EARLY DAYS OF FORD

From CNN Style

MODEL A

There was a time before Henry Ford became <em>Henry Ford</em>, an industrialist so well-known that his name was synonymous with consumerism and efficiency in Aldous Huxley's satirical novel "Brave New World." On July 23, 1903, his new Ford Motor Co. introduced the Model A, seen here. At the time, Ford was one of many trying to establish himself in the new automobile business -- though he had a vision of a car for everyone, not just rich people.

HENRY FORD

Ford was born on a farm in 1863, just north of Detroit in what is now Dearborn, Michigan. Always a tinkerer, by the time he was a teenager he'd moved to the bustling city and started work at a machine shop.

HIS FIRST WORKSHOP

In 1890, Ford constructed his first car in this workshop. He was still learning the nuts and bolts, so to speak, and he took a job in an electrical plant in 1891 to expand his knowledge of machinery and systems. Within five years, he was chief engineer of the local Edison Electric Illuminating Co.

THE QUADRACYCLE

When he wasn't at Edison, Ford was working on a new vehicle -- the Quadricycle. He finally completed a working version in 1896 and drove it through Detroit.

FIRST FACTORY IN DETROIT

Ford's first factory was at the corner of Mack Avenue and Bellevue Street in Detroit, just northeast of downtown. The city, an established logging port and manufacturing center, was a natural home for the auto industry. Within a year, Ford had moved to a larger plant on Detroit's Piquette Avenue. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

1903 MODEL A: PRICE $750

Ford's 1903 Model A, with a base price of $750, was enough of a success to allow the company to grow. Here, a family proudly sits in one while women look on from the side of the road.

INTRODUCES THE MODEL T IN 1908

Ford introduced the Model T, one of the most significant cars in history, in 1908. The affordable Model T made the automobile a product for "the great multitude," in Ford's words, and it also made him a very wealthy man. He built a new factory in Highland Park, Michigan, that employed thousands of people and produced hundreds of thousands of the cars.

1927 HE IS THE MOST FORMIDABLE INDUSTRIALIST; INTRODUCES $5 WAGE

By 1927, Ford was one of America's most formidable industrialists. He'd introduced a $5-a-day wage in 1914 -- "twice what could be earned at any other auto company," <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/timeline/henryford/" target="_blank">a PBS documentary observed</a> -- and helped build the modern middle class, though his own beliefs <a href="https://www.thehenryford.org/exhibits/hf/The_Innovator_and_Ford_Motor_Company.asp" target="_blank">could be hidebound</a> and <a href="http://history.hanover.edu/hhr/99/hhr99_2.html" target="_blank">prejudiced</a>.

WORLDS LARGEST PLANT, RIVER ROUGE FACILITY

Meanwhile, Ford had built the world's largest factory, the River Rouge plant. The complex allowed <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=LIDyU91YMHAC&pg=PA283&lpg=PA283&dq=the+raw+materials+coming+in+on+one+end+of+the+Rouge+plant+and+the+finished+cars+going+out+the+other+end&source=bl&ots=PMwDi1viBH&sig=_B74SwBx3IQ8AEYsyee3TX2R_wg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCYQ6AEwAWoVChMIpZGchMXixgIVSamACh3CCQkx#v=onepage&q=the%20raw%20materials%20coming%20in%20on%20one%20end%20of%20the%20Rouge%20plant%20and%20the%20finished%20cars%20going%20out%20the%20other%20end&f=false" target="_blank">Ford to realize his vision</a> of seeing "the raw materials coming in on one end of the Rouge plant and the finished cars going out the other end."

1927 MODEL A

Ford's updated Model A was introduced to the public in late 1927. The anticipation for the car, designed by a group led by Ford's son Edsel, might be compared to the frenzy surrounding a new Apple product: According to Ford News, <a href="http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2013/12/02/this-day-in-history-1927-ford-reveals-its-model-a-to-an-eager-public/" target="_blank">more than 10 million people came to look at the car</a> when it went on sale on December 2, 1927. It was still attracting attention in January 1930, when these men came to look one over in Chicago.

SOLD 5 MILLION VEHICLES IN 5 YEARS. TODAY PEOPLE ARE BUILDING HOT RODS FROM THESE CARS

The new Model A became almost as ubiquitous as the Model T, selling 5 million vehicles in less than five years. When its production run ended in 1932, the company's models became more diverse, but the Model A could still be seen for years. It was also <a href="http://www.hotrod.com/events/coverage/1309-history-of-hot-rodding-1940s-1950s/" target="_blank">one of the most notable hot rods</a>. Ford, of course, continues to make cars to this day.

 

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