The History of Ford
The Ford Motor Company has influenced all Americans, whether they find cars exciting or not. Ford has been integral to political policy changes, consumer-targeted environmental changes, and the very foundation of our country from the time it was created. For how complicated the car company’s history is, it still manages to reinforce the values that the United States was founded on. Ingenuity, hard work, dedication, and innovation were all instrumental in the creation of Ford Motor Company. These values are also built into the fabric of America.
As you start your 2020 in Oklahoma, or wherever you might be in the United States, take the time to think about how far America has come and how you, and brands like Ford, have made a difference in this country.
History of The Ford Motor Company
Henry Ford always had an eye for cars, even before he started mass producing them. When he was just 33, Ford built his first “car.” It was a carriage attached to a four-horsepower engine with a tiller, like a boat would have, for steering. The car couldn’t move backward, but, perhaps, it was this forward-geared mindset that set up Ford for his first big successes in the auto industry.
Shortly after creating his “first car,” he got into the automobile business. He joined the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899 but left only a year later. He had bigger plans. After creating a racecar that won at the Detroit Driving Club, he put plans for his new company into motion. In 1904, The Ford Motor Company was formed. It started with 1,000 shares and 12 investors and was valued at close to $1,000,000 in today’s currency ($28,000 in 1903). Amazingly, the company had exceeded that investment in profit only months after incorporation.
As the company expanded to Canada, Ford began laying out plans for some of their most popular cars, including the Model T.
The Model T
Everyone – even those of us who might have slept through high school history – has heard of the Model T. It’s referred to as the car that “Put the World on Wheels,” and for a good reason. Although automobiles existed before this time, this was the first car that was created and mass-marketed at a price that was affordable to the general population. The Model T was one of the most beloved cars of the past century and directly impacted sales of future automobiles.
As well as overcoming price issues, the Model T was popular because it dealt with matters rural Americans faced daily. Because there were so few paved roads during the creation of the Model T, Ford understood that the previous, more expensive car designs were not cut out to handle unpaved roads. Therefore, the ruggedness of the Model T, combined with its affordability, showcased the car as suitable for city and country driving.
The result of the Model T’s versatility? It remained in production until 1927 – nearly twenty years. And even when the Model T ceased its production, the Chassis remained part of many subsequent vehicles.
Economic Changes = Production Changes
As the years passed after the unveiling of the Model T, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that consumers had a significant influence on Ford. After World War I, there was an influx of men returning to the workforce. So, Ford responded by creating the Model TT – their first-ever work truck based on the Model T. As the economy began to restabilize, Ford created mid-level Mercury cars as a moderately-priced alternative to Lincoln town cars. Because Ford bought out Lincoln years before, this was a smart move.
But when World War II began, Ford knew that they would have to put in their part. They temporarily ceased production of cars and began production on military vehicles to aid in wartime efforts. Rosie the Riveter, one of the most famous wartime posters, came from Ford.
Sports Cars & Their Influence on Ford
Ford had a significant influence on previous periods in time. However, no other period had quite an impact on Ford cars as the sixties, which brought with it a whole new type of consumer. Baby Boomers had relatively disposable income, and their excess of wealth combined with the relative placidity of the nuclear family meant that many looked for a little edge in life. Ford temporarily saw sales decline as consumers moved away from “purely reliable” cars to edgy, beautiful cars. The Ford Motor Company knew that something had to be done about this, but it wasn’t until the unveiling of the Mustang in 1966 that Ford understood what needed to happen next.
With so many more sports cars from competitors coming onto the market, Ford needed an edge to showcase its Mustang. That’s when they enlisted the help of Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles to win the Le Mans race in 1966. Miles managed to take the lead over a significant competitor – Enzo Ferrari – during the race. All three Ford Drivers finished the race together in their GT’s (first), making a historic moment in racing history and showing the world that Ford not only made durable cars, but it also made fast and sporty cars, too. Today, you can buy the GT as a premium sports car.
Changing Decades, Changing Looks
Ford continued to make beloved and best-selling cars in the decades after the Mustang’s release. The F-series trucks remained America’s best-selling truck since the seventies, and Ford continued to create affordable and reliable trucks throughout its career. Today, we might think of the Ford Taurus as a plain car, but it broke barriers by being the first rounded (or, “jelly bean-shaped”, as reviewers put it at the time) car on the market in 1985. And even before concern for the environment peaked in the 2000s, Ford was on the market with the Ranger EV – one of the first electric vehicles available, and made available through a fan-favorite truck. Today, they continue to address consumer issues, such as environmental concern and safety, in every car they create and market.
Zeck Ford in Purcell, Oklahoma, is proud to be part of the storied and exciting history of the Ford Motor Company. Want to talk to an expert about the history of Ford? Visit us at 2311 North 9th Avenue in Purcell, Oklahoma.