iSPY something to do in Washtenaw County
July 15, 2011 2:16 pm

Blue Oval “Ford” Sign Among our Local Landmarks

Sonic Lunch Presented by Bank of Ann Arbor

by Tom Dodd

When Henry Ford built the Ypsilanti Ford factory shortly after World War Two, a Ford script sign adorned Building #1 casting its glow over I-94 toward the shores of Ford Lake. With the plant’s demolition in 2010, Automotive Components Holdings––with the support of Ford Motor Company––donated the sign to the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum.

The historic sign was restored by Joe and Yvonne Sesi and installed at the museum in Depot Town. The dedication and re-lighting of the sign took place at the 2010 Ypsilanti Heritage Festival moderated by Peter Fletcher as the Sesi couple flipped the switch.

The rest of the story:

Most people know the Ford Motor Company was founded by Henry Ford, but fewer realize this was his third attempt. Ford left Thomas Edison to create “The Detroit Automobile Company” and went bankrupt in two years.

With his new race car, Ford then founded the “Henry Ford Company” which became “Cadillac” a year later.

In 1902, Ford went on to create his third company, “Ford & Malcomson, Ltd.”, and low sales almost caused it to falter as his first companies had. Ford’s partner brought in new investors and convinced their parts suppliers, the Dodge Brothers, to accept shares in lieu of their parts billings and the rehabilitated company was renamed “Ford Motor Company”. The Dodge Brothers soon went on to form their own car company.

The “Ford” script seen on the sign and in the traditional “blue oval” is not a replica of Henry’s signature. In 1909, Ford’s first chief engineer and co-designer of the Model T, Childe Harold Wills, used a script he had employed for his own business card to create the Ford logo. The famous blue oval later appeared on the 1927 Model A – and remains in use until today.

The “Blue Oval” has undergone several design changes with the current one released in 2003 in honor of the Ford Motor Company centennial–– the “Centennial Blue Oval”.

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