Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire

By Richard Bak | Go to book overview

17
A Matter of Style

So gradually has Edsel come up in the industrial world that he has attracted
little attention in the world at large. The towering character of his father
has had much to do with it, but that is not the only reason. It would be dif-
ficult to find a person who has greater love, respect and admiration for a
father than does Edsel, and he has purposely kept himself in the back-
ground. But Edsel has not lost thereby. With him deference is not a weak-
ness. It has given him many opportunities to quietly establish himself against
the day when he alone will carry on the Ford traditions. In the inner exec-
utive circle of the Ford company there is complete agreement that Edsel is
the answer to all questions about the future of the business.

Detroit Saturday Night (1936)

At the time Edsel was publicly standing up to critics of Diego Rivera's murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts, he was emerging from a financial mess that had privately caused him to become weak-kneed with worry and dread. Along with several Grosse Pointe friends, most notably Ernest Kanzler, he had become deeply involved, as a director and its major shareholder, in the Guardian Group, a syndicate of banks and trust companies whose number included the Universal Credit Corporation. Kanzler had spearheaded the creation of the UCC in 1928 to handle installment loans for the Model A. UCCs partnership with the carmaker resulted in more than 400,000 loans in its first year and helped make the Guardian Group the largest financial syndicate in the state. Flush with money and optimism, the conglomerate built the Guardian Building on Griswold Street, a gaudy thirtysix-story tribute to high finance and even higher expectations.

-210-

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Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • 1: Farmboy, Tinkerer 1
  • 2: The Horse is Gone 18
  • 3: Rearview Mirror Ford the “automobileer” in 1900 32
  • 4: Who Can't Afford a Fordmobile? 38
  • 5: Hunka Tin 51
  • 6: The Five-Dollar Day 64
  • 7: Rearview Mirror the Crystal Palace in 1914 78
  • 8: War on Several Fronts 83
  • 9: Joy Ride 106
  • 10: Farewell, Lizzie 125
  • 11: Chronicle of the Neglected Truth 141
  • 12: The Little Man in the Basement 154
  • 13: Rearview Mirror the Crown Prince at Work and at Play 163
  • 14: Airships and Time Machines 172
  • 15: An Invitation to Organize 188
  • 16: Bullets and Frescoes 200
  • 17: A Matter of Style 210
  • 18: The Overpass 221
  • 19: Rearview Mirror Battling “fordism” in 1937 231
  • 20: A New Social Order 238
  • 21: You Know How Father Is 250
  • 22: Running on Empty 261
  • 23: Rearview Mirror the Last Years of the Flivver King 275
  • Postscript - Ford After Ford 284
  • Notes 293
  • Selected Bibliography 302
  • Picture Credits 305
  • Index 307
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