All eyes will be on the Antiques Roadshow in coming months.
That's because Ford Motor Co. is on the lookout for a lost heirloom that signifies its storied racing heritage.
In 1901, desperate to advance his fortunes as a car builder, 38-year-old Henry Ford challenged the day's pre-eminent racer. In the first and only race of his life, Mr. Ford drove his two-cyl., 26-hp car — christened “Sweepstakes” — to victory over Alexander Winton's 70-hp “Bullet.”
“It was the race that changed the world, for it allowed Henry Ford to establish Ford Motor Co. in June of 1903,” says Mr. Ford's great-grandson and company director, Edsel B. Ford II.
For winning, Mr. Ford received a cut-glass punch bowl that race organizers chose as a trophy because it suited Mr. Winton's home decor. Instead, Mr. Ford displayed it in his home, where it remained until his death in 1947.
By that time, its significance had been forgotten.
“It went into an art gallery in New York and then was sold to a private collector,” says Edsel Ford. “Nobody has seen it since.”
But the original Sweepstakes has been located and the Henry Ford Museum is overseeing its restoration. To mark the 100th anniversary of its fabled victory, Ford is staging its own antiques road show at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI, where Sweepstakes and other vintage racing vehicles will go on display Oct. 13-14.
The event will culminate a yearlong advertising campaign honoring Ford's contributions to racing and the auto industry.
“As for the punch bowl trophy, it's probably being used as a fruit bowl in someone's kitchen today,” Edsel Ford says. “We'd like it back.”