Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

56-chevy-engine

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

V-8 cylinder engine, overhead valves, 265 cubic inches displacement, 205 horsepower.

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It’s the most enduring 8-cylinder American automobile engine. Chevrolet introduced its “small block” V-8 in 1955 – and kept on building it until 2003. Nearly every General Motors division used some variant, and total production is over 100 million, including later development generations. Not bad for an engine designed in 15 weeks. The compact unit is all but swallowed up by the Chevy’s engine bay. Note the relatively small-sized radiator, too. Efficient cooling was one of the small block’s many advantages.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Engines Exposed

omni2

1978 Dodge Omni

Inline 4-cylinder engine, overhead valves, 105 cubic inches displacement, 75 horsepower.

omni

Small cars pack a lot into tight spaces. The Omni makes the most of its engine bay by mounting the unit transversely, with the crankshaft parallel to the front bumper. It’s a layout not widely used in American cars since the early 1900s, but particularly well-suited to compact front-wheel drive vehicles. Power is sent to the Omni’s front wheels via the transaxle, a combination gearbox-differential, on the driver’s side.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Engines Exposed

bugatti-2

1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale

Inline 8-cylinder engine, single overhead camshaft, 779 cubic inches displacement, 300 horsepower.

bugatti

From its length, one might expect more than 8 cylinders under the Bugatti’s hood. But each of those cylinders displaces more than the whole of a Volkswagen Beetle’s power plant. Four air cleaners stand over the engine, fitted to the four carburetors installed by Charles Chayne after World War II. Two spark plugs protrude from each cylinder. The steering box sits just behind the right fender, in keeping with the car’s right-hand drive layout.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Driving America, by Matt Anderson, luxury cars, cars, Henry Ford Museum, events, Engines Exposed

Honda’s CR-V occupant detection system makes adjustments that are appropriate for each passenger when it deploys safety features like airbags.

How does a curator of communication and information technology who doesn’t drive experience her first North American International Auto Show? First, I took advantage of the convenient shuttle bus running into downtown Detroit from Dearborn. And when I arrived for press day at Cobo Hall, catching up with my colleagues after weaving through the maze of exhibits and crowds, they said I arrived looking a little… shell-shocked. My apparently palpable sense of wonder wasn’t directed towards the cars or the crowds, however—I was in awe with the technological cocoons in which they were displayed, and the surreal screen-world that I had stepped into.

Enormous and pristinely crisp LCD screens provided backdrops for automobiles. Touchscreen kiosks were everywhere. Each company seemed to be offering its own branded wireless hotspot. The usual standby of the printed brochure with specs had been replaced by download hubs for smartphone apps and kiosks to email yourself information from. The crowds of press were using cameras to share content through traditional broadcast and social media sites alike. Also, drones were buzzing around overhead at the Ford exhibit, tracking and delivering small models of the Raptor pickup truck to attendees who texted a special code. As the day went on, I kept thinking: what would a guest from 1907 (the year the Detroit Auto Show was founded) think of this spectacle? Continue Reading

technology, NAIAS, Michigan, Detroit, by Kristen Gallerneaux, car shows, cars

300-2

1956 Chrysler 300-B Stock Car

V-8 cylinder engine, overhead valves, 354 cubic inches displacement, 355 horsepower.

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They didn’t call the Chrysler 300 letter series luxury cars “bankers’ hot rods” for nothing. The 1956 300-B’s big V-8 achieved that holy grail of one horsepower per cubic inch. The cars dominated NASCAR, where rules still restricted teams to stock power. Note the cutout in the right wheel well and the nearby spotlight. These modifications allowed the driver to check tire wear through a hole in the firewall.

Matt Anderson is the Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford. See this engine and many others during Engines Exposed at Henry Ford Museum.

Engines Exposed

corvair1

1960 Chevrolet Corvair Sedan

Horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine, overhead valves, 140 cubic inches displacement, 80 horsepower.

corvair2

The compact Corvair reimagined the American automobile. Not least among its peculiarities was its rear-mounted, air-cooled aluminum engine. The air cleaner is prominent, with two hoses leading to carburetors mounted on each cylinder bank. Much of the engine is hidden by a metal shroud that directed the air flow around the unit. With its light weight and air cooling, the Corvair power plant proved popular with home airplane builders.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Engines Exposed

Buick's 2016 Cascada convertible, one of the many new cars vying for attention at the 2015 North American International Auto Show.

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) has rolled into Detroit to give us our annual look at the technologies and trends shaping the automotive industry. The two words that might sum up the 2015 show best are “power” and “performance.” On the former, nearly every manufacturer features some form of alternative fuel vehicle, while some – I’m looking at you, Tesla – offer nothing but. To the latter point, hot new cars from Cadillac, Ford and others promise old fashioned excitement behind the wheel.

Toyota’s innovative Mirai. Powered by hydrogen fuel cells, its only tailpipe emission is water vapor.

Toyota wasn’t the first automaker to market with a hybrid car, but its Prius went on to define the type. The company hopes to do the same for fuel cell vehicles with its remarkable Mirai sedan. The car is powered by an electric motor, but the electricity itself is generated by a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen that takes place in a fuel cell. The only emission from the car is water vapor. The Mirai is about as green as it gets but, while gas pumps and electrical outlets are a dime a dozen, hydrogen fueling stations are harder to come by outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Clearly, Toyota is betting on that to change. Interestingly, one of Toyota’s NAIAS displays includes a pair of faux hydrogen pumps. Visitors will be surprised and, Toyota must hope, reassured to see that they’re not much different from gasoline pumps. Continue Reading

racing, technology, NAIAS, Michigan, luxury cars, Detroit, cars, car shows, by Matt Anderson

DrivingAmerica_Bowen_0088

Expedia Viewfinder and The Henry Ford teamed up to discuss some of the best places to visit.

Expedia Viewfinder and Henry Ford Museum teamed up to discuss some of the best places to visit.

Henry Ford’s invention of the Model T put Americans in the driver’s seat. His affordable automobile made everything from running errands and commuting to work to taking Sunday drives and embarking on road trips possible for ordinary people. The Model T transformed the way Americans traveled and paved the road for the future of vehicles.

Expedia Viewfinder discovered that Henry Ford Museum refreshed its Driving America exhibit not too long ago, and we got to thinking about how these antique vehicles have contributed to our own opportunities for modern-day travel. With a set of wheels, we can tour unique corners of the country and witness unrivaled beauty at our leisure. Since it was Henry Ford who made road tripping possible in the first place, it only seemed fitting to partner up with The Henry Ford, home of the country’s premier automotive museum, to discuss some of our favorite routes and roadside attractions.

Some of the nation’s most scenic areas are best viewed from behind the steering wheel with the windows rolled down. So on your next open-road adventure, buckle up, rev your engine, and cruise over to these must-see attractions: Continue Reading

travel, by Chloe Mulliner, roads and road trips