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Henderson Ford City Ann Arbor, Michigan

Today’s featured new car dealership is Henderson Ford Inc., which was located at 505 East Huron St. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and owned by John R. Henderson. The lead image of Henderson Ford City (name changed) dates to March 5, 1967, and appears to be the used car sales lot located somewhere else in the City. Note the two imported Ford Cortina’s in the second and third spots in the lineup on the far left.

The other images (below) at the 505 East Huron St. location were taken at some point between the fall of 1963 or the spring of ’64. It is not known how long the dealership was in operation, although John R. Henderson died in 1982. The building has not survived due to urban renewal and has been replaced by an eight-story masonry structure.

Please share with us what you find of interest in these photos courtesy of the Ann Arbor District Library.

30 responses to “Henderson Ford City Ann Arbor, Michigan

  1. Henderson Ford closed in 1980, according to an obituary of their Parts Manager. The used lot is probably at 3145 Washtenaw, because according to another article before it was Henderson Ford, it was the Herb Estes Ford that was covered here last month (Herb sold the Ford franchise and became a Volvo dealer) .

  2. Bet GE sold a lot of light bulbs to these places. The Cortinas are not new. ’66 was the last year for the Mark 1. Maybe it took a year to get them. The Ford pickups are ’67’s, waiting to be destroyed. ’64 was a big year for Ford, it was Car of the Year, and looks like Henderson is ready. When I was a kid, my friends brother bought a new black ’64 Ford XL 500, R code, like the one on the end. Those 2, 4 barrels looked mighty impressive to a 9 year old kid. I just remember one ride, it sounded like a truck, and set me back. The 1st really fast car I rode in. That could be a “Unibody” Ford truck behind it, officially known as the “Integrated pickup”, possibly with the owner still trapped inside. A common misconception, the doors only jammed when overloaded, but Ford stopped making them after ’63 anyway.

    • A coworker once told of being out cutting firewood with his dad and not being able to get in the truck after it had a heaping load of firewood. He said after that experience of having to unload most of the load to get a door open they always made certain to leave a door open out in the woods. He also said it creaked and groaned as it was flexing over the rough terrain coming out of the woods and eventually popped a lot of spot welds.

  3. In the Lead Photo on the left it looks to be a ’62 Mercury, a pair of mid-‘60s Ford Consul Cortinas, a ’66 Ford, a ’63 or ’64 Fairlane and a ’65 Ford. On he right a ’67 Galaxie, a pair of ’64 or ’65 Mustangs and a ’64 Fairlane 500 coupe.

    In Item 1 of 2, I see a ’60 Buick Electra Sedan on the left and some ’64 Ford Galaxies, starting with a 500 XLT hardtop. In the street, a ’62 Ford Galaxie sedan followed by a ’64 Galaxie 500 convertible.

    In Item 2 of 2, again the ’60 Electra next to a ’63 Rambler Classic 660 sedan, the group of Galaxies with possibly a Falcon at the end and maybe a T-bird Landau behind them.

  4. In both the 1st & 2nd expandable photographs, parked on the far right in front of the dealership, is a 1964 FORD Galaxie 500 Convertible, with the top down.

  5. Lead picture, the 64 Fairlane on the right just past the ladder looks like it has baby moon hubcaps.

    The black 64 Ford in the second and third pix having no wheel covers is, I believe, a newly arrived brand new car that the dealer hasn’t got around to putting the wheel covers on (my understanding is new cars of the era were shipped with the wheel covers not mounted), and not an example of a hot rodder’s attempt to make it look racier. (Although it is a sporty looking 2dr hardtop, it has no engine call out on the lower front fender that would indicate that it is a high performance model or even anything more potent than the base two barrel small block.)

  6. Great photos. I remember when the dealers would park a convertible on the street in front of the showroom. Nice black Galaxie hardtop on front lot. 60 Buick sitting on adjoining lot.

    • Hi John, my dad bought a ’68 Mark 2, 2 door, stuffed hard in the right door. ( cheap, I’m sure) He got it repaired, it had the 1600 motor and automatic, and I have to say, it did everything a Pinto did. We used to take it to school. One day, some punk in his old mans Buick, wiped out 4 parked cars during school. Yep, you guessed it, the poor Cortina was one of them. It was unrepairable after that, but a good car, I thought.

    • The manual transmission models – especially with the GT engine – could keep up with pretty much any other basic import of the era. I think Ford originally imported them to fill a gap in its small car lineup but that was soon filled by the Falcon, Pinto and Maverick and they were dropped just as quickly as they arrived. The unfamiliarity of US mechanics with them did result in a number of UK mechanics’ passage being sponsored in order to be the resident Cortina specialists at many dealers. A friend emigrated here under this program, coming from Ireland to first windup in Waycross GA, which was a bit of a culture shock initially.

      • Did the Cortinas of those years still use Wentworth or had they already switched to metric. Either way, most Ford mechs would be at a loss considering a whole new set of wrenches/sockets, etc. would need to be purchased.

        • Good ol’ ‘Murican wrenches would fit just fine since both USS and Whitworth were based on Imperial units. The arcane voodoo aspect of Whitworth arose simply from a difference in nomenclature. We would name the wrench for a 1/4” bolt 7/16” since that is the size of the head. Whitworth would call that a 1/4” wrench even tho it would measure 7/16” across the flats because it fits a 1/4” bolt. (IDK, wasn’t my idea!) I think tho that at that time mostly they used BSF (British Standard Fine) which would be comparable to SAE. That’s a s best I remember from an article I once found in that popular online encyclopedia. It even explains why bolts on older MGs came to have metric threads but Imperial heads

          I once bought a set of Whitworth “spanners” so I could be
          The Complete British Car Mechanic, but never really found a need to use them, so they still sit basically unused in a tool box drawer for “Goofy Stuff.”

          • Even my 73 Capri is not fully metric as there are a number of chassis fasteners that have distinctly SAE / Imperial dimensions across the flats of the hex.

  7. In a sea of Fords there is a lonely 1960 Buick shown (left) in pictures 2 and 3. Although I don’t know how they do it, readers here will probably be able to tell the model of Buick.

    • Richard,

      A good place to start, if one is not certain, is to look at classiccarcatalogueDOTcom to identify world-wide automobiles from 1930 through 1979. Replace “DOT” with “.” and you should get to the site.


    • The horizontal trim strips bracketing the rear license plate and the thin chrome trim surrounding it mark the Buick as an Electra, as noted above by AML and Pat W.

  8. I’m surprised to see a couple of signs advertising the British Ford Zephyr that appear to be connected to the dealer’s lot in the lead picture. I can’t imagine that there were too many buyers for that particular brand of Ford when there were much more attractive American made options available right there on the same lot.

    • Seeing the 31.9 sign next to the “Zephyr” sign tells me that Zephyr was a brand of gasoline. I don’t recall British Ford Zephyr models ever being imported to the US.

    • The lead photo is on West Stadium Blvd. based on the buildings in the background. Henderson Ford moved farther west on Jackson Ave. and consolidated new and used vehicles. Currently it is Varsity Ford.

  9. I concur with John Phibbs that the lead photo was taken at Henderson Ford’s West Stadium Blvd. used car lot. Although I can’t be sure, I believe that the 1965 Mustang (at the right side of the photo) facing the road is the same car that I purchased at this location on May 25 of that year. As you may suspect, there is more to my story. It all began in the summer of 1964. Having recently moved to the Ann Arbor area, my wife and I were shopping for a more family friendly vehicle than our Austin Healey 3000. Our quest took us to Henderson Ford (the downtown location) where we placed an order for a new Mustang. The order specified that the car be equipped with the 271 hp (K option) engine, 4 spd manual transmission, limited slip differential, special handling package and a few lesser options. I should mention that the 271 engine was a new choice and still difficult to obtain. Because of this, our salesman said that no down payment would be required. They wanted to get one in the dealership, but they needed a customer name on the order for the factory to supply it. They were not yet able to order one for “stock”. If we changed our minds, they would have no trouble selling it. We waited. No word on a build date. More waiting. Promised build dates came and went. At some point my patience ran out. One drive through down town Ann Arbor took us past European Cars, Inc. on South Main. There, in front of the small sales office was a bright red Sunbeam Tiger! The first one delivered in the Detroit region. Well, maybe not really “family friendly” but it did have roll-up windows. Two months later, Henderson called to say that my Mustang had just come in. I explained that we no longer needed it because we had purchased the Tiger.
    Fast forward to 1967. Our 1959 Pontiac Tempest station wagon (AKA family car) was getting tired and I had my eyes open for a replacement. One day , driving on West Stadium Blvd. I passed Henderson’s used car lot. Something caught my eye – there, in the front row was a sharp looking Mustang; bronze in color, with Firestone wide-oval F-70 tires. It looked aggressive. In, fact, it made me think of the car I had ordered two years earlier. I couldn’t resist pulling into the lot to look at it. Inspection showed that it was equipped exactly as the car we had ordered down to the color.
    The odometer showed approximately 19,000 miles. I was convinced it was the one we had ordered, and obviously, this car was intended to become part of our family. And so it did in May of 1967, serving well until June of 1970, when it was replaced by a 1970 Mercury Cylone. Imagine my surprise in seeing the picture above.

  10. In the leadind photo, it mentiontion that this was a used car lot. If that is true true, I pretty sure that on the right side of this photo it looks to me that the first car on the right side side is a 1967 Ford Galaxy 500. That would be a very low milage car if it was, someone did not like it. Iremember my parents had one when I was 17 yrs. old. I recived my driver licence in that car. Boy, I wish that I had that car now, some how I can still feel the HP. How does that old saying go, if wishes were?

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