The 1st of October 2008 is the one hundredth birthday of the Ford Model T, the car that literally put the world on wheels. Henry Ford’s Model T was simple, affordable and reliable. When it was first built in 1908 it was the world’s most affordable motor vehicle at a time when motoring was becoming increasingly popular.
The Model T changed the way we live, work and play, providing mobility and prosperity on an undreamed-of scale. Henry Ford called it the ‘universal car’. It became the symbol of low-cost, reliable transportation that could get through when other vehicles and horse-drawn wagons were stuck in muddy roads. The model T won the approval of millions and was affectionately dubbed ‘Tin Lizzie’.
During its 19 year production cycle Ford continued to steadily lower its price, $ 825 in 1908, down to $ 575 in 1912, and $ 290 in 1921, thanks to manufacturing efficiencies including the moving assembly line that was first introduced in 1913.
The moving assembly line was perhaps Ford Motor Company’s single greatest contribution to the automotive manufacturing process. First implemented at the Highland Park plant in Michigan, the new technique allowed individual workers to stay in one place and perform the same task repeatedly on multiple vehicles that passed by them. The moving assembly line proved tremendously efficient, helping the company to far surpass the production levels of its competitors while making its vehicles more affordable.
By 1921, every second car in the world was a Model T.
The Model T impressed with its impressive performance. It could reach a possible speed of 45 mph (72km/h). It could run on 9 litres of gasoline per 100kms. It was powered by a 20-horsepower, side-valve four-cylinder engine, and driven by a two-speed planetary transmission on a 100-inch wheelbase.
“The Model T paved the way for the modern motor industry creating new standards in manufacturing and making motoring accessible to the average man in the street,” says Hal Feder, President and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “We have come a long way in the past 100 years thanks to the vision and determination of Henry Ford.”
The centenary month also marks the launch month for the much anticipated Ford Fiesta. Building on the foundation’s established by the legendary Ford Model T, the new Fiesta aims to appeal to a global audience. Dubbed as Ford’s ‘world car’ the Fiesta will offer mass appeal to markets across the globe as an affordable, well equipped and dynamic car.
“It’s a very important month for Ford not only do we celebrate the proud tradition of the Model T but we look forward to welcoming the new Fiesta to South Africa,” concludes Feder.
Model T Time line
1908 October 1 Ford introduces the Model T – destined to be one of the world’s most popular cars
1911 October 1 Ford of Britain begins assembly of the Model T in their new Trafford Park factory
1913 October 7 World’s first moving automobile assembly line begins operation at Ford’s Highland Park (Michigan) Plant
1914 January 5 $5 pay for eight-hour day announced at Model T Plant in Highland Park (replacing $2.34 for nine hours); attracts thousands of job applicants
1915 December 10 One-millionth Ford car built
1916 June 1 Ford establishes Automobiles Ford (France) and announces plans to build an assembly plant in Bordeaux
1917 July 27 Ford introduces its first truck, the Model TT
1923 Ford of South Africa commences Model T assembly, in a disused wool store in Port Elizabeth
1924 June 4 Ten-millionth Model T built
1926 January 1 Parts depot and assembly operation set up in Berlin. Eight days later, the first Model T assembled in Germany comes off the lines
1927 May 26 Henry and Edsel Ford drive 15-millionth Model T off assembly line at Highland Park, officially ending Model T production. Production in England ends on Aug. 19; in Ireland on Dec. 31. Total world production of Model T: 15,458,781