Wednesday, February 27, 2013

1907 Ford Model T

#1 - The Car of the Century

Ford T (1908-1927)

Between its debut in 1908 and its final production in 1927, more than 15 million Model T’s, the runaway best-seller of its time, were manufactured. As the world’s first genuinely mass-produced car, the Model T, more than any other single car, made the automobile affordable and, with its simple mechanics, provided a car for the masses; and it was not only in the U.S. that it exerted such influence.

1911 Model T Lineup Ad

1911 Model T Roadster

1912 Model T

Indeed, automotive history is not complete without mention of the Model T. The Model T implemented planetary gear transmission, enabling speed control and shifting of gears by operation of the pedal. This was a breakthrough that rivals the modern automatic transmission in importance. It was infinitely easier to handle than the "cone clutch" systems that caused many problems during that period. Until 1909, a two-pedal system was used, with a lever control for forward and reverse. The Model T introduced a three-pedal system; it had two forward gears with the reverse gear being engaged by the middle pedal.

1912 Model T

1919 Model T

Ford Model T Touring, 1919

Ford Model T Runabout 1922

Ford Model T Coupe 1926

Uh-oh. Here comes trouble. Let's stipulate that the Model T did everything that the history books say: It put America on wheels, supercharged the nation's economy and transformed the landscape in ways unimagined when the first Tin Lizzy rolled out of the factory. Well, that's just the problem, isn't it? The Model T — whose mass production technique was the work of engineer William C. Klann, who had visited a slaughterhouse's "disassembly line" — conferred to Americans the notion of automobility as something akin to natural law, a right endowed by our Creator. A century later, the consequences of putting every living soul on gas-powered wheels are piling up, from the air over our cities to the sand under our soldiers' boots. And by the way, with its blacksmithed body panels and crude instruments, the Model T was a piece of junk, the Yugo of its day.

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