A detailed line-up of T Fords from 1908 until 1927, about 30 Model A’s and a hall full of trucks and pick-ups; the Den Hartogh Ford Museum in the Netherlands holds a very special collection of mainly prewar Fords. And they can all be yours.
There is always something tragic about it when a collection, and even more a museum, is being liquidated.
After all, it is someones life’s work. A collector has spent many decades putting together a collection of classic cars and then, after many years, the cars are sold and spread all over the world.
The collection is gone, the cars that made it are now just individual classic cars.
But on the positive side, this means that these cars that have been carefully selected, restored, loved and maintained, will all find new loving and caring owners.
They will end up in new collections, maybe in new museums. And they will continue to tell the fascinating story of the early years of the auto industry.
All over Europe
Dutchman Piet den Hartogh was a collector. His father transported goods by boat, but in 1924 he bought his first Ford truck.
Piet was born two years later and at a young age he helped out in his father’s business.
By that time, the company was growing and using only Ford trucks. The cars undoubtedly made a big impression on the young boy.
When he took over his father’s business, it started to flourish. In 1956, Piet den Hartogh bought an old T Ford truck, just like the one his father had. It was the start of a lifelong passion for classic Fords.
The company grew into a fleet of around 1.000 tanker-trailers and more than 600 trucks, Den Hartogh trucks can be found on the roads all over Europe.
This helped Piet den Hartogh to find old Fords all over the continent.
Truckdrivers would spot old Fords on the way and would quickly write down the address or even make a snapshot.
This way Den Hartogh bought old Fords all over Europe. He also bought them on auctions, many of them in the USA.
It was during the 1970’s that he really became a prolific collector.
The cars that he bought were all refurbished or restored and put in a large barn. There, the collection was visible only to the Den Hartogh family and their friends.
In the 1990’s it was Piet’s wife who came up with the idea to start a museum and thus share the classic Ford collection with a large audience.
And so, in 1997, the Den Hartogh Ford Museum in the Dutch town of Hillegom started.
Model T line-up
Over the years the museum developed into a place of pilgrimage for Ford-enthusiasts from all over the world.
And for a reason, because the Den Hartogh Ford Museum developed into the largest collection of Fords in the world, and even made it to the Guinness Book of Records.
The collection begins with the Model A from 1903 and goes right through to 1947.
The highlight of the museum is the collection of Model T’s. There must be around 50 of them, the oldest from 1908, the youngest from 1927.
This line-up shows every change that was made to the Model T.
It shows all the updates of the shape of the body, from straight to round fenders, from brass to black painted radiator grill and all the minor technical changes that were made to the car over the years.
But this row of Model T’s also shows a wide variety in bodystyles.
The collection, of course, holds several coupe’s, runabouts, touring cars and four-door sedans, but there is, for instance, also a centre door sedan and several delivery vans.
Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands
The oldest Ford in the Hillegom collection is the 1903 Model A. It is the first model that Henry Ford built in his new Ford Motor Company that he started in Lansing, near Detroit, after going bust twice.
He produced a total of 670 of them.
This model A is the car that founder Piet den Hartogh drove at the opening of the museum in 1997.
At that moment he was accompanied by Prince Bernard of the Netherlands and Freddy Heineken.
Another remarkable car in the collection is the Ford K from 1906. This car has a six-cylinder engine, which was remarkable at a time when many cars had just two or maybe four cylinders.
In those days, engines were built using separate cylinders and this car is no different, the engine shows 6 separate cylinders in a row.
However, this caused quite some problems with the gaskets for all those cylinders, and the Ford K suffered from serious cooling problems. But Ford made progress and in 1908, the T had four cylinders all in one block.
In another hall, the collection of Model A’s and V8’s is exhibited. There must be around thirty of them, in all sorts of bodystyles.
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A remarkable one is the battered old model A Touring Car that was used as a taxi in the Cairo until the 1980’s.
Den Hartogh bought this car on the street, leaving the Egyptian taxidriver flabbergasted, but counting his money.
The car was shipped to Hillegom and has since then not been changed at all.
Another remarkable car is a V8 convertible from 1937 that was once owned by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. It was literally a royal car.
The third hall of the museum is dedicated to Ford trucks and pickups. Here are cars like the Al Capone liquor truck, the ice cream van and popcorn van.
But also there is a firetruck here that once belonged to the world-famous Heineken brewery in Amsterdam.
Piet den Hartogh and CEO Freddy Heineken of the Heineken brewery were close friends and Heineken took a special interest in his friend’s museum.
So a few years after the museum started, Heineken sponsored a new hall, which is since then named the Freddy Heineken Hall.
A few years ago, the brewery had an old Ford firetruck, they wanted to get rid of. Logically, they gave it to the museum in Hillegom.
Collection of Lincolns
Apart from Ford, the museum also pays tribute to the Lincoln brand with a collection of around 20 cars.
There is one Lincoln that gangster Al Capone used as his private car in the 1930’s in Chicago, but there is also an armoured 1932 Lincoln that president Franklin D. Roosevelt of the USA used as his official transportation.
On top of that, there are two twelve-cylinder Lincoln Zephyrs, a sedan and a coupé.
Being a Dutch museum, the Den Hartogh Ford Museum also has some special Dutch cars.
There are several cars, both Lincoln and Ford, with special bodywork by Dutch coachbuilders like Pennock and Van Rijswijk.
The youngest car of the museum, is a 1947 Lincoln that was originally sold and registered in the Netherlands.
This entire collection is now to be sold.
Auction house Bonhams will do the sale on June 23, 2018, in the museum in Hillegom, the Netherlands.
A few weeks before the sale, the catalogue will be available online. There are two viewing days scheduled a week before the auction.
More about the Den Hartogh Ford Museum and even a 3D-tour you can find here.