Ford Model T History

This Day in History: Ford Model T is Unveiled, 1908

You’ ll often hear of “This Day in History” stories, which are usually something to the effect of “On this day in 1961, the first grilled cheese was eaten with tomato soup” or “On this day in 1995, Poison’s Bret Michaels created his unassailable wig-and-headband combo.” You know, pretty mundane stuff. That’s why today’s “This Day in History” is particularly exciting: on this day in 1908, the Ford Model T was first unveiled. So let’s do a historical deep-dive, shall we?

Ford Model T History

Many people wrongly assume that the Ford Model T was the first car ever made. In fact, the first steam-powered, wheeled vehicle was actually built in 1672, presaging even the locomotive. Internal combustion engines followed in 1807, and electric vehicles actually first appeared way back in 1881. (What took us so long, eh?)

Ford Model T AdKarl Benz (yeah, that Karl Benz) is generally viewed as the inventor of the modern car, and had produced roughly 570 vehicles by the end of the 1800s.

So, what was the significance of the Model T, exactly? Well, it was the car that brought powered travel to the masses. Before the Model T, only the very rich were able to afford cars, and there were only about 200,000 on the road. And though the Model T was initially somewhat pricey — the ad at right shows a price of $825, roughly $18,000 today — it was affordable and practical for the more drivers than ever before.

From the outset, it was powered by a 22-hp four-cylinder engine that could reach 40 mph, and could actually be powered by either gasoline or hemp-based fuel. The gas-powered option eventually became more affordable when oil prices dipped in the early-20th century, and the hemp option was discontinued.

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Where Ford really made headway from a cost standpoint, however, was when repairs were needed. Because this was the first car to be entirely manufactured on an assembly line, the parts were standard and easily interchangeable. The assembly line also made it possible to produce parts quickly, to the point where Ford was churning out 1,000 cars weekly by 1914, and 10,000 Model T engine blocks in a day by 1924.

By the mid-1920s, Americans were ready for more advanced vehicle options, and Ford was ready to make them. The Model T was eventually phased out by 1927, and an era was ended. Yet, the impact of the Ford Model T that began 107 years ago today can’t be overstated, and the results can still be felt today.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief trip down memory lane, and that you’ll come see us soon at Harbin Automotive!