The recently released movie Ford vs Ferrari tells the story of the Ford Motor Company and its pursuit of sports-car racing glory while striving to defeat Ferrari after a deal to buy the Italian car company went bad. Ford had already been involved in racing Indy cars, stock cars and drag racing. Beating Ferrari at Le Mans would put Ford on the map in sports-car racing and hopefully entice younger buyers to buy Fords. Ford Motor Company wanted to be known as more than a maker of cars for family road trips.
It was different story 50 years earlier when Henry Ford helped introduce the road trip into American culture. Beginning in 1914 and continuing each year until 1924, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, along with Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs, took summer road trips together all over the country. They camped along the way, with chefs and butlers in tow, and investigated travel conditions. They called themselves The Vagabonds. They also took along a film crew and their travels earned a lot of publicity. Enthusiasm for road trips increased and along with it roads and roadside services took shape.
To read the interesting story of their road trips and about the impact they had on culture and infrastructure, check out the book The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s Ten-Year Road Trip.
For even more fun, watch some of the films The Vagabonds made on their travels. Several of them are available on YouTube. The video below from The Henry Ford offers some highlights or find them all here.