During the recent Fourth of July weekend, Disney+ debuted the original-cast performance of the historic Broadway musical, Hamilton. To help promote the event, and its parent company, ESPN’s Sports Center offered up one of its 10-best segments, this one featuring the 10-best Hamiltons.
The list didn’t include everyone’s favorite Hamilton, the $10 bill, but it did include two racing drivers, Bobby Hamilton of NASCAR and F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, and was topped at No. 1 by Olympic gold-medalist figure skater Scott Hamilton.
My first response was, “What! No Hamilton Burger, Perry Mason’s favorite courtroom opponent?” But then I thought about the exercise and wondered if there was a way to twist it for use here, and thus this list of my 10 favorite Fords.
Yes, I considered 10-favorite Chevrolets and some other automotive brands, but to get variety desired, it seemed was quickest and, yes, easiest to focus on Fords. So, with apologies to Henry Ford II, Francis Ford Coppola, Ford Frick, President Gerald Ford, and Harrison Ford, here’s my list:
10. The Model A — Yes, the Model T was the car that put the world on wheels, but if you’ve driven both the T and the A, you know that the A is the way to go. No crank starter. No complicated set of levers. Standard pedals and shifting.
9. Tennessee Ernie Ford — Hey, we never said this was going to be a list only of Ford vehicles. I remember sitting at my grandparents’ home as they watched this “pea-pickin’ good” entertainer. Besides, in writing this, I discovered that Tennessee Ernie studied classical music at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, a school my father attended before he switched to the University of Cincinnati’s pharmacy college.
8. Flathead Ford — In 1932 Ford introduced its “flathead” V8 engine, which would become the favorite automotive powerplant for seemingly everyone from Clyde Barrow of Bonnie and Clyde infamy to the post-war Southern California dry lakes hot rodders.
7. John Ford — Four-time winner of the Academy Award for best director and famed for movies ranging from The Grapes of Wrath to Stagecoach, and known for framing actors against dramatic and harsh terrain.
6. Ford F-150 — If you are less than 40 years ago, the Ford F-150 pickup truck has been the best-selling automotive appliance in the United States for as long as you’ve been alive, and not only is a mainstay for people working in the trades and on ranches, but a go-to vehicle for people pulling campers and boats and horse trailers and, in the form of the Raptor, an off-pavement hot rod.
5. Whitey Ford — Record-setting and Hall of Fame left-handed baseball pitcher for the New York Yankees in the 1950s and ’60s, when the Yankees won the World Series 6 times.
4. Edsel — We’re not referring here to the automotive failure of the 1950s but to the people named Edsel Ford. The first was Henry and Clara Ford’s son, Edsel, who never seemed to please his father but who brought style and the Lincoln to the Ford Motor Company. And then there was Edsel Ford II, great-grandson on Henry, grandson of Edsel, son of Henry II. Edsel was at Le Mans with his father when the Ford GT beat Ferrari and ever since he has been championed Ford’s continuing participation in auto racing.
3. Henry Ford — No, not the founder of the company, but the museum that bears his name. Henry Ford, the man, may not have been very likable, but he collected historic American artifacts and created a museum and, in fact, an entire village, Greenfield Village, that has shared American history with generations of visitors. Greenfield Village also hosts, well, in non-pandemic years, two wonderful car shows.
2. Clara Ford — Bertha Benz gets lots of credit for her role in the early development of the motorcar, but Clara Ford is overlooked. She allowed her kitchen to be used as a workshop as Henry, with her help, tested his first engine — and on Christmas Eve 1893. In her biography, Clara: Mrs. Henry Ford, we learn of her endurance in regard to her husband’s various missteps.
1. Ford Mustang — Yes, the GT40 won at Le Mans, but it was the Mustang that revolutionized American automotive tastes in the 1960s, created a new generation of car enthusiasts, and that continues to be popular not only with new-car buyers but with car collectors.