No matter what you’re classic car affiliation, whether it be with Ford, Chevy or Chrysler, there is no denying that the automotive industry would not be the same without Henry Ford. Although Ford lived before many of our times, we owe him a lot for not only what the Ford Motor Company has become, but the classic cars that came from his personal engineering efforts. Unfortunately, the automotive world lost the father of the automobile back in 1947 at the age of 83 but today we celebrate his birthday and the start of what many people consider the beginning of the modern automotive industry.
Born on July 30th, 1863, Ford got his start in the industry at a young age. At just 16 years old, Ford left home and worked as an apprentice machinist in Detroit, Michigan. After three years, Ford returned to his hometown of Dearborn and spent time operating and repairing steam engines among other things, like working in a Detroit factory and helping on the family farm.
After marrying in 1888 and running a saw mill for a few years, Ford became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in 1891. By 1893, he had been promoted to Chief Engineer which gave him the time and money to look after his personal interest in internal combustion engines. It was this that truly launched the Ford Motor Company into action.
After building his first self-propelled vehicle, the Quadricycle, in 1986, starting the Ford Motor Company was a given, but it wasn’t until 1903 after two failed attempts of creating an automotive company, that the Ford Motor Company was incorporated.
In 1908, the fledgling company introduced the Model T as the culmination of Ford’s dream of producing a reliable, efficient and reasonably priced automobile. This proved to be a success with half of all vehicles on American roads in 1918 being Model Ts.
The Model T’s introduction also brought about the idea of production using a continuous assembly line. Ford implemented this in his production in 1913 at the company’s Highland Park facility opened just three years earlier, and it revolutionized how cars were produced, existing in manufacturing processes still to this day. By 1927, the Ford Motor Company was doing everything from refining to final assembly of their vehicles under one roof at the world’s largest industrial complex located in Dearborn on the banks of the Rouge River. The year 1927 also marks the end of the Model T production and the beginning of the Model A.
In 1932, the Ford Motor Company built its first V8 car, making room for the countless eight-cylinder Fords that were produced since. Everything from Mustangs to pickup trucks now sport the Ford V8. With much success under his belt and a major impact on the industry as we know it today, Ford died on April 7th, 1947.
Without Ford’s contributions to the automotive world, things may have turned out very differently. Even if you’re partial to another manufacturer, Ford affected how you enjoy your vehicle today and we think that deserves major appreciation. Happy Birthday Henry Ford.