Ford Museum Expansion
Article by Dave Kurtz | KPC Media | May 14, 2019
AUBURN — Gleaming as brightly as its centerpiece car, a stainless-steel 1936 Ford, the Early Ford V-8 Foundation opened its new wings to visitors Friday.
In its 10th anniversary year, the museum south of Auburn has more than tripled in size, adding two new galleries with 20,000 square feet of space to display dozens of vehicles.
A stainless steel version of a 1936 Ford rotates on a turntable inside the Early Ford V-8 Foundation, south of Auburn. In the foreground is a 1936 Ford built in Germany. The museum unveiled its expansion Friday. The exterior is a replica of the origin Ford Motor Co. Rotunda that stood in Dearborn, Michigan, until 1962.
“A lot of people have worked very hard for many years to make this possible, and we’re very happy to be in Auburn and be part of this wonderful automobile history community,” said John Knecht of Hudsonville, New York, president of the foundation.
One of those hard workers is Joe Floyd of South Dakota, who gave the museum his collection of 17 fully restored Fords, one of every model the company produced in 1936, plus three extras.
“I always liked working on old Fords,” Floyd explained. In his retirement, he began a 20-year project that resulted in the new exhibit. Seven years ago when they found a Club Cabriolet, the most rare ’36 model, he and his wife decided to try for a complete set.
“Two years ago we finally completed the collection with the Boulevard Delivery” model, Floyd said, and they began looking for a way to preserve and share their work. They settled on donating their autos to the foundation.
The museum houses Floyd’s cars inside a replica of the Ford Motor Co. Rotunda in Dearborn, Michigan, which was destroyed by fire in 1962.
In the interior of the rotunda, the museum set up an exhibit with the theme of “Floyd Motor Co.”
“What we’ve done is recreated a Ford dealership from 1936. You can go in and pretend to buy a new 1936 Ford,” Knecht said.
As a highlight, a shiny, stainless steel Ford Deluxe built especially for the Allegheny Ludlum company rotates on a platform in front of a picture window that makes it visible from outside.
The other half of the expansion holds the foundation’s own collection of Fords from 1932-1953, when Flathead V-8s powered the automobiles. The gallery bears the name of the late Frank Corey, a generous donor from New Mexico.
Knecht said the museum has a mission to preserve the history of Ford Motor Co. and the culture that surrounded it in those Flathead V-8 years.
“That culture, we’re saying, changed America,” Knecht said. “We’re dedicated to that whole culture, that whole history, that the Flathead V-8 was responsible for. … It’s really a part of American culture that we’re trying to preserve. And we”re dedicated here to making this an educational facility.”
By attracting school children from the region and Ford fans from around the world, “We’ll bring a lot of people here who haven’t been here before,” Knecht said about Auburn.
The Early Ford V-8 Club of America will gather at the museum for a national meet Aug. 23-27, immediately before the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival that celebrates cars built in Auburn. Already, 254 vehicles are registered for the Ford V-8 event.
“It’s almost daily that the buzz increases,” Knecht said about the expanded museum. “There’s an excitement about the place that’s at least national, if not international.”