Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ford Model T Celebrates 100th Birthday

It was one hundred years ago today -- on October 1, 1908 -- that Henry Ford put the very first Model T on the road. So happy birthday Model T. For better or worse, you changed the world -- an iconic vehicle, a great drive with lasting impact on all of us.

Here are some of the ways --

The Model T officially ushered in the age of the "horseless carriage", and a burst of technical innovations that jump-started the aumotibile industry. More than 15 million Model T's were produced, including the 1924 Tourer pictured here. By 1921, the Model T accounted for an astounding 56% of the world's automobile production, and since it was manufactured in several countries and had dealerships in six continents, you could call the Model T the world's first global car.

Henry Ford essentially invented the assembly line to produce the Model T, and that manufacturing efficiency lowered the price of a car enough that most people could afford. In 1908, the first Model T cost $825. By 1925, it sold for only $260.

The Model T is responsible for establishing a minimum wage and the eight-hour work day. The factory work also gave jobs to people who usually could not find work, such as immigrants, women, minorities and people with disabilities, and helped create a middle-class.

Model T owners were able to personalize their vehicles with accessories. Now, that is called the aftermarket supplier industry, and it's a $38 Billion industry. So any time you see a car with custom hubcaps or pin-striping, or a dealer-installed audio system, you can thank the Model T, which started the customization trend.

By 1925, Ford was building its first factory-produced domestic pickup truck - the Ford Model T Runabout - with a pickup body. There also was a heavier-duty, one-ton-rated Model TT pickup that is a grand-daddy of today's F-Series Super Duty.

The Tin Lizzie had a top speed of 40-45 mph, from a front-mounted, 2.9-liter, four-cylinder, engine, and it was the best-selling vehicle ever, until 1972 when the VW Beetle finally surpassed it. More than 20 years later in 1999, a panel of 126 automotive experts from 32 countries still chose the Model T as the most influential car of the 20th century.

So Happy 100th Birthday Ford Model T.

No comments: