MOTOR CITY JOURNAL
December 9, 2002
BY BILL McGRAW
DETROIT FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Details are still top secret, but Ford Motor Co. is hard at work on its most unusual model: a weeklong party to celebrate the firm's 100th anniversary.
It's shaping up as a gearhead gala for the ages: a combination music fest, state fair, Daytona 500, fireworks and immobile dream cruise.
The event, from June 12 to 16, will take place on 150 acres surrounding Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, within walking distance of the 1863 birthplace of Henry Ford.
All you'll need is sunblock, sturdy shoes and a sense of Ford's amazing history.
Oh, and 25 bucks.
That's right. Ford will charge $24.95 for admission ($19.95 for employees; children 12 and younger will get in free). That one ticket will be good for entry to the party all week; no one-day tickets will be sold.
The admission fee has struck even some Ford diehards as like asking guests to pay to come to your birthday party.
Ford spokesman Tom Hoyt said it was too early to discuss specifics. The company plans to roll out its party plans in about 10 days.
The company deals with the issue, though, in its centennial Web site.
Question: "Why is the company charging admission?"
Answer: "In order to create a special, once-in-a-lifetime event that is both memorable and appropriate for a significant milestone such as this, it's necessary to charge a nominal fee to help offset the cost. It is not uncommon to charge admission for an event like this."
Another transportation icon -- Harley-Davidson -- also is celebrating 100 years in 2003. A spokesman said the company will charge a small fee for some exhibits connected with the celebration, but the main gala will be free.
The biggest element of the Ford celebration, natch, will be cars. Thousands, from cherry Model Ts to sparkling Jaguars, will be on display daily, and members of the public can register to display their classic machines.
Ford expects so many requests to display vehicles that it has established an independent panel to choose. "It will be quite an honor to have your vehicle be part of the company's 100th anniversary," the Web site says. Car owners who make the cut will receive a dashboard plaque.
The company has a series of concerts planned. No one is naming names, but they are talking about Motown, jazz, country and rock. Henry loved fiddle music and square-dancing, but there is no mention yet of that.
Thursday, June 12, is set as racing night, when NASCAR drivers will be on hand. No racing is planned.
A review in Car and Driver magazine knocked Ford for including vehicles from recently purchased companies, which suggests how centennials can be complicated affairs among people who are serious about their wheels.
"Sorry guys," wrote Mary Seelhorst, "but buying Aston Martin doesn't make James Bond's DB5 a Ford any more than my buying a portrait of George Washington for the front hall makes him my ancestor."
For details on the centennial, go to www.fordcentennialreg.com/.