Car nerds have a historical advantage over other enthusiasts because unlike video games, fantasy football, or the latest Netflix series, automobiles have been around for a long time. It’s been almost 130 years since Bertha Benz took that fateful 66 mile drive in her inventor husband’s “motorwagen,” and as the automotive world teeters on the edge of autonomy, one can confidently say that we’ve come a long way in regard to transportation.
Since we’re always looking to find fresh ways in which we can get in touch with our automotive roots, an invitation from Ford to tour its museum was warmly welcomed. Housed in a building that was dedicated to Henry Ford’s good friend Thomas Edison in 1929, this monolithic exhibit is not just home to automobiles like the bus that Rosa Parks refused to ride in the back of, but a a treasure trove of historical artifacts pertaining to all manner of industry and history. From archaic combine tractors and massive steam locomotives to airplanes and the chair Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in, the amount of historical preservation and documentation within this place is mind-boggling.
But given that you’re here for the cars, our focus will stay on the obvious, and there’s plenty of automobilia to cover in this place. Take the license plate pictured here for instance: Back in the early days of motor cars, there were no regulations hampering drivers, stop lights to control traffic flow, or long DMV lines for tag renewals. Back then, people made their own license plates, many of which were stitched out of leather, and utilized house numbers from the local hardware store.
We could go on for hours about the museum’s full-size metal diner, where you can order shakes and burgers beneath a massive neon McDonald’s sign, or the collective of pop-up campers, vintage gas station essentials, and period-correct magazine advertisements. This is not just a Ford museum, but a collection hall for all manner of automotive oddity, and we strongly encourage anyone with an interest in the iconic and the obscure to take the tour. Here are 10 of our favorite cars from the Henry Ford Museum, all of which are uniquely amazing in their own way.