Different by Design: New Exhibit to Explore Edsel Ford’s Style & Design

Edsel’s personal automobiles are on display at Edsel & Eleanor Ford House
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GROSSE POINTE SHORES, Mich., June 8, 2009 – Certain moments in the history of the automobile design industry are well documented: The production of the 1927 Ford Model A, the introduction of the 1932 Ford V-8 Cabriolet and the launch of the sensational 1935 Lincoln Zephyr. One chapter that deserves chronicling is the influence Edsel Ford has had on the design of the modern car and how his passion for customizing the spaces and objects around him played a significant role in the automotive styling revolution of the 1930s and beyond.

“Different by Design: The Styling of Edsel Ford,” a new multimedia exhibition opening June 13 at Edsel & Eleanor Ford House (Ford House) aims to shed light on this subject and showcase Edsel’s eye for style and design. The exhibition showcases three of Edsel Ford’s personal automobiles that feature his specific customizations: the 1934 Brewster Town Car, the 1938 Lincoln K Brunn Brougham and the 1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet.

The new exhibit also features interactive displays, fascinating audio recordings, historical images and artifacts, as well as an abundance of information, to bring these remarkable icons to life for visitors of all ages.

“Edsel Ford surrounded himself with good design and talented designers, with the confidence to rely on their creativity,” said Kathleen Mullins, president of Ford House. “He frequently added his ideas to their designs, making the outcome uniquely his own. Edsel’s influence can be experienced throughout the Ford House estate, in the architecture, on the landscape, and now with this new exhibit and each of the three cars.”

1934 Brewster Town Car
Visitors to the exhibit, located in the historic 2,160 square foot garage at Ford House, will witness the homecoming of the 1934 Brewster Town Car; 2009 marks the 75th anniversary of its delivery to the Ford family at their Gaukler Pointe estate. This was the third Ford Brewster to be built and this particular car featured slightly different styling than the others as a result of Edsel’s personal changes;

The Ford Brewster was intended to be a line of custom models built atop of a Ford chassis. Edsel Ford requested that his custom 1934 Brewster be fitted with a standard Ford V-8 grille rather than the standard heart-shaped grille of the Brewster design. The sharper grille and the delicate geometry of the bumper enhanced the beauty of this one-of-a-kind car.

1938 Lincoln K Brunn Brougham
The exhibit also features the family’s 1938 Lincoln K Brunn Brougham, which was used by the Ford family from 1938 to 1941. In 1938, Edsel selected Brunn & Company to create a body for the Lincoln chassis. Edsel envisioned the automobile with a “large built-in trunk in the rear…as generous as possible.” He believed that the extended trunk enhanced the look of the car and added considerable storage space. The 1938 Lincoln K contains a V12 engine which visitors will be able to bring to life with a special audio recording. This was one of 14 Lincoln K Brunn Broughams produced in 1938 and the only one with the extended trunk design.

1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet
The exhibit will culminate with the 1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet, an iconic American classic, which is widely considered to be the preeminent example of Edsel Ford’s taste in automobile design.

In the 1930s, Edsel Ford teamed with his chief designer E. T. Gregorie to develop a series of custom automobiles that captured the spirit and elegance of cars Ford encountered on the European continent.

In 1938, Gregorie and Ford arrived at the design that would make automotive history. Searching for a look that met Edsel’s desire for a classy, streamlined car, Gregorie modified a 1938 Lincoln Zephyr, making it lower and longer. The “Lincoln-Zephyr Special Convertible Coupe” immediately won Edsel’s approval.

The finished car was painted Eagle grey, fitted with gray leather trim, and shipped to Edsel on vacation in Palm Beach, Fla. The reaction from his fellow vacationers was so strong that Ford Motor Company included the “Zephyr Continental” in their 1940 Lincoln line. In 1951, the car was honored for design excellence by the Museum of Modern Art.

“Edsel Ford made personal modifications to many of the cars he owned, both as a means of experimentation and as an expression of his personal taste,” added Mullins. “We are thrilled to showcase these examples of his work for the public and hope visitors will leave with a newfound appreciation for Edsel’s passion for design.”

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House opened its doors to the public in 1978. Since then, Ford House has shared Eleanor Ford’s vision of preserving and maintaining the house and grounds for future generations to enjoy through interpretive tours, family activities, lectures, exhibits, and gardens and grounds events. For more information about Ford House, go to www.fordhouse.org or call (313) 884-4222. Ford House is located at 1100 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich.

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