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Episode Transcript

(Narrator)>> Today on Detroit Muscle we head to the Henry Ford Museum to turn back time and see where the automotive world got its start. We'll take you on a journey through the automotive timeline to see what innovations and breakthroughs led us to the muscle machines we have today.

(Marc)>> Hey everybody welcome to Detroit Muscle. We're really excited to show you what we have in store today. We are at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Now I know what you're thinking. Marc's a big blue oval fan and he wants to show you these Ford GT's that won at Le Mans but there's a whole lot more under this roof than just that.

(Tommy)>> Yeah there's other forms of transportation. There's items that are historical and pieces that have changed the way we live our lives.

(Marc)>> Let's check it out.

(Tommy)>> Sure.

(Matt)>> Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation was founded in 1929 by Henry Ford as kind of a tribute to his friend and mentor Thomas Edison. In fact our formal name is still the Edison Institute, and Henry Ford wanted a museum that didn't talk about the great political leaders, or the great military leaders, or battles. He wanted a museum that celebrated everyday people and everyday life. So he developed this organization to document innovators who came from daily life and the way that they used these tools, improved tools to improve life in the United States. Of course a lot of people think of us as a car museum, and we do have a fantastic automobile collection, but it's much more than that. We've got airplanes. We've got locomotives and passenger cars. We've got furniture, decorative arts, items related to social justice. We've got the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. So some really powerful iconic artifacts from American history with all of those cars as well.

(Tommy)>> And the automobile is why we're here. We wanted to see how our past would help shape the future of the auto industry.

(Matt)>> We're standing in the heart of our Driving America exhibit here at Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and this is our signature presentation on automobile history in the US. I'd like to think we're a little different from other car museums in that we're fairly broad. We don't go super deep into one make or model with the exception of Ford for obvious reasons, but we've got a breathe in the collection and a great chronological span too. We've got our oldest vehicles right up here from 1865, and we've got that right on up into 2015-2016. So it really covers a lot of ground, but it's not an exhibit so much about the automobile industry from the inside, which is to say the titans of the industry, the workers. It's more about everyday people and how we interact with cars in our daily lives. So we really get to explore the larger social impact of the automobile in the US.

(Marc)>> It all started with an innovation that Henry Ford was working on. You could say a more efficient way to get from point A to point B.

(Matt)>> We're looking at the 1896 Quadracycle, which was built by Henry Ford in the shed behind his home on Bagley Avenue in Detroit, and this is the first automobile built by Henry Ford. It's where Ford Motor Company begins and in a sense it's where all of this begins. And you know it's really special to have this car because there are few prototype vehicles from the late 19th century anywhere, and then to have the one built by Henry Ford is really special. But he put it together. Never really had any intention of selling it. This was just a way to kind of wrap his mind around what it took to build a functional automobile. So he built it, drove it for several months. He had some problems with it, one of which he could never quite get the cooling worked out. He experimented with different water tanks, different cooling systems, but a little two cylinder engine there in the back. I get a lot of people who ask me if those are taillights. You see what look like little light bulbs up above the cylinders. Those are oilers. So he'd fill it up with oil and the oil just drips right onto the piston as it passes back and forth. You see the chain drive and then the leather belts, which theoretically give you two speeds moving forward in the vehicle. The one thing you don't see on it, there's no brake, but you're probably going 10, 15 miles an hour at most. So Ford would've either drug his foot along the ground or maybe against the tire to slow it down. Steered by a tiller and there's a button in the middle of the tiller which powers and electric doorbell up front. So you push that and you can ring the bell to kind of warn people you're coming through, but cool little car. We've got a working replica out in Greenfield Village we bring out a couple of times a year, and it's a lot of fun to drive.

(Marc)>> Henry Ford figured out the recipe to get cars in the hands of the working class. It needed to be big enough but also reliable and cheap enough to buy, and he accomplished that with the Model-T.

(Matt)>> Henry Ford was different from a lot of his competitors in that from the very beginning he had this vision, not of building fancy expensive cars that he could make a lot of profit on each car he sold but on building a reliable but affordable car that just about anyone could afford. And then instead of making his profits on each car make them on the volumes that he could sell. I think he realized a lot earlier than some of his competitors that there was a mass market for the automobile. You know in 1904, 1905 people think cars are play things for the rich and there'll never be anything more than that, but Ford thinks no, no, I think there's a greater market for this, and the Model-T is his realization of that vision. It takes him a few years to get there. It takes him a few models to get there but when he hits the "T" he's built what's not only a fairly affordable car. It would have been about $800 dollars when introduced, which sounds cheap today. Though at that time the average American is probably making $500, $600 dollars a year. So it's still a lot of money but the price falls pretty quickly as he improves his production process for the Model-T, but it's also a quality car. It's got a steel frame. It's not a wood frame any more. It's got some features that you wouldn't expect on a car priced at that level, and it's fairly easy to drive. Today compared to modern cars it fells kinda complicated but by the standards of 1908 fairly simple, but the Model-T isn't quite born fully formed. There's some more changes that come along the way, and a lot of those have to do with how it's built. Ford's originally like everyone else on a staged assembly process where you've got a small team of people who build a car basically from the ground up, but he starts by about 1913 or so integrating the moving assembly line where you have the work come to the worker. So the parts slide down the line. Somebody puts a screw on, or puts a part on, whatever it might be, and then you end up with a finished car at the end of the line. And that was a tremendous breakthrough. It goes from 12, 12.5 hours to build a single car to 90 minutes. So that increases Ford's production and the Model-T is now selling than he could ever have imagined, and he keeps turning these cars out. By say 1918, 1919 half the cars in the United States are Ford Model-T's, and he's turning out two million of these vehicles a year. So the Model-T is the car that did what could only be done once, and that was turn the car from a luxury to an everyday necessity. So it really is the land mark vehicle in American automotive history.

(Tommy)>> We've shown you a lot of engines, transmissions, and axles that Powertrain Products offers for your daily driver or hot rod, but there's a reason we turned to those guys for remanufactured components. Take this two point four liter GM Ecotec for example. Not only is it remanufactured to the highest standards, but they take time to repair the normal faults like a reengineered cam shaft actuator and an updated cam shaft phaser already installed. It even comes with an upgraded oil pump, new timing components, and seven years of warranty coverage is available.

(Narrator)>> Don't go away. We take a look at post war car designs that led to the hot rod era.

(Marc)>> Just as our country began to recover from the Great Depression World War II started. That means all manufacturing efforts went toward the war effort, including things like this Jeep back here, but not only that artillery, guns, planes, and anything else they needed. But after the war ended the automotive industry was revolutionized all over again with this car right here.

(Matt)>> After the war of course you've got this incredible pent up demand for new cars. You've some people who probably haven't bought a new car since before the crash in 1929. So the big three can't build cars faster than they can sell them, and they look to kind of differentiate themselves from each other with new styling. We see some real changes in those post war cars. Ford's the first of the big three to introduce an all-new car after World War II and that '49 Ford is still thought of as a classic, a real landmark in Ford's vehicle history. It's a beautiful vehicle. It's got what we would call an envelope body. So it doesn't have the separate fenders out over the wheels. It's all integrated along the side, which we take for granted today cause pretty much every car looks like that, but at the time that was pretty innovative. It's also got one of my favorite features is that little spinner in the front center of the grille, and people look at it now and think it's kind of bizarre. It's supposed to look like an airplane propeller, the hub of a propeller, and it's maybe one of the first examples of aviation influencing automobile design. And of course that'll be big big theme in the 1950's.

(Tommy)>> Another thing that happened is you had a lot of guys coming back from the war with a skill set that they developed while in service, and a little bit of a wild streak. You mix that with an automobile and you know what you get, a hot rod.

(Matt)>> The '32 Ford is really the quintessential hot rod. I mean even today we think about movies like American Graffiti. There's always a '32 Ford. The Beach Boys little deuce coupe, and that car just hit the sweet spot in terms of the styling, the look, the design, and of course the power. The idea behind that Ford V-eight too I think is kind of special and part of the mystical nature if you will of those '32 cars, but it's also a real transition point in auto design. You're really going from that horse drawn carriage look or horse's carriage look that cars had really into the early '30's. Finally starting to see some more curves, some more lines, some more flow in the body design, and '32 is one of the first to really exhibit that. So it's got a special place and I think it always will.

(Marc)>> But the big three weren't the only ones revolutionizing the automotive industry. Some others threw their name into the ring. Does the name Tucker ring a bell?

(Matt)>> We are fortunate to have Tucker number 16 in our collection, which so far as we can tell is the most original of the surviving Tuckers. I think there are 48 of the 50 that are still around but ours is pretty much is entirely untouched from the time it was built. That car represents a real special time in the US industry, and Preston Tucker is maybe the most flashy if you will of all those guys who tried to get into the auto industry after World War II, and the Tucker 48 looked unlike anything else on the road with that third center headlight, that kind of proto fastback styling, the doors that cut into the roof, the engine in the rear which was pretty far out there for that time, and you have to wonder what could have happened if he would have made a go of it. Would he really have done some special things for the auto industry?

(Marc)>> We've shown you a lot of stuff from the folks over at MyChanic like the pod light, the tool creeper, and their stools like the Sidekick that I'm sitting on. This is their top of the line model that even has an adjustable height seat, and it has this tool caddy here which is really cool. It lets you take your tools with you including your phone. They also have a simpler fastback shop stool with a socket organizer and a detailing rig with a bucket and grit trap. And the best part, they're actually more affordable than you think with this Sidekick being the most expensive at under $110 bucks.

(Narrator)>> Coming up, how an early race car led us to modern day Nascar.

(Marc)>> By the mid '50's automakers were cranking out high performance cars right out of the factory, like this 1956 Chrysler 300-B. It's got a Hemi under the hood and it was actually dyno tuned for competition. One of the first cars ever to have that done. Other than that it's pretty much stock save for a few safety features. This was the beginning of stock car racing and that is what led to modern day Nascar.

(Matt)>> The Chrysler 300's a real landmark car. They sometimes call it the banker's hot rod. It's a high end car but it's a performance vehicle. You could argue it's one of the first muscle cars if you wanted. It's maybe the first American car to hit that kinda holy grail 356 cubic inch, 357 horsepower. So you've got one horsepower for each cubic inch. The car we've got was driven by Carl Kiekhaefer, by his team in the Nascar season in '55-'56 when they totally dominated and Kiekhaefer is one of these guys that doesn't maybe get the attention he deserves today. He's kinda forgotten but he's the first guy to professionalize Nascar racing. We're fortunate to have that '56 Chrysler 300 in our collection that was driven by Buck Baker and Tim Flock, others who drove for Kiekhaefer. So a real special car and kind of amazing when you look in there because it is a stock car. I mean that's just a 300 you could have gotten off the dealer lot. Pull out the back seat and maybe make a few other modifications but now much more to it than that. Stock car racing's gotten far more sophisticated I think in the 30 years or so that go from the 1950's up into the 1980's and even beyond. You look at that Kiekhaefer car and there's a big billboard on it but it's for Kiekhaefer's Outboard Engines. He owned Mercury engines, the outboard boat motors but that's it. You look at the Bill Elliott car and now you've got a real mix of sponsors but it's interesting that most of them are either automobile related product. You know motor oil, gasoline, that kind of things, or they're things you could buy at the track, whether it's a brand of beer, or soft drinks, or some kind of food, whatever it is, and that's starts to change in the 1990's when you know see cars that are advertising laundry detergent or the they're advertising breakfast cereal, kids toys. Again it speaks to the kind of popularity of Nascar and how that grew, and now you've got not just motorheads or gearheads who are watching but it's family entertainment.

(Marc)>> Undercoating is a great way to protect the underside of your vehicle, like wheel wells, frames, welds, and floor pans, but when you get that stuff in a can it's usually messy. Well now there's a better solution. This is Dupli-color's premium undercoating. It provides a protective paintable rubberized finish. Its high output delivery system with ergonomic trigger allows more product to be released without your finger getting tired. It also gives you better control. So it provides a more uniform finish and you only spray the intended areas.

(Tommy)>> We all know installing a quality set of headers onto your ride will give you a power gain. If you've got a track car and you're looking to take it to the next level JBA may have the answer. This is their 304 series polished stainless steel headers. They're made with three eighths inch c-n-c flanges to prevent leaks and large mandrel bent tubes to maximize flow. They also have O-two provisions and their Fire Cone merge collector for added horsepower and torque. So if you have a closed course competition car you may want to check JBA out. If you have any questions about what you've seen on today's show go to Powernation TV dot com.

If you're looking to do some body work on your ride one thing you're probably gonna spend a bit of time with is gonna be filler. So have several of them out here and I'm gonna give you kind of a crash course. Now depending on the task you're gonna try to accomplish is gonna determine which filler you need. So it's always a good idea to check with the manufacturer's specs to make the right decision. Now the first one we're gonna start with is just regular ole filler. You'll use this stuff to fix dents, dings, and that kind of thing, and normally if the can's been sitting for a while up here on the top you'll see some maple syrup looking stuff, or that can actually be here on the bottom as well. So you need to mix this stuff up and you don't want to use a paint shaker because what it will do is aerate that filler and create all these little air pockets in there, and that's bad. So all you need to use is a stir stick. So what I like to do is tilt the can back a bit and dig in from the top side to see if there's any settlement on the bottom. You'll see down in the very bottom with a little bit of clear. Just need to roll the can around now. What you're trying to do is scoop that up from the bottom and pull it back to the top. It's kind of a slow process but it's a necessary one. What you're looking for is a consistent creamy look. The next filler we're gonna talk about is considered reinforced. They make it in long and short fiberglass or like this one with aluminum dust. Now it works really well it you're gonna put it over the top of weld seams or if you're gonna mount something on top of it. You'll mix it the same way and you're looking for the same type of consistency. Now when this stuff dries it's gonna be more difficult to sand as opposed to just regular filler. The next thing we're gonna be talking about is finishing putty, and normally guys put this stuff over the top of their filler so that they can slick it out a little bit more, and they make it in a couple of different types. This one is a one-k meaning all you've got to do is take the cap off and then spread it on there. And this is old technology and if you try to put it on too thick well it's gonna take days and days for it to dry. The other is a two-k, meaning it's got to have a hardener to make it work. You're gonna need a few tools to do some mixing on. This is just an aluminum disc and I clean it off after each use, and then they make metal and plastic spreaders. I prefer to mix it on here with the metal one and then apply it to the body with the plastic. Mixing filler's a basic task but there are a few techniques of doing it that can save you some trouble. You don't want to swirl it around because as you mix it you're creating all those air bubbles. The way to get those out of there is you want to fold mix it, and when you pull it you'll notice that there's little bity air holes that have been pulled open. That eliminates those air pockets. I hope these tips help you with one of your next projects.

(Narrator)>> Stay tuned as we drive into the world of muscle cars.

(Tommy)>> Hey y'all welcome back. We're at the Henry Ford Museum taking a look into the history of the automotive world. We've traveled from the birth of the automobile to the love affair with the open road starting in the '50's.

(Marc)>> By the late '50's and into the early '60's big was the name of the game like this '59 Caddy. Huge power plants in big cars, lots of chrome, and of course those iconic tail fins.

(Tommy)>> Then in the '60's those manufacturers took those power plants out of those big ole cars and starting installing it into their intermediate size cars, and that's how the muscle car was born.

(Matt)>> As we get into the 1950's, of course we're in the middle of an economic boom. People now have more money. They're buying not just one car. In some cases they're buying two, maybe even three cars, and the idea of a car as something for fun really starts to take hold. You know it doesn't have to be just this practical thing you drive to work or to the grocery store. We'd experimented with that in the US industry in the teens and the '20's. You think about cars like the Stutz Bearcat or the Mercer Raceabouts, but it really comes to fruition after World War II. We think about cars like the Thunderbird, personal luxury. The Corvette which really arguably America's first true sports car. We've got Chrysler with the 300, which is a luxury car but it's a hot rod and it's a powerful, almost proto muscle car, and we build on that as we get into the 1960's and now car makers are building cars in different sizes and different styles, and engineers begin to experiment. You know if you've got a smaller car and you put a larger engine in it you've got something that's pretty fast, pretty lightweight. So we see the sportier compacts like the Falcon Futura or the Corvair Monza. The big shift though happens at Pontiac when you've got John DeLorean who takes their intermediate or mid-size car the Le Mans and he puts a big 389 engine in it. The story's legendary how GM had policies. No, no, you can't put a full size big engine in an intermediate car. The big engines are only for the big cars. So DeLorean well fine. This isn't a regular model. We'll make it an option, the GTO package. Then we can get the 389 in there, and when he does that in 1964 that's generally considered the birth of the muscle car. You could definitely trace some predecessors to the GTO but once that happens kind of the flood gates open, and now everybody's getting into the muscle business, and those cars will reign really through the late '60's into the early '70's where insurance rates and oil crisis kinda push them out to pasture.

(Marc)>> Now we' know not everything you saw here today is gonna be your cup of tea, and that's okay, but you can't deny the fact that the past 100 years of automotive innovation and how it led us to the performance world we live in today.

(Tommy)>> And it's been one heck of a ride, and just imagine what's to come in the next 100 years. You enjoyed yourself?

(Marc)>> Absolutely man.

(Tommy)>> Me too, we gonna have to come back, stay a little longer.

(Marc)>> Absolutely, like a couple of days, maybe setup a tent or something.
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