Sometimes, the best way to navigate the road ahead is to understand and appreciate the path already traveled.
The historical jewel that is Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI, hosted the Old Car Festival this past weekend, and there really is no better event – or setting – to illustrate how amazingly far automotive styling, technology and comfort have evolved in a little over 100 years.
Some 750 prized vehicles, bikes and motorcycles produced before 1932 cruised the streets of Henry Ford’s historical wonderland to highlight an era when cars needed to be cranked, wheels were made of ash wood, sideview mirrors were just arriving, and some body panels were covered in fabric.
These were the days before the birth of the inventors of the iPod and satellite radio, when the victrola was impractical for mobile entertainment and the only thing that came from the cloud was rain.
Modern features such as airbags, cruise control, antilock brakes, navigation systems and bucket seats were only a dream at that point.
Over the course of two beautiful days, four automotive historians (David Liepelt, Bob Casey, Marty Bufalini and Glen Miller) as well as bicycle expert Ross Hill provided in-depth color commentary as the cars paraded in chronological order past a reviewing stand.
On Saturday, the park stayed open until 9 p.m. as the cars motored through the village under gaslight, kerosene and early electric lamps, followed by fireworks to end the night.
Greenfield Village has hosted the annual Old Car Festival for 62 years, making it the longest-running antique car show in America.