The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, and an Epic Quest to arm an America at War – by A.J. Baime

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“The Arsenal of Democracy” was a phrase coined by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1940 in reference to the collaborative efforts of American industry in supporting the allied war effort by mobilising the mass production efforts to change production from consumer and other products to plane, tanks, bombs and other item required to win the war

As with all of A J Baime’s books this one is well researched and shows a deep knowledge of Detroit industry and in particular Ford Motor Company in wartime. The intricacies of the complex Father & Son relationship between Henry I and Edsel and the rise of Henry II are well described, along with Edsel Ford’s largely unsung role. Having read extensively on the subject of the early Ford Motor Company this book is a great addition and provided many new angles and facts.

A great read!

As an interesting footnote to the story of Willow Run, there is a campaign to stop the demolition of the bomber plant.

Read about it here


Henry: A Life of Henry Ford II by Walter Hayes

I’m currently reading  Henry : A Life of Henry Ford II  by former Ford employee Walter Hayes

Henry: A Life of Henry Ford II

Henry: A Life of Henry Ford II

Henry Ford II arrives in the Netherlands (1954).

Henry Ford II arrives in the Netherlands (1954).

As those of you who read the blog know I’m a bit of a student of Henry Ford

This book has been a real eye opener for me in as much as I now understand how instrumental Henry Ford II was in saving Ford Motor Company after the death of old Henry.

Henry II took over the ailing company at a very young 25 years of age and was in office from 1945 until 1979 and died at the age of 70 in 1987

You can read more about Henry’s reign here


Book – The Critical Path: Inventing an Automobile and Reinventing a Corporation by Brock Yates

The Critical Path: Inventing an Automobile and Reinventing a Corporation

The Critical Path: Inventing an Automobile and Reinventing a Corporation

I’ve recently read this book, and as always with Brock Yates’s work it’s a really enjoyable read.

Here’s the overview

The story of  how Chrysler’s minivan team created an automobile that captured the 1995 Motor Trend Car of the Year and other major awards – and reinvented a perilously entrenched corporation in the process – is as dramatic and inspiring a story as any in business today. Brock Yates, one of the most respected writers in the auto world, was given unprecedented access to Chrysler – every planning session, presentation, budget review, test drive, assembly line start-up, and marketing launch. The result is a book that unveils the mysteries of modern car-making, revealing how cars are shaped through countless interlinked decisions ranging from size and power to door configurations, color selections, and innumerable other interconnected details. It also captures the complex process by which the thousands of separate pieces that make up a car are designed, tested, manufactured, and marshaled into place at the exact moment they are needed. For any reader who cares about cars, this is the most intriguing look inside the mysteries of their creation ever written. At the same time, The Critical Path recounts an extraordinary drama of all-too-human managers attempting to make something new, in a new way, inside a corporate culture that resists them at every turn. The story of how Chrysler’s minivan platform team kept their commitment to quality, schedule, and budget – with a $3 billion investment and the company’s fate palpably in the balance – is as encouraging a tale as has emerged from American business in years. The unprecedented triumph and Chrysler’s resultant comeback is a lesson in successful management that will be savored by any reader interested in how great companies make breakthroughproducts

The book was originally published in 1996 and is available here

The Hemi in the Barn by Tom Cotter – More Great Stories of Automotive Archaeology

Another excellent book by Tom Cotter

It’s every car lover’s fantasy: the perfectly preserved classic automobile discovered under a blanket in some great-granny’s garage. And as author Tom Cotter has discovered time and again, it’s a fantasy that can come true. The Hemi in the Barn offers more than forty stories of amazing finds and automotive resurrections. Avid collectors big and small recall the thrills of the hunt, the tips and hunches followed, clues pursued, the heart-stopping payoff. There’s the forgotten Duesenberg—probably one of the last unrestored ones around—that Jay Leno found in a Burbank garage. Unbelievably, Leno found another Duesenberg in a parking garage in New York City—a car that was parked in 1933 and never moved. There’s a Plymouth Superbird found buried in a hedge in Alabama. There’s the rescue of the first 1955 Corvette ever built. As entertaining as these tales, are they’re also full of tantalizing hints and suggestions for readers setting off on their own adventures in automotive archaeology.