American Pickers at Pioneer Village

The episode of American Pickers that documented their visit to Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska, finally aired last night. The entire episode was dedicated to this spectacular museum located just a dozen miles south of I-80, and it was really decent of the show to use their platform to give a boost to this local treasure.

This Ford Model K was featured during the episode. I wrote about this car a few years ago, and, if you want to know more, you can read about it here: Ford Model K – American Car Historian

This car is located in the main building at Pioneer Village, as are many others, but there is so much more. There are, I believe, four other buildings packed full of automotive history. You will find more Ford, GM and MoPar products than you’ve likely seen in one place. You will also find a plethora of Packards, Studebakers and more unusual things like a Marmon Roosevelt and a Sears All-State. Seriously, if you are the type of person that has motor oil coursing through your veins, you need to plan a vacation around a visit to this place.

The Fords Tell Their Plans for 1939

The above advertisement featuring Henry and Edsel Ford appeared in November of 1938. It concludes by saying, “With new cars, new plants, new equipment, the whole Ford organization is geared to go forward.” The “new cars” referenced were the first Mercury 8, as well as two new Fords that were “better cars and better looking” for 1939. Presiding over the design of these cars was Bob Gregorie, the man Edsel had put in charge of Ford’s first separate design department in 1935. That was a smart move considering the beautiful automobiles produced by Ford Motor Company in the thirties and forties. Gregorie bookended his time at Ford with boat design, and you can see how that experience influenced the streamlined Ford Motor products during his years with the company.

This ’39 Ford Deluxe was designed to “share a family likeness with the Lincoln Zephyr.” It was streamlined, with a deep hood unbroken by hood side louvers, a low radiator grille and teardrop-shaped headlamps set into the fenders. The radiator ornament extended vertically downward to conceal the hood handle.

The steel bodies of the Ford Deluxe were offered in six colors (Black, Jefferson Blue, Dartmouth Green, Cloud Mist Gray, Folkestone Gray, and Coach Maroon Bright) and six body types, including convertible coupe, convertible sedan, Tudor and Fordor sedans, a station wagon and, of course, the coupe:

Two engines were available in ’39, the “thrifty” 60-hp and the 85-hp found in the Deluxe:

The following page is taken from the Ford brochure. Notice the last sentence which specifies that a rumble seat is standard equipment for the Deluxe convertible coupe. This marked the end of an era, for it would be the last time Ford offered a rumble seat.

The Markings on a Ford Model T Key

The common Model T key with the diamond shaped head was adopted by Ford in 1919. They were initially made of nickel silver until the switch was made to brass in 1926. On one side, they are marked with the Ford script and a maker’s mark like one of the following:

Briggs & Stratton

Clum Mfg.

King Lock


The original Ford technical drawings also list Culver Stearns as a manufacturer, but I do not recall having seen a key with that particular mark on it. The other side of the key is marked with the series number, and those numbers are 51 to 74 inclusive:

This number was also marked on the ignition switch found on the dash, a system that made stealing cars a simple task for thieves. This bit of advice was found in a 1920 issue of Motordom Magazine:

On every ignition switch is a small number which corresponds to the number on the handle of your switch key. Organized thieves carry a complete set of these keys. A passing glance at the switch on your car gives them the number of your lock. They walk down the street, select the proper key, walk back, step in the car and drive away. A small file will in a moment or two efface the tell-tale number on the switch.

If you are interested, the original Ford technical drawings and engineering release notes for these keys can be found in the digital collection on the Henry Ford website:

Drawing, “Ignition Switch Key,” Ford Model T, April 24, 1919 – The Henry Ford

Drawing, “Ignition Switch Key,” Ford Model T, December 19, 1919 – The Henry Ford

Drawing, “Ignition Switch Key,” Ford Model T, January 30, 1926 – The Henry Ford

Engineering Release Notes, Ignition Switch Key, Ford Model T, 1919-1926 – The Henry Ford

1926 Model T

First Six-Wheeled Bus in America

In 1920, Motordom Magazine reported on the first six-wheeled bus in America, a creation of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Resembling a trolley car, the bus was 31 feet long and seated 44 passengers. Power was supplied by a 6-cylinder Wisconsin engine which enabled speeds of only 10-12 mph. Goodyear transported around 20,000 of its Akron employees on a daily basis using 43 trucks and buses, including this one. The largest factory shift of the day, the one that occurred at 3:30, took around 40 minutes to complete.

Happy 2023! Like this bus, let’s hope it’s a . . .