The story of the Ford Model T 0

It was almost exactly 109 years ago this month that a Model T Ford first rolled off the production line at the Blue Oval’s Piquette Avenue plant in Detroit. It’s hard to overstate just how revolutionary the car was when it first appeared. Over the 19 year production run, Ford would build around 15 million Model Ts, the longest production run of any car until the VW Beetle pinched the honour in 1972.

What was so remarkable about the Model T – and the impact it subsequently had – was the fact that it was the first ‘car for the masses’. Before it arrived on the scene cars were a luxury item, a status symbol for the rich and upper classes. In 1908 there were less than 200,000 cars on the roads across the globe. The Model T was a car the working man could realistically consider purchasing, despite being quite expensive when it first came out (the cheapest one cost $825 or £14,000 in today’s money). The Model T was Henry Ford’s vision of a mode of transport for ordinary people.

Boasting a 22-horsepower, four cylinder engine, the Model T used a pioneering new type of French heat-treated steel. This resulted in the car being extremely light – it weighed just 1,200 pounds – but stronger than the cars that preceded it.

It was no slouch either. Capable of an extremely-brisk-for-the-time 40 mph, the Model T could use either traditional petrol or a hemp-based equivalent as fuel. The global drop in petrol prices eventually resulted in the hemp-option being phased out.

“No car under $2,000 offers more,” ads stated triumphantly, “and no car over $2,000 offers more except the trimmings.”

Ford kept overall costs down by sticking with just the one product: the Model T. This allowed the company’s engineers to develop a system of interchangeable parts that cut waste and meant the car could be easily built by an unskilled workforce.

The invention of the moving assembly line meant that by 1914, thousands of cars could be built each week. In 1924, 10,000 Model T cylinder blocks were cast in one day.

The Model T was the most successful car of its time, but by 1924 it had been usurped by more stylish options. The 1920s saw car buyers becoming more discerning in their tastes and the Model T started to look dated by comparison. In 1927, the last one rolled off the assembly line.

For top quality car servicing at an unbeatable price – book with Servicing Stop today!