MARQUETTE - The Model A Ford Club of America closed its national convention in Marquette Friday with the help of a Ford family member, Edsel Ford II, the great-grandson of Henry Ford.
Ford, 63, - elected in 1988 as a member of the board of directors of the Ford Motor Co. - was the guest of honor at a convention closing banquet at the Superior Dome.
Throughout the week, the convention drew almost 1,000 people to the Marquette area and more than 300 Model A Fords, which have been seen driving all over Marquette County.
Edsel Ford II talks with members of the media and public in front of the 20 Millionth Ford, a Model A built in 1931, at the Superior Dome in Marquette Friday. (Journal photo by John Pepin)
"Frankly, I was quite surprised when I got the invitation to come up here because frankly I'd never been to the U.P. before, never been to Marquette, I was very pleased to have the opportunity, " Ford said. "The summer weekends, as you can well imagine, are chock full of things to do, races to attend, weddings to go to, so this was an open weekend and I said to my wife, 'I'm going to Marquette. I'm going to go look at some Model As.' So it worked out beautiful."
This was Ford's first visit to Marquette and the city is the smallest ever to host the national Model A Ford Club of America convention.
"My first time in the U.P., I told the mayor we should swap jobs. This looks like a nice community and he can go and do all the things I do, travel, go to events," Ford said. "This is great, just terrific."
Ford, who is active in Ford company affairs and corporate dealer relations, said he goes to as many events like the Model A convention as he can.
"It's fun for me, I like to look at cars," Ford said. "We were at the Model T 100th anniversary four or five years ago, Mustang club events, this was nice to come here for the Model A, so I enjoy it."
Before leaving Marquette today, Ford said he had hopes of seeing the town.
"So far, it's beautiful. We drove in from the airport and it was a beautiful ride and we drove by a very nice little ski hill, which I thought was pretty impressive," he said. "And the hotel we're staying in is beautiful and I spent the entire afternoon in a Model A and I haven't done that for a long time. So it was very nice. I've enjoyed it."
Ford began his career at the Ford Motor Co. in 1974. He was named president and chief operating officer of the company in May 1991 and elected a company vice president in 1993.
In 2001, Ford purchased DaimlerChrysler Aviation and reinstated the company's previous name, Pentastar Aviation. Ford is the sole owner of the aviation services provider, which is headquartered at the Oakland County International Airport outside Detroit.
Ford's grandfather is Edsel B. Ford, company president from 1919 to 1943. His late father, Henry Ford II, was president of the company from 1945 to 1960 and chairman from 1960 to 1980.
"My grandfather Edsel was really the chief designer of the Model A, and so his design input is really why the Model A's look the way they look," Ford said. "Henry was obviously the head of the company at the time, but my grandfather Edsel had a lot to do with the design. Now, that being said, if they both could be here today, I think both of them would be thrilled to see how nicely their cars are being maintained."
Ford appreciated the event and the city hosting it.
"I understand the city of Marquette has turned out in force to greet all these (Model A) owners, which I think is terrific," he said. "These people care a lot about what they do and the cars they own. So, it's a real treat for me personally to be here."
Ford said he thinks the automobile in America is in a very good place.
"I think that, especially Ford Motor Co., we've launched many new cars, we have the new Fusion coming, we have the NKZ coming in the fall, we've launched a brand new Explorer, we've launched all sorts of new cars and trucks, the new Edge has just been launched, the quality is as good as it's ever been," Ford said. "And so, frankly, the industry is in good shape and I think Ford Motor Co. in particular is in very good shape."
Ford laughed when he was asked what his favorite model of Ford car is.
"I have four children, you wouldn't want me to tell you my favorite son would you," he said.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.