1908: Ford Model T – Detroit, MI
Location: Detroit, Michigan
By: Henry Ford
While Henry Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, his innovative design and business model changed the world and made cars more affordable. Ford chose a vanadium alloy for his cars when he examined the wreckage of a French race car and noticed how light the material was. This vanadium alloy had three times the tensile strength of the steel alloys used by his competitors, which explains why so many Model T cars have survived today. He improved the efficiency of the assembly line so that in 4 years, the production time for a chassis assembly decreased from over 12 hours to a mere hour and 33 minutes. Beginning in 1913, all Model T cars were produced in black because the color was cheap, durable and dried quickly, meaning production could be increased. Ford’s idea to lower the product’s cost and the company’s profit margin to increase sales volume was revolutionary for the time, but was an effective one. In 1914, Ford Motor Company produced more cars than all the other auto manufacturers combined. In 1926, sales began to dwindle as competitors were rolling out more modern offerings, the likes of which the Model T could not compete with. The last Model T was produced in 1927, after 19 years and 15 million cars. In 1999, the Ford Model T was named ‘Car of the Century’ .
“I will build a motor car for the great multitude” – Henry Ford