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Henry Ford and the Model T

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Henry Ford and the Model T: Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th American President who served in office from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909. One of the important events during his presidency was the introduction of the Model T automobile.

Definition and Summary of the Henry Ford and the Model T
Summary and definition:
The Ford Model T, also known as the 'Tin Lizzie', is famous as the first affordable automobile. Gottlieb Daimler built the world’s first four-wheeled motor vehicle in 1886 but it was too expensive for most Americans.

Henry Ford made the first inexpensive automobile by producing his Model T car on an assembly line. The first Ford Model T left the Ford Motor Company factory, in Detroit, Michigan, on September 27, 1908. Within ten years over half of all cars sold in America were the Ford Model T.

Fast Facts about Henry Ford and the Model T
Fast, fun facts about Henry Ford and the Model T automobile for kids:

Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863 in Dearborn, Michigan and died April 7, 1947 at the age of 83. He was a self-made man who became a world famous American industrialist and the founder of the Ford Motor Company.

The Ford Model T was made in nine different body styles that were built with the same engine and essentially the same chassis. The Ford Model T was the first automobile that was mass-produced on moving assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts.

The colors of the first Model T cars were grey, green, blue, and red - not black. In 1914 Henry Ford reduced costs and durability by using black paint. The most famous Henry Ford quote, made in a 1909 planning meeting with his production team, was that in the future:

"Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it's black!"

Facts about Henry Ford and the Model T
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Henry Ford and the Model T.

Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863 at Dearborn farm in Greenfield Township, Wayne County, Michigan

His parents were William Ford, who was born in Ireland, and Mary Litogot, an American. Henry was the eldest of six children and raised on the family's Dearborn Farm that was located on the outskirt of Detroit.

He developed an interest in mechanics by taking apart a pocket watch and then earning some pocket money as a watch repairman. His passion for machinery led him to leave the farm in 1879, to work as an apprentice machinist in Detroit city.

His first jobs were with James F. Flower & Bros and then with the Detroit Dry Dock Company where he finished his apprenticeship.

In 1882, he returned to the family farm and at the same time studied bookkeeping at Goldsmith, Bryant & Stratton Business College in Detroit. His education gave him the skills to become a successful businessman.

The family farm used a Westinghouse portable steam engine and Henry became an expert operator of the machine. He was hired to work part time for Westinghouse Company for steam engines to service and demonstrate their machines. At this time Henry Ford became inspired by the first petrol or gasoline powered automobile that was invented by Karl Benz in 1886.

In 1888 he married Clara Bryant and the couple had in 1893 became the parents of their only child, their son Edsel Bryant Ford (1893-1943).

In 1891 the Fords moved back to Detroit so that Henry could learn more about electricity by working at the Edison Illuminating Company.

The Quadricycle: In 1896 Henry Ford built his first car - a horseless carriage using a simple frame with an ethanol-powered engine and four bicycle wheels mounted on it. He called his creation the "Quadricycle".

  • The Quadricycle 'horseless carriage' had one seat and under the seat was a 4 horsepower, 2 cylinder engine

  • The Quadricycle was steered by a tiller, driven by a chain and had only two gears (no reverse gear)

  • The Quadricycle achieved a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h) and was gasoline powered

He sold his first Quadricycle for $200 in 1896 to Charles Ainsley. The Quadricycle was his first experimental automobile and its success led to the founding of the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and the manufacture of the Model T automobile.

Following the commercial success of the Quadricycle he persuaded investors to help him form the Detroit Automobile Company and the Henry Ford Corporation to manufacture automobiles. He started by producing racing cars but the market for these special vehicles was obviously limited so the first companies closed and he opened the Ford Motor Company in 1903.

Alexander Y. Malcomson, John and Horace E. Dodge, John S. Gray, Horace Rackham, and James Couzens were some of the original investors in the company.

He achieved considerable publicity by racing his cars, and his name became well known in the early automobile industry.

  • The Ford Model A, aka the Fordmobile, was the first car produced by company

  • Production began on the bright red, 2-seat runabout in 1903

  • 1,750 cars were made but it was more expensive than its main competitor, the Oldsmobile

Many other models were designed from the Model A to the Model S. Then the Model T came into its own when the "Tin Lizzie" was introduced.

  • The new Model T models were designed to appeal to the masses

  • The automobiles were light, fast, and strong

  • Vanadium steel, which was much stronger than any other steel available, was used in the manufacture

The first Model T automobiles were produced on October 1, 1908

  • They were first produced at the Piquet plant in Detroit, Michigan

  • The Ford Model T was made in nine different body styles

The automobile was manufactured in different designs to suit all tastes.

  • The colors of the first Model T automobiles were grey, green, blue, and red - not black

  • It was originally only built as a touring car at first, but within a few months a number of other body styles were added

  • The car became commonly known as the "Tin Lizzie"

The Model T automobiles had strong selling points and significant time and effort was put into publicizing the automobiles.

  • The cars was very easy to operate and drive

  • They were inexpensive to repair

  • They had a front-mounted, inline four-cylinder engine

  • They achieved a top speed of 40–45 mph

The Model T designs included different innovations

  • The steering wheel was on left

  • There was an enclosed engine and transmission

  • The designers were Childe Harold Wills, Joseph A. Galamb and Eugene Farkas

  • The first selling price was $825

The company developed a unique ignition system an unusual trembler coil system was used to drive the spark plugs of the Model T:

  • This eliminated the need for expensive magnetos that were used on other automobiles

  • The cars were flexible as to the quality or type of fuel it used

  • The engine was capable of running on gasoline, kerosene, or ethanol

In the early years a crank had to be used in order to get the engine started

  • It was a rear-wheel drive vehicle, and sold as a three speed car, but one was the reverse

  • It was controlled with three foot pedals and a lever that was mounted to the road side of the driver's seat

  • The throttle was controlled with a lever on the steering wheel

The Model T had become so popular that it was selling faster than the company could make them. Henry Ford began looking for ways to speed up the manufacturing and introduced the assembly line method.

The Assembly Line: In 1914 Henry Ford reduced costs and durability by using black paint on the Model T automobiles. The black paint color also dried the fastest - speeding up production.  His most famous quote was "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants - so long as it is black!"

The Ford Model T was eventually manufactured in nine body styles that were built with the same engine and essentially the same chassis

The nine Model T body style designs consisted of the roadster, the runabout, the roadster torpedo, the town car, the coupe, the coupelet, the touring car and the fourdoor and tudor sedans.

In 1913 production levels had increased to such an extent that 200,000 Model T automobiles were produced

The new assembly line mass production techniques, together with the use of efficient materials, saw the price of the standard Model T steadily drop from $825 in 1903 until by 1924 a brand new runabout could be purchased for as little as $260.

In 1914, Henry Ford announced that it would pay workers a minimum wage of $5 a day. This was more than double the average for the automobile industry. He simultaneously reduced the working day from nine hours to eight, operating the factory 24-hours-a-day with a three-shift system. The factory employed 13,000 workers.

In 1918 over half of all the cars sold in America were Model Ts - from 1909 to 1927 15,007,034 Model T vehicles had been sold. Easy credit on Installment Plans were made available which led to the rise of Consumerism in 1920's America. By 1923 Ford had gained 50% of the new car market. By 1927 the company was turning out a Model T every 24 seconds.

Fordism: The term of 'Fordism' emerged defined as "the eponymous manufacturing system designed to spew out standardized, low-cost goods and afford its workers decent enough wages to buy them".

The Ford Model T had become affordable to many Americans in the 1920's. The Model T had revolutionized transportation in America. Henry Ford died at age of 83 on April 7, 1947

US American History
1881-1913: Maturation Era
Consumerism in 1920's America
The Assembly Line

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