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MotorCities Automotive Themed Tours Now Available!

MotorCities is partnering with five Detroit-area tour operators to offer public tours related to the automotive or labor heritage of Michigan.  

Tour experiences available vary from walking or riding in a bus to pedaling a bicycle – all while visiting key automotive historical sites and learning the story of how the region put the world on wheels.

Antique Touring photo RESIZED 450    Wheelhouse Detroit Auto Heritage Tour DeQuindre Cut RESIZED AND CROPPED 2022

We are proud to offer the following experiences: 

City Institute

  • City Institute - MotorCities Auto Heritage New Center and Dearborn Walking Tours - On the New Center walking tour, guests will experience the past, present and future of the Detroit area, going back in time with a visit to the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant and speak with some of the innovators who now call these neighborhoods home. This tour is offered on June 22 and August 24. The Dearborn walking tours take place on May 25 and July 27 and provide the opportunity to learn how the past and present of this city are interwoven, get to know the people leading some exciting new projects and see the innovations and adaptations of this important city. For more information, please visit

City Tour Detroit

  • City Tour Detroit - Becoming the Motor City: A Timeline of Detroit’s Auto History Paul Vachon, author of the Reedy Press book of the same name, guides these tours offered in 2024 on June 22, July 21, Aug 24, and Sept 29. The 3-hour walking tours will also utilize the Detroit People Mover and QLine. For more information, please visit


  • Michigan Labor History Society – Detroit Labor History Tours This group offers a free two-hour bus tour in June that drives by the Ford Rouge plant, site of the 1932 Ford Hunger March and the 1937 “Battle of the Overpass” with stops of the Ford Piquette Plant Museum, the Motown Museum and the “Transcending” labor legacy landmark in Hart Plaza. A narrated one-mile walking tour of downtown Detroit is also available. For more information, please visit

Russell Brothers City Tours logo RESIZED

  • Russell Brothers City Tours – Get on board for a fun-filled tour of automotive landmarks in the city of Detroit. Your guide, Emmy-winning TV and radio personality Greg Russell, takes guests to places they may know and some sites they might not. If guests have particular sites they’d like to see, just let Greg know. The tours are informative, insightful and most importantly, fun! For more information, visit






Wheelhouse Detroit

  • Wheelhouse Detroit - Auto Heritage Bicycle Tour - On this 15-mile tour, guests will discover how Detroit became the center of industry. The tour takes in the Globe Building, Dequindre Cut, Packard Plant, the GM Factory Zero (formerly Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant), Milwaukee Junction, New Center (old GM Headquarters and Fisher Building), and TechTown, where we will learn how industry is evolving with advanced technology. Tour dates are June 23, July 28, August 25, September 22, and October 13. For more information, please visit


SWD AHG Msthd 5.7.20


Welcome to the Southwest Detroit Auto Heritage Guide, a resource chronicling the auto legacy built by the entrepreneurs, workers, businesses, and unions of Southwest Detroit. 

1 FIRMS SITES WelcomeVisit Firms & Sites for the stories of key Southwest Detroit businesses and places. The recommended order of viewing sites outlined there offers a chronological arc of the neighborhood’s auto legacy.


2 COMMUNITY HISTORY WelcomeCommunity History puts into context the trends and topics highlighted in the stories of individual firms and neighborhood sites.


3 LABOR ROOTS WelcomeLabor History posts explore the emergence of the United Auto Workers union in the late 1930s, its achievements, and the challenges it confronted in the decades that followed.


4 WE AUTO KNOW MORE WelcomeThe We “Auto” Know More page explains our interest in profiling other firms. We anticipate paying tribute to the ties of various ethnic communities to the auto industry while documenting the histories of Teamsters Local 299 and the United Steel Workers Local 1299.


5 BUILD THE GUIDE WelcomeThis section introduces you to those responsible for developing the Guide and outlines how you can help contribute to future Guide updates.


6 MAP WelcomeThe Map harnesses Google Map features to permit viewers to locate the sites that are featured in the Guide. The thumbnails featured there allow easy access to our site profiles while identifying other important cultural resources that highlight Motor City auto history.



Detroit Historical Society
Lincoln Motor Car Company / Ford Local 600 Women’s Auxiliary Workshop

Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection
DeSoto Plant

Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University
Michigan Central Station Passengers / GM Cadillac Sit Down Strike Pickets


Map Test

MotorCities National Heritage Area provides a resource for speakers on our organization and automotive history.

Russ Dore as Thomas Edison in Henry and Friends RESIZEDPresenter Russ Dore (center) as Thomas Edison with "Henry Ford" (left) and "Harvey Firestone" (right) in "Henry and Friends." See details on this presentation below.

MotorCities Overview presentation

This is a 20-30 minute presentation on MotorCities National Heritage Area. It covers the purpose, scope and activities of MotorCities. Presentations are given by staff or volunteer members of MotorCities. Presentations are suitable for service clubs such as libraries, senior centers, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, car enthusiast groups, Chambers of Commerce and other non-profit community organizations. There is no fee for these presentations. 

Presentations on Automotive History

These presentations are on automotive pioneers or cover the history of various automobile companies and labor movements. They are generally one hour in length and are often accompanied by visuals. The presenters  are automotive and labor historians and other experts. They are suitable for libraries, corporate events, union groups, museum programs, historical societies, senior centers, men’s and women’s clubs, car clubs, etc. There is a fee for these presentations. The following presentations are currently available:

Henry Ford: His Company & His Life -- Presenter: Russ Dore

A presentation with visuals discussing Henry Ford’s development of the Ford Motor Company, including the Model T, the assembly line and the $5 a day wage. It also covers his wife Clara, son Edsel and grandchildren.

Billy Durant: Founder of General Motors -- Presenter: Russ Dore

This presentation with visuals covers Durant’s successful life before entering the automobile industry, his creation of GM, his exit from the company and his attempts to begin again.

Walter Chrysler: His Company & His Life -- Presenter: Russ Dore

This presentation with visuals covers his early life in the locomotive business, his success at General Motors and the creation of Chrysler Corporation. His family, his personality and his love of the good life are all explored.

The Dodge Brothers: Their Company & Their Lives -- Presenter: Russ Dore
This presentation with visuals shows how these machinists went from being suppliers to Oldsmobile and Ford to creating an automobile company second only to Ford at one time. 

Studebaker, Packard, Nash & Hudson: How They Started & Where They Went -- Presenter: Russ Dore

This presentation with visuals shows how the Studebaker Brothers, the Packard Brothers, Charlie Nash and Joseph L. Hudson were instrumental in developing these major companies.

America's Classiest Cars: Auburn, Cord, Duesenburg & Stutz -- Presenter: Russ Dore

This presentation with visuals describes how the Eckhart Brothers, E.L. Cord, the Duesenberg Brothers and Harry Stutz built their American companies with a reputation for luxury.

Henry & Friends: Interacting with Ford, Edison & Harvey Firestone -- Presenter: Russ Dore

Be transported to 1925 and interact with these famous historical figures. Learn about their friendships, families and outstanding contributions to American industry. Although highly authentic, this show is also presented with a keen sense of humor.

Electric Cars: Past, Present & Future -- Presenter: Russ Dore

Learn how early electric cars outsold gas powered cars, and why they lost their lead. What caused the resurgence of electric vehicles and who are the modern pioneers in the field? What are the plans for the growth of electric cars? 

The Big 3 in 1925: interacting with Henry Ford, Billy Durant & Walter Chrysler -- Presenter: Russ Dore

Hear from them in 1925 about their most outstanding personal characteristics and experiences in starting their companies. Hear how they overcame early obstacles to launch the world’s greatest industry.

Mascots of Motion -- Presenter: Steve Purdy

Steve Purdy head shotSteve PurdyThis presentation features classic and collector car hood ornaments. The slide show accompanying the talk is a colorful exploration of about 50 of these images, from a Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Ecstasy” to a Stutz “Ra.” The talk generally takes about 45 minutes and can include a Q&A afterward.

An Overview of Ford Motor Company's History -- Presenter: Robert Kreipke

The Vagabonds (Henry Ford, Thomas Edison & Harvey Firestone) -- Presenter: Robert Kreipke

Ford and the Arsenal of Democracy -- Presenter: Robert Kreipke

Ford in Aviation -- Presenter: Robert Kreipke

The Lincoln Story -- Presenter: Robert Kreipke

The Henry Ford Trade School -- Presenter: Robert Kreipke

Ford Motor Company's Contributions to Personal Mobility -- Presenter: Robert Kreipke

Robert Kreipke is Ford Motor Company’s Corporate Historian Emeritus. Bob’s career at Ford included producing award-winning films and videotapes, production of live shows, and executive strategic planning. Bob has also authored three international books – Ford Motor Company, the First 100 Years, The Model T, and Faces of Henry Ford. Soon a fourth book will be for sale titled, The Model A.

Henry Ford: He Put the World on Wheels -- Presenter: Henry Ford Heritage Association

Henry Ford changed the world. He created and built an affordable car that affected society in ways that most could never have imagined. He embodied the American spirit of individualism and free enterprise in a way that no one else had ever before.  Mr. Ford aimed at the economic independence of the United States and he wanted to manufacture a vehicle from scratch, without depending on foreign trade. 

Clara Bryant Ford: The Believer -- Presenter: Henry Ford Heritage Association

Henry Ford was an automotive and business icon, but at home Clara was both head of the household and his most cherished advisor. Henry famously said, “The greatest day in my life is when I married Mrs. Ford.” In addition to her support of her husband’s ventures, Clara Bryant Ford was influential at pivotal points in the history of Ford Motor Company. Clara is credited with advocating for better healthcare for Ford workers and their families and convincing Henry to sign the first agreement between Ford and the UAW.  

Jeannette Gutierrez

Rosie the Riveter & Beyond: How Women Helped Win World War II -- Presenter: Jeannette Gutierrez

This informative presentation, accompanied by colorful slides, highlights women’s important contribution to Allied Victory in World War II. It covers the war production factories, and then goes beyond to delve into the many ways women did their part for Victory, including war production work (“Rosie the Riveters”), essential civilian workers (also “Rosies”, and Jeannette explains why), women in the armed forces, volunteer women, and celebrity influencers. The in-person presentation includes a display of WWII artifacts such as ration books, propaganda pamphlets, and a rivet gun. We owe so much to Rosie & her sisters, and this presentation covers it all. Presentation also available via Zoom. Jeannette, a journalist and retired advertising professional, speaks on behalf of the American Rosie the Riveter Association (ARRA).

R.E. Olds & Lansing -- Presenter: Michael Rodriguez        

This documentary tells the story of Ransom Eli Olds, known as R.E. Olds, and the city where automobiles were first mass-produced. A pioneer of the American automotive industry, both Oldsmobile and REO were named after R.E. Although folklore claims it was Henry Ford who created the auto manufacturing industry in Detroit, this documentary shows that R.E. Olds, in fact, did it first in Lansing. Using historical photographs and film, interviews, and live footage, the story unfolds of a visionary thinker who created the basic concept for the modern assembly line and a skilled labor force that transformed modern transportation.

From Carriages to Cars, Pontiac's Forgotten Industry and How It Gave Rise to GM Truck & Pontiac Motors -- Presenter: Mike West

This presentation traces the factors that enabled the growth of Pontiac's horse drawn vehicle production. Small blacksmith shops that once clustered in the city center were soon overshadowed by huge factories that shipped carriages and wagons from coast to coast. Utilizing new technologies and nurtured by civic leadership, Pontiac grew rapidly and became a leader in the horse drawn vehicle industry. This presentation also highlights the companies and individuals that led that growth and their rivalry with Flint to be number one. Then, the gasoline engine emerged, and Pontiac industry shifted its resources to begin making the Oakland, Welch and Rapid Truck. Over 30 motor vehicle manufacturers called Pontiac home before Billy Durant and his newly formed General Motors came to town and began buying key companies. Some of those that weren't drawn into GM became major suppliers of vehicle bodies for Henry Ford's new Model T factory in Highland Park. Most notable of these were GM Truck and GM's Pontiac Motors. 

Cool Cars: Unique Automobiles of the Detroit Historical Society Collection – Presenter: Jeremy Dimick

The Detroit Historical Society is caretaker of 60 automobiles. Most are rare – many are one-of-a-kind vehicles that exist in no other collection. These include the first closed salon Cadillac, the Scripps-Booth Bi-AutoGo, and a pre-production Ford Mustang prototype. Several were the personal cars of the Auto Barons, and some came to the Society with original engineering drawings. This presentation takes a tour of a very unique automobile collection. The presenter is Director of Collections for the Detroit Historical Society.

Roger Luksik head shot RESIZED 600Roger LuksikFamous Firsts: The History of the Packard Proving Grounds -- Presenter: Roger Luksik

The Packard Proving Grounds in Macomb County’s Shelby Township are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places for a reason – world records were accomplished there.  Using both vintage and current images, Luksik will explain the history of the proving grounds from opening day in June 1928 until its closing in 1956 and what the Packard Motor Car Foundation is doing to preserve its legacy for future generations. 

Roger Luksik joined the Packard Motor Car Foundation board in 2013 as president and held that position through 2018.  He began volunteering at the Packard Proving Grounds in 2001 and today is vice president and Committee Chair for Finance, Grant Writing and Accreditations.  He is a life member of the Packard Automobile Club and a 25+ year member of the Classic Car Club of America. Roger earned a B.S. and MBA - Finance degree from Wayne State University.  He owns two 1941 Packards, one a convertible sedan and a business coupe.

To schedule a presentation, contact the MotorCities Speakers Bureau using the form below.

For the MotorCities Overview presentations, we will coordinate with a volunteer speaker in your geographical area.

For the automotive and labor history presentations, we will provide you the contact information for the requested speaker(s). You may then contact them to discuss scheduling and fees.