Ford Model T

The End of the Ford Model T’s Reign…

On June 4, 1924, the ten millionth Model T Ford left the Highland Park factory, which would remain the main facility for T production. While the flivver outsold its nearest competitor by a six-to-one margin that year, its unbridled run was nearing an unforeseen conclusion. After years of conceding the low end of the market to Ford, another automaker was setting its sights on that very sector.

At the beginning of the decade, General Motors was an awkward conglomerate of car companies and parts suppliers, managed more for the sake of its whipsaw stock-price than for efficiencies in auto making. In the middle of the decade, though, a revitalized GM, under the brilliant leadership of Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., began to offer inexpensive Chevrolets with amenities that the Model T lacked. Instead of the sturdy but antiquated planetary transmission, it had a smooth three-speed. The market began to shift; price and value ceased to be paramount factors. Styling and excitement suddenly counted to the customer. Even though the Model T cost a mere $290 in the mid-twenties, dealers clamored for a new Ford that would strike the fancy of the more demanding and sophisticated consumers.

But Henry Ford refused even to consider replacing his beloved Model T. Once, while he was away on vacation, employees built an updated Model T and surprised him with it on his return. Ford responded by kicking in the windshield and stomping on the roof. “We got the message,” one of the employees said later, “As far as he was concerned, the Model T was god and we were to put away false images.” Only one person persisted in warning him of the impending crisis: his son, Edsel, who had been installed as president of the Ford Motor Company during the dividend trial and its aftermath in 1919. It was the first of many arguments that Edsel would lose, as the once adoring relationship between the two deteriorated into distrust and disrespect on Henry’s part and woeful disillusionment on Edsel’s.

The Chevrolet continued to take sales from the dour Model T. By 1926, T sales had plummeted, and the realities of the marketplace finally convinced Henry Ford that the end was at hand.

 On May 25, 1927, Ford abruptly announced the end of production for the Model T, and soon after closed the Highland Park factory for six months. The shutdown was not for retooling: there was no new model in the works. In history’s worst case of product planning, Henry sent the workers home so that he could start to design his next model.

Fortunately, Edsel had been quietly marshalling sketches from the company’s designers, and he was ready and able to work with his father on producing plans for the new car, called the Model A. It was a success from its launch in December 1927, and placed the company on sound footing again. By the time it went into production, the River Rouge had become the main Ford manufacturing facility.

When the last Model T rolled off the assembly line, it was not the end of an era, it was still the very dawn of the one that the little car had inaugurated. Cars — more than half of them Model Ts — pervaded American culture. They jammed the streets of the great eastern cities and roamed newly laid roads in southern California. Adapted to haul everything from mail to machine guns to coffins to schoolchildren, automobiles represented an opportunity for change in practically everything. They also became a crucial factor in recasting a growing economy. Henry Ford had created a car for the multitudes and that car had created the basis of the car culture embraced by every subsequent generation.

The Ford Motor Company, having survived its own crisis in the twenties, was one of only forty-four U.S. automakers left in 1929, out of the hundreds that had entered the fray since the beginning of the century. That year, Ford, General Motors, and the newly formed Chrysler Corporation — known then and now as the Big Three — accounted for 80 percent of the market.

Henry Ford died on April 7, 1947, at the age of eighty-three, having outlived the Model T by nearly twenty years. A century has passed since he took the first car he built for a ride. The world remains in large part the one set into motion by Henry Ford: a world in which cars are for everyone. As Will Rogers said, “It will take a hundred years to tell whether he helped us or hurt us, but he certainly didn’t leave us where he found us.”


Why the Ford Model T Was so Important

Before the Model T, most cars cost lots of money. Only people with lots of money could afford them. Even Ford’s cars before the Model T cost a lot of money. The model t went for around $980. A car built in 1903 called the Oldsmobile Curved Dash was very easy to buy, but was a very simple and slow car that was more like a buggy than a car.

The man who owned the company, Henry Ford, heard about meat being packed on an assembly line, which moved meat from worker to worker so that the meat could be cut up. No one had ever thought to use an assembly line to put cars together. Ford knew that if he built his cars on an assembly line instead of one at a time like other cars, he could make a car that anyone could afford and would be built like cars that cost more money. He also knew that he could pay his workers lots more money.

The Ford Model T car was designed by Henry Ford, Childe Harolde Wills and two Hungarian men named József Galamb and Eugene Farkas. The Model T had a 177 cubic inch (2.9 L) four-cylinder engine producing 20 horsepower (15 kW) for a top speed of 45 miles per hour (72 km/h). The engine had side valves and three main bearings. Fuel economy was 14 to 21 miles per gallon (6 to 9 km/l), an excellent number even today.


The Ford Model T, In the Beginning…

Henry Ford began building the Model T in his Piquette factory on October 6, 1908 as a 1909 model. Workers from all over the world wanted to work for Ford because of the good pay. Workers could even save their money for a Model T of their own. The price of the Model T dropped over the years, making it even easier to buy.

Work began at one end of the assembly line, starting with an empty chassis. From there, the chassis moved slowly down the assembly line. Workers on the assembly line added parts to the chassis. Before long, a new Model T rolled off the other end of the line. Different body styles were available, even a truck, or Model TT. At first, the only color available was black. Black paint was used because it was cheaper than other paints and Ford was obsessed with increasing profit. As car paint got better over the years, Ford began offering other colors. The time it took a chassis to become a finished car was over twelve hours when the first Model T’s were built. By the time the last Model T came off of the line, Ford had so many auto plants it was making one car every 40 seconds!

Even though the Model T sold for little money, Ford used the best materials he could buy to make his car. Most roads in the Model T’s day were dirt, gravel or even mud. That meant the Model T had to be very strong, and it was. The wheels and tires were very tall and skinny so that they could sink into mud roads and not get stuck. It was also very simple.


Model T Mishap…

Here’s a laugh for you all…

So as you all know, I took my Model T to Weekend on Wheels in Taree on Sunday 26th May, incidentally, this was the same day in 1927 that the Ford Model T ceased production.

Anyway, I was about 300 metres (1000ft approx) from the entrance gate to the showground, and guess what… splutter cough cough “Oh crap!”, I ran out of fuel, not a single drop left in the tank! So I guess now I’m officially a member of the Model T owners club!

It was fortunate I was able to flag down a *modern* car owner, who gave me a tow to the nearest fuel station less than 3km away, (roughly 2 miles).

I will definitely be more careful in future!


The Price of a Ford Model T – 100 Years Ago

The standard 4-seat open tourer of 1909 cost $850 (equivalent to $20,709 today), when competing cars often cost $2,000–$3,000 (equivalent to $48,726–$73,089 today); in 1913, the price dropped to $550 (equivalent to $12,181 today), and $440 in 1915 (equivalent to $9,521 today). Sales were 69,762 in 1911; 170,211 in 1912; 202,667 in 1913; 308,162 in 1914; and 501,462 in 1915. In 1914, an assembly line worker could buy a Model T with four months’ pay.

By the 1920s, the price had fallen to $290 (equivalent to $3,289 today) because of increasing efficiencies of assembly line technique and volume. Henry employed vertical integration of the industries needed to create his cars.

Read the full price list here… Model T Ford Price List



My 1925 Ford Model T gets Noticed in Taree, NSW

On the way home from Weekend on Wheels in Taree, and my Model T gets noticed by Bridget and her family, who were very enthusiastic about my 88 year old Model T :)

They were excited at the opportunity to go for a ride :) ….



Ford Model T Mass Production and the Assembly Line

The knowledge and skills needed by a factory worker were reduced to 84 areas. When introduced, the T used the building methods typical at the time, assembly by hand, and production was small. Ford’s Piquette plant could not keep up with demand for the Model T, and only 11 cars were built there during the first full month of production. More and more machines were used to reduce the complexity within the 84 defined areas. In 1910, after assembling nearly 12,000 Model Ts, Henry Ford moved the company to the new Highland Park complex.

As a result, Ford’s cars came off the line in three-minute intervals, much faster than previous methods, reducing production time by a factor of eight (requiring 12.5 hours before, 93 minutes afterwards), while using less manpower. By 1914, the assembly process for the Model T had been so streamlined it took only 93 minutes to assemble a car. That year Ford produced more cars than all other automakers combined. The Model T was a great commercial success, and by the time Henry made his 10 millionth car, 50 percent of all cars in the world were Fords. It was so successful that Ford did not purchase any advertising between 1917 and 1923; more than 15 million Model Ts were manufactured, reaching a rate of 9,000 to 10,000 cars a day in 1925, or 2 million annually, more than any other model of its day, at a price of just $240. Model T production was finally surpassed by the Volkswagen Beetle on February 17, 1972.

Henry Ford’s ideological approach to Model T design was one of getting it right and then keeping it the same; he believed the Model T was all the car a person would, or could, ever need. As other companies offered comfort and styling advantages, at competitive prices, the Model T lost market share. Design changes were not as few as the public perceived, but the idea of an unchanging model was kept intact. Eventually, on May 26, 1927, Ford Motor Company ceased production and began the changeovers required to produce the Model A.

Model T engines continued to be produced until August 4, 1941. Almost 170,000 were built after car production stopped, as replacement engines were required to service already produced vehicles. Racers and enthusiasts, forerunners of modern hot rodders, used the Model T’s block to build popular and cheap racing engines, including Cragar, Navarro, and famously the Frontenacs (“Fronty Fords”) of the Chevrolet brothers, among many others.

The Model T employed some advanced technology, for example, its use of vanadium steel alloy. Its durability was phenomenal, and many Model Ts and their parts remain in running order nearly a century later. Although Henry Ford resisted some kinds of change, he always championed the advancement of materials engineering, and often mechanical engineering and industrial engineering.

In 2002, Ford built a final batch of six Model Ts as part of their 2003 centenary celebrations. These cars were assembled from remaining new components and other parts produced from the original drawings. The last of the six was used for publicity purposes in the UK.

Although Ford no longer manufacture parts for the Model T, many parts are still manufactured through private companies as replicas to service the thousands of Model T’s still in operation today.


The Ford Model T – The Automobile of 1000 Uses…

Diverse applications in a world not yet widely paved, motorized, or electrified

When the Model T was designed and introduced, the infrastructure of the world was quite different from today’s. Pavement was a rarity except for sidewalks and a few big-city streets. (The sense of the term “pavement” as equivalent with “sidewalk” comes from that era, when streets and roads were generally dirt (mud during rainy periods) and sidewalks were a paved way to walk down them without getting dirty. In fact, this was a motive for segregating foot traffic from carriage traffic long before the speed of automobiles provided another motive.) Agriculture was the occupation of many people. Power tools were scarce outside factories, as were any power sources to run them; electrification, like pavement, was found usually only in larger towns and cities. Rural electrification and motorized mechanization were embryonic in North America and Europe, and nonexistent elsewhere.

Henry Ford oversaw the requirements and design of the Model T based on the realities of that world. Consequently, the Model T was (intentionally) almost as much a tractor and stationary engine as it was an automobile, that is, a vehicle dedicated solely to road use. It has always been well regarded for its all-terrain abilities and ruggedness. It could travel a rocky, muddy farm lane, ford a shallow stream, climb a steep hill, and be parked on the other side to have one of its wheels removed and a pulley fastened to the hub for a flat belt to drive a bucksaw, thresher, silo blower, conveyor for filling corn cribs or haylofts, baler, water pump (for wells, mines, or swampy farm fields), electrical generator, and countless other applications. One unique application of the Model T was shown in the October 1922 issue of Fordson Farmer magazine. It showed a minister who had transformed his Model T in to a mobile church, complete with small organ.

During this era, entire automobiles (including thousands of Model Ts) were even hacked apart by their industrious owners and reconfigured into custom machinery permanently dedicated to a purpose, such as homemade tractors, ice saws, or many others. Dozens of aftermarket companies sold prefab kits to facilitate the T’s conversion from car to tractor. In a world mostly without mechanized cultivators, Model Ts filled a vacuum. Row-crop tractors such as the Farmall did not become widespread until the 1930s. Like many popular car engines of the era, the Model T engine was also used on home-built aircraft (such as the Pietenpol Sky Scout) and motorboats.

Also, many Model Ts were converted into vehicles which could travel across heavy snows with kits on the rear wheels and skis where the front wheels were located. They were popular for rural mail delivery for a time. The common name for these conversions of cars and small trucks was Snowflyers. These vehicles were extremely popular in the northern reaches of Canada where factories were set up to produce them.


1920’s Period Clothing…

Hi again!

So I’ve decided to go retro! I’ve bought some items of clothing in order to dress as a man may have done in the early 20’s.

My outfit isn’t quite complete, but here’s a picture of what I have so far…

Let me know what you think!

 

Mitch.


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Ford Model T