The most important man in the history of the automobile.
We hope you’re ready for a little history lesson.
Henry Ford was born on the 30th of July, 1863, on a farm in Dearborn, Michigan. From his early days, Ford always loved the idea of technology, and as he grew up, he self-developed skills such as working on steam engines and fixing watches, which unknowingly to him at the time, would be his inspiration for starting one of the largest and most successful automotive manufacturers of all time.
Ford used the mechanics of watchmaking as a guide to learn the principles of the machine. He was a keen leader, a problem solver, and would always work by trial and error. In 1879, at the age of 16, Ford moved out of his family’s farm to work at an automotive company, which made trains and rail cars in Detroit, but since he was an independent learner and didn’t like working for others, he went back home three years later to start his own business servicing and operating steam engines used by farmers.
In 1891, Ford’s family moved to Detroit. Seeing an opportunity to broarden his career, he took up a job as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit. He soon became the chief engineer of the electrical company in 1896, however, by then, Ford had enough time and money to devote to his own personal interests; most importantly, his focus on gasoline powered engines.
Within the same year, Ford had built his first self-propelled vehicle he named the ‘Ford Quadricycle’. Powered by a two-cylinder, four-horsepower engine, and driven off a two-speed gearbox, the quadricycle could reach a speed of 32km/h. A toy for the rich, this bizarre horseless carriage was sold to a man named Charley Ainsley for $200.
On June the 16th, 1903, the Ford Motor Company was formed. The company, backed by many investors including the Dodge brothers and the mayor of Detroit, sold their first car on the 23rd of July of the same year, the Model A.
The engineers at the Ford Motor Company persisted, and eventually produced the breakthrough Ford had needed.
The Model T was introduced on the first of October, 1908. It featured a four cylinder engine which produced 20 horsepower; and weighing in at around 500kg, it had a top speed of 45 miles per hour (around 72.5km/h). Nicknamed the “Tin Lizzie”, over 15 million Model T’s were sold during its time of production span between 1908 to 1927. The car was available to the public in several body styles including a five seater touring car, a two seater, and even a seven seater town car. There were a variety of colours available, including green, red, blue, brown, grey and black. The Model T marked the beginning of the mass produced car.
By the time the last Model T was manufactured in 1927, each Model T was rolling off the production line every 24 seconds.
The invention of the mass produced automobile revolutionised the way people lived, as it meant affordable, quick and efficent transport for everyone. With each car replacing the need of horses, whilst making the equivalent power of 20 horses, Ford had made transport reliable, and although he didn’t invent the car, the engine, nor the idea of a production line, Ford had invented the production car which would change the future of the automobile forever.