The new Herb Colling book “Ford City” came out in late November and has been awaiting a review since then. The main problem is that every time I’ve picked it up to write about it, I get suckered in to reading it all over again. It’s a fascinating journey into the incredible history of Windsor’s auto industry and worthy of the extra reads I invested into it.
As an avid fan of the old Studebaker line, I sometimes like to dig into the early 1960s TV commercials just for a little auto history. While Ford City doesn’t have as much Studebaker as I might have hoped for, it’s nonetheless interesting to discover that Windsor was a part of its history.
The short section on Studebaker talks about its beginnings in 1908 when its predecessor EMF bought an old furniture factory to start building cars. Those early cars, the EMF Model 30 and Flanders 20, which looked a little like the car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, helped the company grow and eventually rebranded as Studebaker. In 1913, the company was actually the second largest employer in the city.
The book does however shine with stories and a vast knowledge of Ford and Chrysler, as well the unique history of an industry that thrived during World War II and became a community steeped in the industrial manufacturing game. Without the industry there would literally be no “Ford City”.
The amount of research and time Colling has put into Ford City is phenomenal. Spanning more than 200 pages of photos, antidotes and pure history is worth every penny of the price for this coffee table offering. The photos give a fascinating glimpse into the buildings and factories that surrounded the city, including an artists representation of the early 1920s Studebaker plant on Montreuil Road.
Colling keeps a good mix of auto history and actual city history. It’s all here, from bust-to-boom, including constructions, strikes, newspaper headlines and an industry that bounced up and down as fast as a basketball in the NBA finals.
This book is another piece of Colling’s valiant efforts to preserve the history of the area and certainly continuing his love of the auto trade. He’s previously written four books including some that dive into the car business quite well – 1993’s Pioneering The Auto Age and 1995’s 99 Days: The Ford Strike In Windsor, 1945.
Fans of Windsor’s history will appreciate this thorough and very detailed look at Ford City and car enthusiasts will eat up every page of Windsor’s early auto history. The book can be purchased directly from Biblioasis.