DEARBORN - For many people, July means fireworks, barbecue’s and swimming, but for Ford employees it also means it’s time to head over to the Product Development Center to take in rows of stunning classic cars – many owned by Ford colleagues – at the annual PDC Car Show. This year the theme of the show was “Dream Cars, Pace Cars and Ultra-Low Volumes” and hundreds of vehicles were on display for employees and patrons to enjoy.
Among the rarest-finds were a 1956 Continental Mark II Convertible, one of only two prototypes ever built, and two 1948 Tucker 48 sedans, two of only 47 completed. Tucker worked for Ford and built race cars for Henry Ford. The Tucker car even contained a few Ford parts.
More than three dozen rare vehicles were shown, including:
• 1966 Batmobile (Replica of the Barris-transformed 1955 Lincoln Futura Dream Car)
• 1954 Mercury XM-800 Dream Car, predictor for the highly-styled, new 1955 Mercury
• 1996 Ford Indigo Concept Race Car
• 1953 Ford Crestliner Sunliner Original Indy Pace Track Car
• 1957 Mercury Indy Pace Car
• 1961 Ford Thunderbird Indy Pace Car
• 1964-1/2 Ford Mustang Indy Pace Car
• 1968 Ford Torino GT Convertible Pace Car
• 1979 Ford Mustang Indy Pace Car
• 1994 Ford Mustang Cobra Indy Pace Car
According to Dave Glickman, product engineer, Body Engineering and chair of the event, the PDC Car Show has been an annual occurrence for dozens of years, but had lower attendance this year due to weather.
“This year was a very peculiar year,” Glickman said in response to the show being moved from the front lawn of the PDC to a number of parking lots, the result of several weeks of rain which drenched the lawn. Glickman added that attendance was down with only about 250 to 275 cars available to browse. “We normally have more than 400, close to 450 cars; this year was very strange, the first time in at least two dozen years we couldn’t have the show on the front lawn.”
Despite the change, plenty of car-loving Ford employees came out to enjoy the show.
Many we spoke with enjoyed comparing the old cars and their quality, technology and mechanics to the cars we drive today and the future vehicles many who work within the PDC are in the process of developing.
Frankie Reed, radio quality design and release engineer, told us it is important to know the history of the automobile to appreciate how much cars have evolved.
“I think it’s good for Ford to put on events like this because in order to understand building for the future, you need to know how cars were built in the past,” Reed said. “I think it’s very important for employees to know the history of cars.”
Fred Wilson’s 1930 Ford with completely original parts provided a great example. He explained that this vehicle could be started either via the crank on the front grille or with a key and the press of the ignition button on the floor of the vehicle. Either option required quite a bit more effort and TLC than the push-button ignitions we’re accustomed to today.
Wilson, who owns nine classic cars, took pride in his Ford’s unrestored look. “It has dents and dings, little waves and what not because it’s driven, it’s not a sitter,” he said, noting he takes the car up and down Telegraph road every Friday and Saturday night.