Photos by Larry Edsall
Depending on the whimsy of the editors of your favorite dictionary, a “muster” can be a collection, a gathering together, a round up, a representative specimen, or an act of assembling for formal military inspection.
The annual Motor Muster held each Father’s Day weekend at Greenfield Village, the Disney-style small town that Henry Ford created by mustering historic buildings from around the country, would seem to fit all of those definitions.
Indeed, there’s even one area of the village reserved for military vehicles, provided, of course, that like all other vehicles on display, they were manufactured between model years 1933 and 1976. Greenfield Village stages a separate show — the annual Old Car Festival in September — for vehicles built from the beginning of the motor age through the 1932 model year.
And while the 800 or so vehicles on display over the course of two days may not be parked with quite military precision, they are aligned in chronological order so that, as you stroll through the village, you can see the evolution of what we drive, at least for the 43 model years represented.
Oh, and it’s not just cars, pickups and delivery vans that are represented. There are bicycles, motor scooters and motorcycles, plus the occasional motor home or camper. And they’re not just parked, but from time to time are invited in groups to parade past a reviewing stand while experts talk about them for the assembled spectators.
Each year there is a featured class. This year — no surprise — it was the Ford Mustang. Hey, this is Greenfield Village, which shares its plot of land with The Henry Ford museum and is pretty much surrounded by Ford’s engineering and design and administrative world headquarters, so celebrating the Mustang’s 50th birthday makes perfect sense.
However, the Motor Muster and Old Car Festival are not Ford-centric cars shows. Sure, Greenfield Village’s fleet of Model Ts circulates, giving visitors rides along the villages streets. But that happens every day here.
What doesn’t happen except two weekends each year are all manner of vehicles parked on the lawns and grassy medians adjacent to such structures as the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, Thomas Edison’s laboratory, George Washington Carver’s cabin and, speaking of dictionaries, the home of Noah Webster.