MCG pays a visit to a great Detroit historic landmark and one of America’s top car guy destinations: the Ford Piquette Avenue plant.
The Ford Piquette Avenue plant differs from other car museums in one key way: Here, the most important exhibit is the building itself. Constructed in 1904 at 411 Piquette Avenue, the plant produced many of Ford’s early models, including the B, C, and F, as well as the closely related N-R-S models. Most importantly today, Piquette was also the birthplace of the Model T.
The car that put America on wheels was designed and developed in this building, and the first 12,000 units or so were built here before production was moved to the mammoth factory at Highland Park. Erected near the heart of Milwaukee Junction and one of the last major Detroit auto plants to use 19th-century mill-style construction, Piquette is of undeniable historic importance.
Ford Piquette Avenue plant, circa 1909
When the neighborhood slipped into decline in the late 1990s, a dedicated group of historical preservationists stepped forward to protect the facility, an officially designated National Historic Landmark. They operate as the Model T Heritage Complex, Inc. a not-for-profit that conserves and maintains the factory building and houses the fabulous little car museum inside.
You can find visiting hours, directions, and other info here at the organization’s website. When you visit, be sure to take the guided tour of the historic plant, which is led by extremely knowledgeable Ford historians. The staff here really knows their Ford lore, and they’re generous and gracious about sharing it.
And be prepared to see not only some great examples of early Fords in the museum displays, but the top Ford competitors of the era, including Brush, Hupmobile, and Dodge. Included are some original, unrestored automobiles, which are really wonderful to see. All in all, the Piquette Avenue Plant is a must-see for gearheads. A few of the highlights are included below.
Model T Ford custom-bodied speedster
Brass front Ford Model T Touring
1903 Ford Model A rear entrance tonneau
1911 Hupmobile Model 20 Touring
1911 Brush Runabout
1909 Ford Model T Touring
1911 Hupmobile Model 20C Runabout, unrestored
1906 Ford Model N Runabout
1925 Ford Model T Station Wagon Four Wheel Drive
1911 Ford Model T Touring Canada
Ford Piquette Avenue plant, June 2013