The Cars That Made America (TV Mini-Series 2017– ) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
10 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
6/10
Good enough, if you don't know cars or Detroit
zoombroom8618 August 2017
Overall, the series did a fairly decent job of laying out the story of the automobile in America, especially for viewers who know little about the car industry and simply want to be entertained. However, for car buffs and history fans anticipating an informed six-hour road trip through time, the series fell into the familiar traps of most docudramas: cheesy re-creations, an oversimplified and tabloid-style story line, and a host of inaccuracies. The series seems to me to have been rushed into production. Most disappointing was the failure---for reasons of either time or budget, or both---to take advantage of the treasure trove of archival film footage and sound recordings available at museums, libraries, and labor and automobile archives in the Detroit area. Whatever footage was used appears to have been pulled directly off a VHS copy of some old documentary.

The lineup of historians, biographers, and journalists added context to what was being dramatized. But in addition to these talking heads (and the amiable NASCAR drivers obviously trotted out for their "star" value), it would have been nice to hear from "witnesses" with first-hand or family knowledge of some of the personalities and events described. It's not like these people don't exist, especially in the Detroit area. With a little digging, the producers could have found retired factory workers, designers, executives, union organizers, etc., or their children and grand-children, as well as the offspring of auto pioneers. It also would have been a treat to see more of the actual Motor City (many of the sites associated with the story still exist) instead of whatever stand-ins in Texas and New York were used. The real homes of Henry and Edsel Ford are still around, for example, as are many factories and other historic sites.

I don't know if Car Week is now "a thing" on History Channel, or if a second edition of "The Cars That Made America" is planned. If there is a follow-up series, I'd like to see it concentrate on some of the many characters and cars either entirely left out of the first series or given short shrift, such as Ransom Olds, Henry Kaiser, Studebaker, Nash, Harley Earl and the Corvette, etc. And I hope they spend a few bucks on a reliable researcher in Detroit.
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
Not as good as I expected
buicks-0982716 August 2017
Ed Cole, the head of Chevy driving a 56 Mercury and taking Alfred Sloan for a ride in it. Really? Who authenticated the use of the correct cars in this program? Certainly no one that knows anything. Henry Ford II riding in a Packard? Can't imagine he would've ever done that given his family history. The characters weren't always believable because they didn't look like the real people. Walter Chrysler, Henry Ford, Alfred Sloan, etc. The storyline itself was good. Repeating 2-3 minutes of the tail end of the show previous to a commercial or from the previous evening is a pure waste and monotonous. Something another auto-related channel is famous for. 44 years in the auto hobby. If nothing else make sure you have the correct brand of cars when you portray them with specific people that you identify them with. Ask experts. Don't guess!
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Another History Channel Inaccuracy
TheMovieSmith19 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This past week History Channel held "Car Week". A week dedicated to history specials and shows about cars. At first I was excited to see an actual history program on the "History Channel" (instead of Pawn Stars, American Pickers, etc-which all deal loosely with history and since you know...the name should actually reflect what is on the network), however I was soon disappointed. (Side note: It's a shame that with all the real history related programming History Channel has in their library they failed to air any of it during an entire week. I could think of at least four or five car related episodes of "Modern marvels" alone. But I digress.) This mini-series, just as pointed out by reviewers, is riddled with inaccuracies and full of nothing but half truths that were written and arranged in a way to satisfy their (mostly liberal) narrative. Case in point, like mostly everyone else, the series goes out of it's way to show how Henry Ford 'invented' the assembly line. Utterly false since it was invented and patented by Ransom Olds (of Oldsmobile fame) in 1901 before Ford had even been removed from his second car company. Speaking of Ransom Olds; why was he only essentially mentioned in passing at a time when he had the largest American car company (if not the world)? Ford did adopt the assembly line and was able to improve it for greater efficiency and success but it is clearly misleading. Speaking of topics only mentioned in passing, how can a series called "The Cars That Made America" not feature more than a blurb about the ultimate American car: The Corvette? For that matter, it is beyond me how a series that features the (partial) biographies of some of the world's greatest car engineers and designers not mention the Corvette's creator (and ultimate concept car designer) Harley Earl even once. It looks like this series was commissioned by people with a serious agenda against some of the greatest American Classics ever (I didn't hear the word Thunderbird once either). Instead we got a devoted story line to the DeLorean, which wasn't even an American car. I know it was necessary to end the DeLorean story line, but that couldn't have been in passing and devote some time to the issues I listed above. All in all, if you are interested in early American car history you'd be better served by reading up on it or finding other programming that might be less flashy but more accurate. The series turned into nothing more than a failed attempt at history (or at least their revisionist version of history) and a prime example of how much the History Channel has changed (for the worse) in the past few years.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
Lost potential
benchseat8 July 2018
I was, as a gearhead of over 50 years, hoping this would be a well done and informative series. I was extremely disappointed. The portrayals were not as accurate as one would expect from the History Channel. The narrator was lackluster in his delivery. The one thing that was like fingernails on the chalkboard was the cars shown. Whoever made the decision on what to use should never work again. A 1956 Mercury hardtop was supposed to be a Chevrolet "Hot Rod"? Many other glaring errors were made as well. If you can't strive for accuracy why bother. If they thought nobody would notice, they were wrong.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Such a great summary of the American car industry
hihellonotme21 August 2017
Car people of all kinds will tell you how sad they are to see their favorite cars left out of this show, etc. But from a high level, this series took the progression of "the big 3" and what those players did in the industry. No, there is no real mention of the corvette, but so what? The corvette started out as an under powered V-6 and has continually dwarfed in comparison throughout American Muscle's innovation.

This show isn't a show full of flash and popularity. It is a raw look at the car business in Detroit, an extremely important area for our country for a majority of the 1900's and a true driver for America's development as a super power. Is the acting great? not really, and its no dramatic movie. This is a true History channel show at its best.

Being a huge fan of the Men that Built America, this show was informative, and was better than expected. Bravo.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
A seriously-flawed documentary.
ckhyde20 August 2017
Much of this "documentary" was accurate and several of the "talking heads," especially Bob Casey, are well-informed and trustworthy commentators, although I have never heard of several of them, including the generic "historians."

The coverage of the Dodge brothers, whose history I know better than anyone, is seriously incomplete and flawed. One example - When the Dodge brothers sold their shares of the Ford Motor Company to Henry Ford, they received $25 million for their (10%) share of Ford stock. They were not "hoodwinked" into taking less than the true value of the shares. The documentary refers to the first Dodge Brothers car as the "Model 30," which I have never seen before. There were several "Model 30" cars in the early auto industry, including one from Hudson and another from Chalmers. In those cases, the model name refers to the engine horsepower. The first Dodge Brothers car had a 35-horsepower motor.

To my knowledge, nobody ever referred to Henry Ford II as "Hank." I cannot imagine where this came from. He was called "Henry" by his closest associates and (outside of his hearing) "the Deuce," but never "Hank."

Thirdly (I could make another dozen criticisms), I was surprised that there was no mention of Chrysler's "Forward Look" cars of the 1950s, which at least briefly made Chrysler the industry's styling leader.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Part I
voltek-5948614 August 2017
Disappointed at the lack of technical accuracy. Being a photographer, I noticed right away that turn of the century photographers were using 50's camera's and flash bulbs. flash bulbs were not invented until 1926. You see flash bulb use throughout the episode. Cameras of the day were sheet film, box, and bellows. Only professional photographers used flash pans. Also, what about the electric cars? Henry Ford's wife only drove electric. Actors are overdressed and are guilty of over acting. Assembly line shots are a laugh.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Disjointed poorly edited soap opera (warning: contains spoilers)
Charger-254 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The writers and editors of this boring mundane and biased presentation of what was billed as the story of the impact of the automobile on America wound up with an unbalanced soap opera largely devoted to the story of the infighting within Ford Motor Company. The program's stated objective consisted of some historic footage of the Interstate Highway System. The overly extensive treatment of the DeLorean whose relevance to the subject matter was never really explained should have been severely shortened and replaced with the history of Chrysler, which was given short shrift throughout. If you're going to do a program which is actually the story of automobile companies as opposed to the history of the automobile, how do you fail to mention Virgil Exner and the Chryslers of the 50's while making the centerpiece of automotive design the Edsel? And how do you cover muscle cars without once mentioning the 426 Hemi? And how many scenes do we need of Ford executives firing pistols? Don't bother with this pointless exercise in tabloid journalism which is an insult to the viewer.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Episodes one and two are great and worth a watch
spdtalentthrill4 September 2018
There should be four episodes, the 30s late 40s, 50s were completed skipped and the show is more a story of the people who built companies than the vehicles from them.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Nice overview of cars and their impact on society
drjgardner26 August 2017
This series is a nice overview of the development of the car industry and its impact on society, which is obvious from the name of the series (The Cars That Made America"). It's not a biography of any of the major players, although they certainly are there, warts and all. Nor is it a documentary on cars per se. While it does give us lots of biographic details and lots of engineering drawings, etc. the focus of the series is on how cars changed the way we live. The producers succeed admirably.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed