Ypsilanti’s Automotive Heritage Museum

Dare you to say that three times fast.

The P71 prowled around the neighborhood in Michigan until we came to the intersection where this museum sits.  What a great looking place it is, too.  The inside has a really nice feel to it. 

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I really like the Hudson cars of the 1950’s.  They sat low on the frames and had great power for the times.  Which is why they dominated stock car racing in that era.

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The Twin H power of their balanced straight six-cylinder engines was a precursor to the muscle cars that would appear in the mid-1960’s. 

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Hudson was established by the founder of Detroit’s Hudson department store.  He provided the capital to get it started and had the company use his last name.

In 1939 they were the first company to hire a female designer, so that they could get that perspective into their cars.  Betty Thatcher worked from 1939 through 1941 when she married Joe Oros, then a designer for Cadillac and who later moved to Ford and worked on the Mustang.

Ypsilanti was the home of the Tucker.  Preston Tucker’s family owned Ypsilanti Machine Tool company.  He built the prototype here and then acquired a WW II plant for production of 51 cars. 

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Henry J. Kaiser and Joseph W. Frazer purchased the former willow Run B-24 bomber factory and in 1946 started production of their cars.  Kaiser was the guy who turned production of the WW II Liberty ships into an assembly-line production so that we could build freighters faster than the Germans could sink them.  They were welded instead of riveted, which was a first.  The first ones took about 240 days to build but over time that was cut down to 42 days.  One was launched four days and 15 and a half  hours after its keel was laid. 

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In 1956 Chevrolet used the same facilities to build large, special order trucks.  Then in 1959 to 1969 to build the Corvair.

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The Corvair was unique in that it never had a radiator.  The Franklin cars didn’t either, because they were also air-cooled, but they had a grill made to look like one so that buyers would feel more comfortable.  The Corvair didn’t even bother with that.

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The engine above was a turbo-charged Corvair motor.  The Corvair engines were six cylinder and horizontally opposed.  That is three cylinders opposite each other.  Some people call it a boxer engine.  The only other company to build such engines would be Porsche.

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The one above is the non-turbo version.

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The museum building was the location of the world’s last Hudson dealership.

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This is a great museum and should definitely be on your “must see” list. They even had an example of the last great Chevy police cars outside the building.

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The P71 liked that.

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This entry was posted in Automobiles, Car Museums, Car Stuff, Cars, Great Roads, Life and Cars, Road Trips and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Ypsilanti’s Automotive Heritage Museum

  1. kevin says:

    BWM make boxer engines for their motorcycles as well.

  2. First cars I remember, early 50’s was Dad’s Hudson. A palatial rear seat.

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