Exploring the automotive history of Flint

The Sloan Museum, the Buick Automotive Gallery, and Flint's historic Carriage Town

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Billy Durant and J. Dallas Dort watch over Flint's Carriage Town

FLINT, Mich. - Last week, I went to The Henry Ford Museum and explored automotive history. This week, I took a trip north to find even more.

Flint is the birthplace of General Motors and the Flint Sit-Down Strike. These two things not only are of large importance in the automotive world, but they are significant in world history.

I took a day to explore three places: the Sloan Museum, the Buick Automotive Gallery, and Carriage Town.

The Sloan Museum is a place I've been to a number of times but all when I was young and at a school field trip. I certainly wasn't old enough to appreciate the displays and the hard work that goes on to maintain such a place.

The first exhibit I came to was the Packard Motor Company display entitled "Ask the Man that Owns One."

Headquartered in Detroit, Packard made a name for itself as a luxury vehicle maker. Not only does the display have immaculate Packards, but they give you the history behind it.

In 1920, the lowest priced Packard cost $5,500, the lowest priced Ford cost $440, and the average price of a new home cost $8,094. It's safe to say I couldn't have afforded to be a Packard owner. This exhibit runs from now until Sept. 8.

The rest of the Sloan Museum is chock full of Flint and automotive history. I was particularly taken in by the Flint Sit-Down Strike displays.

In a world full of Occupy [insert everything and anything here], this was the original.

Workers stayed in General Motors Fisher Body Plant Number One for 44 days fighting for better working conditions and the right to unionize.

The National Guard was called, workers were bloodied and battered, and the Women's Emergency Brigade stood in front of the building to protect workers and smashed windows to help with building ventilation. This was a huge moment in American history & I can only imagine how a story like this would be covered in the press today.

The next stop was the Buick Automotive Gallery.

It's part of the Sloan Museum and entry into the museum will also get you into the gallery. Right now, the exhibit is "Driving Dream Machines" and it features muscle cars from the 1968 Plymouth Fury Michigan State Police to the 2006 Pontiac GTO RA6.  

This exhibit is ending July 14 but July 20 will kick off "Corvettes: 0-60".

My favorite classic ride was the MSP Plymouth Fury and we'll have plenty more from this gallery soon.

My last stop was Carriage Town. It's the area just north of downtown Flint & is the home to Durant-Dort Carriage Factory No. 1 and the Durant-Dort Carriage Company Office.

GM recently signed an agreement to purchase Factory No. 1 and curate the Company Office. Standing nearby are two bronze statues of Billy Durant & J. Dallas Dort watching over the two buildings. This area helped start an automotive revolution and is worth a visit.

The price for hours of entertainment, classic cars, and lots of history? Just $9. If you'd like more information, visit sloanlongway.org and geneseehistory.org.

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