Almost every owner of an antique Ford, or anyother make for that matter,
dreams of having his or her car return to the factory from which it came
new. On June 24, 2000 my dream came true when I brought my Model N Ford
back to the Ford factory building on Piquette Avenue in Detroit where it
was built in 1907. The occasion was the result of a request of the History
Channel which wanted to film a short feature (7 minutes) on the Ford cars
before the Model T. The photos on this web page were taken over the course
of the day between breaks in filming.
Here is the Model N in front of the building in which it was built.
This same building was featured on the cover of the November-December
1998 issue of the Vintage Ford. Of course, when I took the picture
that eventually appeared on the cover, I would have liked to have featured
my Model N, but logistically, it wasn't possible. Instead Danny and Susan
Walters provided their beautiful1908 Model S Runabout. The rest is history...
This is one of my favorite photos of Piquette. It was probably taken
in the fall of 1905 or early 1906 and it shows Clara Ford (Driving) and
an unknown female passenger (accounts identifying this person vary according
to the source) with the Piquette factory in the back ground. The car is
probably the prototype Model N. Photo from "Ford: The Man, The Times, The
Company" by Allan Nevins (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1954, p. 385)
Most of the building remains in its original condition. Here the Model
N (who answers to the name of "Natty") is shown along side the west side
of the building. Compare this photo to the one below showing one of the
first Model Ts (possibly car number zero) in almost the same location.
Not only was the car featured outside the building, but access was gained
to the first floor. Here the "Natty" is seen in the northwest doorway.
The Piquette Plant is unbelievably well preserved. The interior of the
first floor is almost exactly the way it was when Ford left it in 1911.
Here is "Natty" inside the north-most bay of the first floor. The puddle
under the radiator is coolant - the water pump packing has started to leak
and since the entire waterpump must be disassembled to tighten the pack
nut, I put that chore off until after the filming session. Just behind
the left front wheel is a puddle of oil - by the time filming was complete,
she had left three rather sizeable oil pools on the floor.
This was the arrangement of the cars during most of the filming. "Natty" is on the right. Of the three cars shown here, only she was built at Piquette. In the background is "Clare". She belongs to Rick Lindner and is a 1903 Model A Ford (#1098!). "Clare" was built at the Ford Motor Company's first factory on Mack Avenue in Detroit. That building no longer survives. On the left is Danny and Susan Walter's 1914 Model T. Technically that car was built in ... Walkerville, Ontario (eh?). This is probably the first time that early Ford cars have been inside this building since 1911, the year Ford sold the building to Studebaker.
T-Plex - Information on the Model T Heritage Comples, Inc, the new owners of the Piquette Avenue Plant
(This link is not active yet - the T-Plex page is still under construction)
1907 Model N Ford - A series of web pages describing the features of this early Pre-Model T Ford
Last Revised: 6/30/Y2K