Fathers of Classics

Many Have Made the Auto Great

Larry Jewett - May 30, 2014 12:03 PM


Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, but his Model T is among the classics that have stood the test of time.

Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

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      It takes more than age to define an automobile as a “classic”. Conventional wisdom suggests that time adds to status, but it is certainly not the defining factor. The definition of classic resides in the thinking and emotion of those doing the defining.
      When it comes to cars, classic can be an additional designation because antique cars can be classic (but classic cars don’t have to be antique). Every car has a potential to be a classic (some with much greater potential than others). It doesn’t have any bearing on sales figures, but rests with a certain appeal that cannot be pinpointed.
      The early automobile designers have the distinction of being called “Fathers of Classics”. Without their work, plenty of classic automobiles never would have been made. Some even have their names still associated with classics and popular culture recognizes them more prominently than perhaps others who contributed so much without an equal amount of glory.
      Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, but he is a father of classics in a sense because his Model T helped change the way of thinking about automobile transportation. German inventor Karl Benz gets the credit for the invention of the “automobile”. Along the way, people took the work of Benz and put their stamp on it with greater power, better design, efficiency and all of the elements that helped make one stand out from the other.
      There were the Duesenberg brothers, Fred and August, though born in Germany, who created their cars in the Midwest. James Ward Packard and his brother William created their own brand around the turn of the century that amassed a following. The list could go on and on with names familiar and those more obscure.
      The work of the known and the unknown has charted that path that has allowed automakers from the beginning to take the challenge. Though the industry has weathered (and to a degree continues to weather) the times when the auto wasn’t much more than an appliance, there will always be classics and always be those who aspire to the creation of a classic.