MotorCities National Heritage Area

MotorCities Automotive Themed Tours Now Available!

MotorCities is partnering with five Detroit-area tour operators (and one in Lansing, too!) to offer public tours related to the automotive or labor heritage of Michigan.  

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

We are proud to offer the following experiences:

Antique Touring Company
ntique Touring Company - From Tinkerers to Titans Tour  
Antique Touring photo RESIZED 450Hop in a Ford Model A and explore the "coming of age" story of the automobile during the first decades of the 20th Century from the vantage point of Detroit’s Woodward Corridor. Tours are offered every day, except Mondays, May 1 through November 1. Additional information can be found on their website:
City Institute
City Institute
 - MotorCities Auto Heritage New Center, Pontiac 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 into the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant and speak with some of the innovators who now call these neighborhoods home. The New Center tours are offered monthly May through September. New for 2022 are one-time walking tours of downtown Pontiac and Dearborn. For more information, please visit

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Magical Michigan Tours - Henry Ford: From Farm to Factory Tour

Learn about the life of Henry Ford--an auto pioneer and titan of industry is known as inventor of the Quadricycle, Model T, and the moving assembly line. This bus tour connects visitors to actual historic sites that reveal Henry Ford’s life from his farming roots to becoming an industrial magnate. Bringing Ford’s story alive, while visiting locations important to his story, will give tour-goers a personal view of his life and the impact the introduction of the Model T automobile and how it revolutionized transportation and American industry. This tour not only covers Mr. Ford’s greatest achievements, but it will also cover some of his greatest challenges. The perspective presented in the tour will also look at the impact he had on society in the 20th century. For more information, visit

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Russell Brothers City Tours – Customized Automotive History 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! Russell Brothers City Tours also offers virtual tours online. Guests can visit via their computers or other devices some of the fun and historical places from Detroit’s automotive history.






Wheelhouse Detroit

Wheelhouse Detroit - Auto Heritage Bicycle Tour 
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n 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 Detroit-Hamtramck (Poletown) 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 available seasonally one day each month. For more information, please visit

GLAD Tours logo

GLAD Tours - REO Town Walking Tour

Enjoy a walking tour of REO Town with our Lansing MotorCities tour operator partner, GLAD Tours. Tickets are available for $10. Before there was a REO Town, there was REO City. Take a walk down the main drag with GLAD Tours and see where Ransom Eli Olds started the auto industry. Tours are available by appointment by clicking here:


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.

With everyone stuck at home, we've launched a new virtual tour program featuring members of our Speakers Bureau. For more information on MotorCities At Home, click here

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.  

Alison Beatty

Rosie the Riveter -- Presenter: Alison Beatty

This presentation covers the extraordinary role that women played in bringing victory to Allied forces in World War Two. It chronicles the circumstances that led to rise of the mighty Willow Run bomber plant in Ypsilanti, where Ford Motor Company was able to produce thousands of four-engine B-24 Liberator bombers at the almost unfathomable rate of one airplane every 55 minutes. This previously unheard of industrial accomplishment would have been impossible without the help of tens of thousands of women who had never previously set foot on a factory floor. The presentation explores how women mastered factory skills and became known as the “Rosie the Riveters” who would forevermore inspire passion and perseverance in men and women alike. It includes rare archival photographs of women working at Willow Run and details how women struggled, sacrificed, and ultimately triumphed in this labor of love to exceed production quotas, bring victory to the Allies, and earn respect in the workplace. The presentation ends with an insightful look at why Rosie the Riveter has become such a powerful symbol and how Yankee Air Museum is renovating the Willow Run bomber plant to be a permanent home to the Rosie the Riveter legacy, right here in the great state of Michigan.

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.