COLOGNE, Germany – Ford of Germany employees are embarking on a seven stop road trip to commemorate the150th anniversary of the birth of Henry Ford. During the fourth stage of this unique tour, Thomas Schaffner and Thomas Zuendorf travelled through the Rhenish mining villages in a 1962 Ford Taunus M and the latest generation Ford Galaxy.
Kerpen-Manheim is a typical village in the vast landscape of the Rhine-Erft region, surrounded by corn and beet fields, complete with well-kept houses, immaculate gardens, and a proud neo-Gothic church tower.
The horizon is dominated by giant excavators used to mine brown coal from a vast open pit. Soon though the pit will close and the excavators, together with 1,600 villagers, will relocate to nearby Neu-Manheim – an all new village built from the ground up.
Among them will be Udo Irnich who runs a Ford Service facility his father, Rolf, built in 1967. He’s building a brand new Ford dealership/workshop in Neu-Manheim and is excited about the future.
“I will take all my existing customers and look forward to working with many new ones too,” says Udo. “Our new premises offer every convenience.”
One of the stars inside the new showroom will be the Irnich’s 1931 Ford Model A. But today Udo is getting to know another oldie - a 1962 Ford Taunus 17 M – driven by former miner Thomas Schaffner.
With its chrome dashboard, and huge steering wheel featuring the Cologne coat of arms in the middle, the Taunus wins Thomas over in no time. “It’s very pleasant to drive, you get used to it very quickly.”
Wolfgang Laufer of Classic Cars, accompanied the tour, and explains why the Taunus was so popular. “It was a time of economic boom in Germany, and the car was perfect for people who wanted to travel to Italy and needed a large trunk and a powerful motor. It had that flamboyant aerodynamic design too. Contrary to many predictions, it really was a best seller.”
Shadowing the Taunus on this leg of the Tour was a latest generation Galaxy driven by Thomas Zuendorf who appreciates the vehicle’s enormous capacity to carry people and luggage in complete comfort.
The fifth leg of the Henry Ford anniversary tour gets underway on July 17th.