Ford Model T - Business in United States of America
Identification: First automobile produced by the Ford Motor Company
Date: Produced 1908-1927
Significance: The Ford Model T was the first automobile to be manufactured on an assembly line. This innovation not only made it the most affordably priced automobile on the market at the time but also made it possible for more of the members of the middle class to purchase automobiles. The Ford Motor Company unveiled the Ford Model T on October 1, 1908, at the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan. The vehicle, also known as the Tin Lizzie or the Flivver, was designed by Henry Ford, Childe Harold Wills, Joseph A. Galamb, and Eugene Farkas. The assembly of the Model T during its first years of production was slow and costly, because like all other automobiles at the time, it was built by hand. Ford ingeniously applied the assembly- line technique to the building of the Model T, and by 1913, the company could build a Model T in one hour and thirty-three minutes. By 1927, the company could produce a completed car every twenty-four seconds.
Ford’s use of mass production and of interchangeable automobile parts lowered the manufacturing costs of building a car and reduced the price at which a car could be sold. In 1908, the Model T sold for $850, but by the 1920’s, the car was sold for less than $300. The Model T became the most popular vehicle of its time and was produced until May 26, 1927. The engine continued to be manufactured until August 4, 1941. Ford’s use of the assembly line in the production of the Model T—often called the “universal car”—not only revolutionized the manufacturing industry but also transformed the economic and social framework of the American middle class by allowing more Americans to own a car.
Brinkley, Douglas G. Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress. New York: Penguin Books, 2004.
Hooker, Clarence. Life in the Shadows of the Crystal Palace, 1910-1927: Ford Workers in the Model T Era. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1997.
Lacey, Robert. Ford: The Men and the Machines. Boston: Little, Brown, 1986.
See also: Automation in factories; automotive industry.
Automotive industry: Automobiles Become Mainstream
Automotive industry: The Beginning of the Industry
Automation in factories