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Ford Rotunda: 1953

Ford Rotunda: 1953

Dearborn, Michigan, 1953. "Ford 50th Anniversary vehicle display at the Ford Rotunda." On the turntable, the 1954 Mercury Monterey "Sun Valley" with its green-tinted plexiglas roof. Color transparency from the Ford Motor Co. photographic archive. View full size.

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Ford and Rotundas

Here in San Diego's Balboa Park our Air & Space Museum is housed in the beautiful Ford Building, built for the 1935 exposition our city hosted. It too was constructed in a rotunda shape sharing many design similarities to the one in the picture. Both are truly delightful celebrations of art deco architecture and captured the optimistic spirit of the Depression era expositions.

Toy Rotunda

A simple focus adjustment creates a true toy rotunda!

My first car

I thought this was the most beautiful car I had ever seen when my father and I went to the showroom in 1954. We bought a light blue one with blue and white tuck and roll seats. When I later learned to drive it was on this car. Driving down the road with my date seated next to me on the front seat, I felt like I was on top of the world.

Toy rotunda?

This photo makes it look like toy model! I've never seen it before, but I once had a toy gas station that would've looked right next door.

Quick Question

Curious about two of the emblems on the wall. I’m guessing the second from the left represents Ford Tractors, and it’s obviously Ford, Mercury and Lincoln in the next three spots. Does anybody happen to know what the emblems on the extreme right and extreme left represent?

[Ford Industrial Engines and Ford Trucks (lightning bolt through a gear). - Dave]

What does the sun do to that roof?

I wonder how long a plastic roof would last in the sun. UV rays tend to destroy plastic over time. I would expect that especially in those rather early days of making plastics, these roofs might not have held up so well.

Not a high point in American design

Mid-century modern indeed, sans the taste. Sorry MidcenturyMidwest, just my opinion, but the pastels are ugly now, prone to looking dirty. Yellow car on a pink carpet? Plexiglass roof -- how's that stand up? And in a couple years the Edsel. Boy, did they ever need Iococca. Better things were coming next decade.

[The Rotunda was an early 1930s design. And it's "Iacocca." - Dave]

Before Moonroofs

The similar, previous year's Mercury (convertible) was featured in MGM's "The Long, Long Trailer." Another view below; there was a snap-in opaque screen for too-sunny days. In the distance is Ford's new model with the plexiglas roof insert, the Crestline Skyliner. Love every aspect of the industrial design, including the colors. Ahhhh!

Ford Rotunda Christmas Show

The Rotunda was the home of a spectacular Christmas show that featured many beautiful holiday exhibits along with displays of the new cars. My favorite was the mechanical elves making toys in the workshop at the North Pole. Those were the days when we all anticipated three-wheeled cars with bubble tops just like the Jetsons. They also gave out Christmas books featuring the new car models. I was heartbroken when the Rotunda burned down in 1962 and I don't think I ever fully recovered.

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