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How the Model T Changed America



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You’ve probably heard of Henry Ford, but who exactly is he and why is he important? For starters, Ford was born on July 30, 1863, on his family’s farm in Dearborn, Michigan. As a youngster, he grew up curious about the machinery used for farming and enjoyed tinkering with them.

When he got older, he worked at a local Detroit machine shop and later for the Westinghouse Engine Company. His spare time was largely spent pursuing his ultimate passion — building a “horseless carriage.”

Henry finished his first design in 1896, launching his long and illustrious career in the automotive industry. It wasn’t long before he was selling his early horseless carriages.

In 1903, he incorporated the Ford Motor Company, proclaiming “I will build a car for the great multitude.” After 5 years of feverous work, the design of said car for the multitudes – the Model T automobile — was completed.

When it officially went on sale in 1908, the Model T commanded a price of $950. By 1918, that price had dropped to just $280, according to a knowledgeable technician at

It didn’t take long after the car’s launch for demand outstrip supply and Ford’s solution to this problem was the application of a revolutionary “assembly line” concept that allowed the company’s Highland Park plant to churn out a complete Model T chassis every 93 minutes, a stunning improvement over the the earlier production time of 728 minutes!

Refinement of the process over time would eventually allow the innovative mass-production techniques to manufacture a Model T every 24 seconds.

Ford was always sympathetic to the plight of his workers and, in 1914, began paying his employees five dollars a day, which was nearly double the wages offered by other manufacturers and assured that he could obtain and retain the best employees possible. As if that wasn’t enough, he later cut the average workday from nine to eight hours in order to convert the factory to a three-shift workday.

These bold moves were unheard of at the time, and are in vast contrast to what companies do nowadays…

By the time the last unit rolled off the assembly line in 1927, nearly 15,500,000 Model Ts had been sold in the United States alone and the vehicle had irrevocably altered American society. Its affordability allowed many Americans to own a car, changing urbanization patterns.

No longer was it necessary to live nearby where one worked — the whole of the United States was on wheels, with the possibility of the average American to go anywhere at any time. The first “mobile” society was born.

While it’s fitting that Ford witnessed all these changes during his lifetime, interestingly, he personally longed for the simple, agrarian lifestyle of his youth.

In the years prior to his death on April 7, 1947, Ford sponsored the restoration of an idyllic rural town called Greenfield Village, which is today a very popular tourist attraction that provides insight into the life of the man who truly changed America — Mr. Henry Ford.

Article Source: Interstate Dodge

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