 70 years ago.

Of course, some of the Model T caravan participants faced a different problem once they were on the grounds of the Glass House. The fleet of Ford minivans that were supposed to shuttle them to their hotels didnt have their keys readily available, forcing the motorists to wait longer in the rain.