With media days behind us and the 2012 North American International Auto Show now open to the public at Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan, there is much to be said about the show itself, and what The Garage was able to see. While we’ll get to what happened on my day at the show when it opened to the press on Monday, my visit to Cobo was just one part of my journey to Michigan. This year, The Garage was honored to have been asked by Ford to be their guest for the show, and much more. Ride shotgun with me as I share my experience in Dearborn and Detroit.
On a clear, and actually comfortable January morning here on the Connecticut coast I left in my current test car, a 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited. Exciting it is not, but in just over an hour I was at Bradley International Airport just north of Hartford, the Highlander providing a quiet, comfortable ride and a good stereo and always easy to use navigation. Check in was a breeze and a two hour flight later, there I was in Detroit. Ford chauffeured me to The Henry in Dearborn where I would be staying.
It being the NFL playoffs, I wandered down the the hotel bar to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Denver Broncos. I sized up a fellow a couple seats down, who turned out to be a fellow blogger out of London, UK, who specialized in writing about auto design. Not a car journalist, but having visited Aston Martin and Bentley’s facilities, I could see why he was here. After enjoying a local micro-brew, we had to quit the game and prepare for our dinner.
Having been able to relax a bit, I was invigorated and excited to have our dinner at the Henry Ford Museum, a major tourist attraction for the area. This evening, as guests of Ford, we were treated to a sneak preview of the Driving America Exhibition that opens to the public on January 29. The Henry Ford Museum is absolutely massive, with too much to describe here. The building we were in is just a small part of the complex. Taking up 60,000 square feet with 100 vehicles of all sorts, this is a car museum like none other. This is the automobile, and automobile culture as generations have experienced or watched. While a first generation Prius or Dodge Omni may seem odd additions to a museum collection, these were significant cars for what they were. There is a little bit of everything here, race cars, Ford GT40 (seen above), icons like the Willy’s Jeep, even a fully restored diner and a train. Check the image gallery below for more.
Most impressive, and what awestruck many of us the most was the presence of two extremely historically significant cars, the Lincoln Continental that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in, and the Lincoln Continental President Ronald Reagan was shot while attempting to enter. You will note JFK’s car was fitted with a fixed hardtop before it was returned to service for President Johnson. While the car was originally painted Navy Blue, this Continental was been black ever since the car was rebuilt after the assassination. It’s a powerful part of American history to behold.
After admiring the cars, and impressive interactive stations visitors will be able to use, it was time to hear from the man at the head of this gathering of bloggers for Ford-Scott Monty, Head of Social Media. Gathered together this evening were 146 bloggers assembled from 16 countries. It would be a hectic few days together, we were told. Following dinner, I met up with a unique, small group of men whose blogs focused on parenting from a dad’s perspective. Interesting, I thought, but when I pressed to see if they reviewed cars, they did not. I confess, I was confused-why has Ford flown out all these people to a car show, but aren’t auto journalists?
I’d have time to consider that later. Our dinner broke up quickly afterwards, which left me just enough time to jump a cab ride to join The Man In Charge, our own Gary Grant who was holding court at The Volt Lounge in GM’s Renaissance Center in Detroit. Though we both work hard to bring you the content here at The Garage, I usually only see Gary once a year, if that, so it was a pleasure to spend some time together and talk with other auto journalists and photographers.
But the guests of us at Ford had a very early morning ahead of us, leaving for Cobo at 6:30am to be ready for the 2013 Ford Fusion world debut. Stay tuned for the next chapter!
Editors Note: Ford Motor Company paid for my travel, food, and accommodations, but I was not compensated in any manner for my time. The opinions expressed here are my own.