PBS’ documentary on auto pioneer Henry Ford is an interesting piece for anyone that has or has ever had any interest in the history not only of Ford but of the auto industry. Its release was rather well timed what with the American auto industry trying to make a comeback after the troubles that the industry has had in recent years as a result of the economy. While it is somewhat lengthy—it clocks in at two hours—it offers a glimpse of a man that likely few have ever known. And it has something that will any car enthusiast will find interesting. It offers an in-depth look at Ford’s life from his early childhood living on a farm to his later years. Audiences will see Ford as a man who was driven throughout the better part of his life. He wanted to be the best in the game both in business and even in racing. Because of his drive (no pun intended), he was also a very shrewd businessman. Audiences will be shocked to learn that as driven and respected as he was, Ford apparently started going downhill later in his life. He began to show anti-Semitic leanings. And his family life started to take a hit, too as he got older.
The story told through this documentary is enlightening for anyone that has any interest in the history of America’s very first automobile industry. It even includes an item of interest for fans of auto racing, too. As noted early in the documentary, Ford actually raced his car in the nation’s very first auto race in Michigan. It notes that he won that race in a come-from-behind win after the car of one of his competitors broke down. From there, he would go on to a handful of other wins, and would later incorporate Ford Motor Company. This goes back somewhat to the recent discussions in NASCAR centered on the new “Gen 6” car as it was made to look like street cars so as to encourage buyers to go out and buy cars on Monday that win races on Sundays.
Ford’s life and his influence on America and its economy is eye opening in so many ways as seen through this program. Making it even more interesting is the inclusion of actual photos and video of Ford’s life and accomplishments. They are excellent visual aids that help to move the story along over the course of its two-hour run time. Audiences get to see firsthand, footage of the workers on what would become the country’s first assembly line and pictures of the nation’s very first race. Also included are pictures of the very first two-seater created by Ford (essentially the country’s very first sport coupe). The pictures and footage of Ford later in his life are just as interesting to see as those of the empire that this once great man had created early in his life. The images and footage together fit very well with the story told by various academics to make a story that anyone with an interest in the auto industry will enjoy.
From the garages of America’s auto enthusiasts, to the garages of NASCAR, and from the assembly lines to conference rooms of today’s auto industry, Henry Ford will interest anyone who has anything to do with cars. Because of its history, it’s a tool that could even be used in the classroom for anyone studying auto technology or related courses at colleges and tech schools across the nation. It is available now to order online. It can be ordered direct via the PBS online store, http://www.shoppbs.org.
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