YPSILANTI, MI – The historic city of Ypsilanti this week hosted a celebration for the forgotten: cars no longer produced by brands that no longer exist.
Now in its 17th year, the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum’s Orphan Car Show is dedicated to vehicles manufactured no later than 1964 by foregone auto makers such as Nash, Packard, Studebaker, Liberty, Cord, REO, Kaiser, DeSoto, Oldsmobile, Edsel, AMC, Willys-Knight, Crosley and Hudson.
Recently orphaned brands such as Pontiac, Mercury and Saab also were eligible to participate.
In all, 256 vehicles were registered for the event and were divided into 16 categories.
Automotive journalists evaluated and selected a favorite from each category, including a rusted-out but historically significant ’22 Reo T-6 owned by Dan Shafarman of Lansing, MI, as well as a ’35 LaSalle Model 5607 owned by Richard Zapala of Haslett, MI.
Absent from the field was Tucker, although Ypsilanti was where prototypes for the Tucker 48 were designed and built. Much earlier, the city was home to Apex Motors, which produced ACE cars from 1920-1922.
Henry J. Kaiser and Joseph W. Frazer bought the nearby Willow Run B-24 Liberator bomber plant from Ford in 1945 and two years later started manufacturing Kaiser and Frazer cars there. Kaiser assembly in Ypsilanti ended in 1953.
General Motors purchased the Kaiser-Frazer factory the same year and retooled it for Hydramatic transmission assembly. GM Powertrain ended production there in 2010.
The last Hudson automobile dealership also was located in Ypsilanti and now houses the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum.