History of Ford CarsOur history of Ford cars begins in 1893 when Henry Ford builds his first working gasoline engine, and the starts building his first vehicle.
On June 4, 1896 Ford drives his two-cyclinder "Quadricycle" in Detroit.
Three years later Ford finishes his second Quadricycle.
In 1899 Henry Ford left his employment with Edison to help organize the Detroit Automobile Company. Henry Ford leaves his job with the Edison Company and was named superintendent. Serious production never got underway and the company closed in 1900.
In Novenber of 1901 the backers formed a new company named the Henry Ford Company but again, production never got underway. By March of 1902, the disgruntled investors brought in a consultant by the name of Henry Leland. This infuriated Ford to the point that he abruptly resigned, taking a settlement of $900 and a promise by the main stockholders to change the name of the company not to use the Ford name henceforth. Under Mr. Lelands guidence the company was renamed the company to Cadillac and produced its first car in 1903.
In 1903, automobiles were out of reach for most Americans, They were prohibitive in cost and needed constant mechanical attention. Building an automobile was only half of Henry Ford's ambition; building it inexpensively was the other half.
The 1903 Ford Model A, the first production car of the newly-formed Ford Motor Company, was an immediate success, due in part to its affordable price of $850.00. The Ford Motor Company sold its first car, a Model A, on July 20, 1903 to a Detroit physician.
Production of the 1903 Model A (a model designation that would be used again in 1928) numbered 1,708. There were several colors from which to choose and the vehicle was easy to operate.
The tonneau, or back seat attachment, could be romoved by it owner, giving the advantage of owning one vehicle with three body styles: a roadster, utility vehicle, and a family car. Passengers entered the rear compartment through a back door and could either sit facing forward or to the side.
Model A production continued into early 1904 when work started on the Model B.
In 1909 Ford introduces the Ford Model T which would remain in production until 1927 by which time over fifteen million would have been made.
Henry Ford changed the world when he introduced the Model T. This remarkable vehicle was standardized and mass-produced. The price of a Model T would decrease annually, allowing more and more people to afford an automobile. At one point in the early 20th-century, more than half of all automobiles in America were Model T Fords.
In between the Quadricycle and the Model T, Ford introduced a series of cars with letter designations. The "Ford alphabet" includes the following vehicles:
- 1903 Model A
- 1904 Model B
- 1905 Model C
- 1906 Model F
- 1906 Model N
- 1907 Model R
- 1908 Model K
- 1908 Model S
- 1909 Model T
- 1928 Model A
- 1932 Model B
The 1909 Ford Model T vehicles changed from a two-pedal system to a three-pedal system in mid-1909. The three pedals included the brake, clutch, and reverse, a system that continued until Model T production ended in 1927.
In 1912 opens a manufacturing plant in England.
In 1912, Ford started the first conveyor line ever used in automobile history to assemble magnetos. Soon engines were assembled on conveyors and by 1913, the entire vehicle was produced in this manner.
Prior to this, all Model T car were hand painted in many available colors. However, the assembly lines could turn out more cars in a day than the painters could finish in a month. Consequently, a quick-drying Japan enamel was sprayed on the bodies with a nozzle resembling a garden hose sprinkler. Frames, fenders, wheels, and smaller parts were dipped. It was this practical necessity that caused Henry Ford to facetiously remark, "You can have any color you want as long as it is black!" From then until 1926, black was the only color produced by Ford. Thankfully, new fast-drying pyroxlin lacquers became available and color choices were re-instituted.
In 1915 Ford reached a monumental milestone with the production of its one-millionth Model T. This was also the first year that Ford cars first came with factory equipped electric lights.
1919 - Edsel Ford, the only child of Henry Ford, is names President of the Ford Motor Company.
1922 - Ford takes over the failing Lincoln Motor Car Company, started by Henry Leland.
By 1926, Ford Model TT truck popularity had captured 51 percent of the America truck market. All types of bodies were being fitted to the Model TT chassis, including ambulances, buses, and fire engines.
1927 - In 1927 production of the Model T ends after over fifteen million had been made. Henry Ford closed his plant for seven months to switch production to the Model A. The new design was hastily implemented in secrecy to boost the lagging sales figures.
When the Model A was launched on December 2, 1927, it was an immediate success and Ford would sell more than five million Model A vehicles by the time production ceased in 1932.
1928 - In 1928 production of the Model A begins.
1929 - In 1929, the Ford payroll reached a record $300 million annually. In December, 1929, Ford announced $7.00 per day as the minimum wage in their plants.
Production of the one-millionth Model A was completed on February 4, 1929. The second-millionth was built on July 24th, the same year.
1930 - Ford introduces a revised Model A with a taller hood-to-body lines and smaller balloon tires.
Development of the Ford V-8 begins in secret.
1931 - Ford?s production plummets to 615,455 allowing Chevrolet to become first in the US.
In April 1931, Ford modernized its Fordor Sedan with a slant winshield. The new model was called a Type 160-C. With 1931 being the last year of production for all Model A's, it was strange that Ford would upgrade a traditional model in mid-year. Less than 3,500 Type 160-C cars were built and their scarcity makes them second only to the Town Sedans as the rarest Model A's.
There was very little structural wood in the 160 type bodies. With the exception of the front header and some of the top ribs, wood is used only for tack strips. The seats are deep-cushioned brown mohair. The metal window frames, garnish moldings, and the dashboard were finished in a mahogany woodgraining paint.
The Convertible Sedan Model 400-A was introduced in May, 1931, and was a unique new design. It was aimed at those who needed a formal car for business, but wanted a more sporty car on weekends. It was one of several special DeLuxe models added to the line to combat increasing competition.
With its slanting windshield, the convertible Sedan had an attractive appearance and resembled an open Phaeton with its top down or a sedan with it up. Bodies were built by sub-contractors including Briggs and Murray.
The upper body was a new development in convertible car construction for that era. A rigid top rail extended from the pillar over the door and quarter-windows down to the molding. It was hoped this added structure would eliminate the rattles common to other convertible designs. It was not entirely successful.
Both door quarter-windows had roll-up mechanisms. Painted top panles on the radiator shell were introduced on this model and were body-color only. Ford built 4,864 Convertible Sedans from May through December, 1931, when all Model A production ended.
1932 - Production of the Model A ends and is replaced by the new V8 powered model.
The Ford Model B cars were produced just in 1932. The body was a redesigned Model A on the new chassis the would be used on the V-8 Model 18 that would be introduced in March of 1932. The Model B cars all had the same 4-cylinder engine used in the previous Fords but with improved performance at 50 horsepower. Approximately 150,000 Model B's were built in 1932, its only year of production.
In 1932 the Ford Model 18 V-8 Roadster cost $460 in basic trim and $500 in deluxe trim. A rumble seat was available for an additional $25.
1953 - Ford production is 1,247,542, only 100,000 fewer than Chevrolet. Ford decided to put on a sales blitz to become the leading producers of cars in America. Many belive the pricing pressure generated by Ford's aggresive program led to the demise of several makers including Nash, Hudson, Packard, and Kaiser-Frazer.
Ford celebrates its 50th Aniversary. All 1953 Fords had special anniversary emblems on the steering wheel.
Ford's venerable flathead V-8 has its final season.
The 1953 Ford Crestline Sunliner is selected to be the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500 race.
Ford Motor Company introduced its new Edsel Division in the fall 0f 1957 with great fanfare, and the expectation of selling over 200,000 vehicles during its first model year. The buyers never materialized, and Edsel ended 1958 with a production run of only 63,000 cars.
1957 saw the introduction of completely restyled Ford cars bearing little resemblance to earlier models. The big news, though, was the new Skyliner with an all steel hardtop that was capable of changing into an open convertible at the touch of a button. An automatic folding mechanism retracted the top into the rear deck. Ford claims that the prototype had completed over 10,000 test-cycles without failure, but cautiously provided a manual overide so that if the top did catch half way, it could be cranked down.
The biggest headache with the Retractable wasn't the top, but the limited luggage space. The top mechanism occupied both sides of the trunk and the top itself took considerable space. A small storage bin to keep the luggage out of the machinery was supplied measuring only 24x30x15 inches but was virtually useless because it sat in the center, a full 20 inches from either fender side. Because of the rear-hinged deck lid, all luggage had to be put in from the sides. But that was not as bad as trying to lift the spare tire out of its space beneath the luggage bin. This required climbing into the trunk after it.
Except for the Thunderbird, the Retractable was the most expensive Ford in 1957 with a base price of $2,942. Even at this price, 20,766 Ford Retractables were produced in 1957. Production ceased in 1959.
1968 - Ford merges its British and German Divisions to form Ford of Europe.
1987 - Ford purchases the Aston Martin company from the British.
1988 - Ford purchases The Jaguar company from the British.