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The History of Ford

The 20th Century brought about tremendous changes in the United States. In fact, it was the most dynamic century to date of all time as far as progression in many things: especially the automobile. Although Henry Ford did not invent the very first automobile, he certainly invented the car that would change the world.

Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863. He came from humble beginnings as the son of a farmer in Greenfield Township, Michigan. When his mother died he left the farm to become an apprentice machinist in Detroit. He later returned home to help on the farm and educated himself on operating the Westinghouse Portable Steam Engine. This landed him a job at Westinghouse where he worked to maintain and service the engines. During this time, he put himself through college in Detroit.

After Ford married, he worked his way up to Chief Engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company. This allowed him the financial stability to continue tinkering with gasoline engines on the side. In 1896, he invented the Quadricycle (also known as the "horseless carriage") and continued to perfect it. During this time, he was introduced to Thomas Edison, who took an interest in Ford's expertise in automobiles and he was also introduced to several other wealthy and influential men who invested in his ideas.

Before long, Ford resigned from Edison and founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899 but this was short lived due to the fact that Ford was not satisfied with the high cost and low quality of the automobiles. He wanted just the opposite: high quality and affordable pricing.

In 1901 Ford built and successfully raced a 26 horsepower vehicle and shortly thereafter formed the Henry Ford Company in 1901. When consultant Henry Leland was called in by one of the investors, Ford left his own company and it was renamed the Cadillac Automobile Company.

He went on to design a new race car with 80 horsepower in which Barney Oldfield drove to victory in 1902. Oldfield agreed to take another newly designed Ford and drive it across country to advertise the name of Ford. He nicknamed it "999" after the fastest running locomotive in that day. The car was tested during a one-mile drive and it hit the top speed of 91.3 mph, earning it the new land speed record of that time. Ford Motor Company was reincorporated in 1903, and Henry Ford became one of the founding backers of the Indianapolis 500 due to his interest in racing.

Ford automobile plant in the early 1900's
Henry Ford next to a black ford car

Ford's Production Vehicles Throughout the Years:

Ford rolled out his first Model A in 1903 and other models followed in chronological order to Model's K and S. In 1908 the Model T was produced and between 1908 and 1927, 15 million were sold. By the year 1920 half the cars in the U.S. were Model Ts.


In 1916 a Model T Field Ambulance was produced during WWI and was used by the British and French Allies and the Model T also became the foundation for the Ford 3-Ton M1918 tank. In 1917, Ford produced the model TT, their very first truck. It was a one-ton truck based off the Model T and was built with a reinforced chassis and rear axle. In 1918, Ford produced 42 Eagle class antisubmarine patrol boats; 38,000 Model T cars, ambulances and trucks; The US and UK plants produced 7000 Fordson (Ford &Son) tractors; and 4,000 liberty airplane engines to aid in the war effort. It is important to note that Henry Ford personally sought out war veterans and put them to work in his plants making him a pioneer in hiring those with disabilities and creating a work environment conducive to the disabled.

In 1922, Ford purchased the Lincoln Motor Company from Henry Leland. In 1927, Ford stopped the production of the Model T and reintroduced a newly invented Model A Fordor in 1928 which ended production in 1931 after selling 4,858,644 units.

The Model A was followed by the 4-cylinder Model B, and then the Model 18 which featured Ford's new invention of the flathead V8 engine in 1932. In 1936, the Lincoln-Zephyr was introduced. It was a lower-priced, mid sized luxury car manufactured by Ford for Lincoln. The Zephyr remained in production until 1940.


In 1941, Ford began producing Willy's general purpose (GP) vehicles for the military. It is said that the GP designation eventually gave the utilitarian vehicle its name as we know it today-Jeep. In 1942, Ford ceased civilian automobile production to support the war effort by producing 8000 B-24 Liberator Bombers and manufactured thousands of automobiles, aircraft engines and tanks.

After the war, Henry Ford II took over as president and in 1948 truck history was made when the first F-1 was introduced. The Ford F-1/F-150 is now in its thirteenth generation and it doesn't appear this model will go away anytime soon. It remains one of the best selling trucks of all time.

Anyone who has ever loved surfing will certainly remember the 1949 "Woody" station wagon the Beach Boys mentioned in one of their songs. And when the slick and sleek Thunderbird came along in 1954, this V8 powered personal luxury car turned a lot of heads and it went on to become a classic. In 1955, the first Ford Crown Victoria emerged.

Who can forget the Edsel? It was launched in 1957 and was named after Henry Ford's son. The world wasn't quite ready for it back in the day, but today it is considered a collector's item with a price tag of approximately a quarter of a million dollars. In 1960, the Ford Galaxy came along and blew most everyone out of the water, well-off the road. The Ford Falcon was also introduced in 1960.

Muscle cars were coming of age in the '60s and when the 1964 Mustang came along, everyone wanted one. Even the great, late Steve McQueen liked the Mustang. In fact, he loved the 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2+2 Fastback so much, that he drove it himself in the movie "Bullitt." No stuntman needed. And if that wasn't enough, enter the Ford GT40 that begged to challenge Porsche and Ferrari at Le Mans. The Ford GT40 became the first American manufactured sports car to ever win the Le Mans, again and again and again.

iconic ford mustang convertible
white ford f150 pickup truck
classic ford fiesta coming out of the production line

In 1966 the Ford Bronco SUV was introduced and was followed by the compact and affordable Ford Maverick in 1970. Ford also introduced retractable seat belts in 1970. In 1975 Ford had a very busy year and produced the Ford Granada, Mercury Monarch, and the Ford Fiesta. In 1981 the Ford Escort was introduced and it went on to become one of Ford's best sellers in the '80s.

In 1985, Ford broke the mold (again) by creating their new aero design styling by way of the Ford Taurus. The Taurus would go on for the next 20 years as one of Ford's most popular cars. The Ford Aerostar minivan was also introduced in this year with same aerodynamic styling and it earned Motor Trend's Truck of the Year award in 1990.

One of the most beloved SUVs of all time surfaced in 1991: the Ford Explorer. It was the first SUV to become a mainstream family vehicle over minivans and station wagons. In 1996, Ford marked another ground-breaker with its Ford Ranger Electric Vehicle.

Ford celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2003. To commemorate their anniversary, a newly designed Ford GT was introduced. In 2004, the Ford Escape Hybrid became the very first gasoline-electric hybrid SUV produced in the U.S. In 2006 the Ford Fusion was introduced to the public and J.D. Power and Associates rated the Fusion higher in quality than that of its chief competitors.

In 2007, the Ford Edge debuted. In 2014 Ford Mustang celebrated its sixth generation's 50th anniversary and in 2015, the F-150 received a radical redesign of an all-aluminum body.

Angela Krause Ford Lincoln in Alpharetta is not just an automobile dealership. It is the result of nearly 114 years of progressive history in automobile manufacturing that has very deep roots. When you purchase a Ford, you become a part of that history. Come in today and see the new, all-aluminum F-150 or the new sleek and sophisticated Ford Mustang. We are easy to find just off GA 400 and next door to the Atlanta Humane Society on Mansell Road. Come see for yourself what the great Henry Ford started.