One of the largest (5th largest to be exact) automakers of all time is none other than Ford Motor Company. Ford Motor Company kicked off in October of 1903 when Henry Ford, of Dearborn Michigan successfully built the first Model T engine. Henry Ford was an innovator, and a smart young man that wanted to learn all he could about engines and how they worked. Henry left his home at the age of 16 to pursue his dreams of engine building, and would find himself moving several times throughout his young life to soak up as much information as he could. “Innovators change things. They take new ideas, sometimes their own, sometimes other people’s, and develop and promote those ideas until they become an accepted part of daily life. Innovation requires self –confidence, a taste for taking risks, leadership ability and a vision of what the future should be. Henry Ford had all these characteristics, but it took him many years to develop all of them fully.” (“The Innovator and Ford Motor Company”)
Ford Motor Company was built upon a revolutionary vision: “the manufacture of an inexpensive automobile made by skilled workers who earn steady wages.” (“Henry Ford Biography”) It was 1914, the time of the great depression, and the wages that were offered by the Ford Motor Company were double that of the existing pay for other factory workers. Ford Motor Company offered $5.00 a day for an 8 hour shift (instead of half the pay and 9 hour shifts), with the hopes that better wages would keep his best workers loyal to his company. Five dollars doesn’t sound like much now, but back then it had 10,000 people lined up around the block to hopefully get a chance at landing a job with Ford Motor Company. Simultaneously Ford introduced the moving assembly line with the goal that the Model T’s would be easier to build, take less time to build (what did take 12.5 hours, now took 1.5 hours), be simple to drive, and cheaper to repair. Unfortunately though, the one drawback to having the moving assembly line was that it was hard work, and that lead to a high turnover of employees.
Ford was working hard, and his success showed in his numbers. He was able to sell over 15 million Model T’s, and he wasn’t done yet. In 1917 Ford introduced the first ever Model TT – A Truck! The Model TT was based on the earlier car, the Model T, but had a reinforced chassis and rear axle. While the truck would have sold by itself, Ford knew he needed help with design and style. So, in 1919 Ford brought on his wife, Clara Ford, and son, Edsel Ford as co owners of Ford Motor Company. Edsel had a great talent in Art, and started helping his dad with the style of the vehicles. By 1927 over 40,000 1-ton Model TT’s had been built in the various cab and body combinations, but in 1928 it was replaced by the 1.5 ton Model AA. Although Ford had new ideas, so did his competition. Companies such as Chevrolet, and Plymouth were becoming large competitors, and it was becoming harder and harder for Ford to keep up, so Ford replaced the Model A with a new line of cars that featured V-8 Engines.
It wasn’t enough to have new ideas anymore, now one must have creative design to go with the engine, and since Ford finally had help with the design of his vehicles, it wasn’t too long before Ford Motor Company helped design the Original Lincoln Continental. The car was beautiful, and he was so impressed with his work, that he eventually purchased the Lincoln Motor Company.
Ford Motor Company was doing fabulous! Cars were zooming off the lots, and Ford was doing what he loved. So why not move up, and by up – I mean the sky. In 1925 Ford started dabbling in the building of an air plane. When finished with the plane, they called it the “Tin Goose” in reference to the Model T’s nickname the “Tin Lizzie”. This plane was used by early commercial airlines, and when combined with reputation, the assembly line technique, and the many investors in Ford Airlines, this plane helped begin the creation of commercial airline industry.
With Competition came the demand to make something better. After 6 months of closed doors, perfecting their design, and doing some retooling of the factories, that something better came just a couple of years later with the Model A. Despite the great depression, 5 million of the Model A’s were sold, and Ford was just as eager to start his next big project. It took him a few years, but with some help, Ford finally came out with the V-8 flat head engine. This engine was very popular then, and still is to this day to most hot-rodders. Unfortunately though, not many years later, Henry Ford passed away on April 7, 1947. His legacy lives on still today.
Over the next several decades Ford Motor Company came out with many more new designs such as; The F Series line, the “All American Car”, The Thunderbird, The Edsel (after Edsel Ford), The Ford Mustang, The GT 40 MK, new lap and shoulder bolts, the Ford Fiesta, The Taurus, The Explorer, The Mondeo, The Ford Ranger, The Lincoln Navigator, The GT, and a line of CCO Boost engines.
The Ford Motor Company has been an amazing Company since it was founded in 1903. It’s come a long way, and has helped revolutionize the way cars are made by introducing the moving assembly line in 1913. Being one of the largest family controlled companies in the world, Ford Motor Company, 112 years later is still coming out with new and improved designs still to this day.