Ford Model T

Without Ford's innovative approach to the Model T, car ownership would only have been attainable by the rich

At the beginning of the 20th century, to see a motor vehicle on the road – no matter where you were – was far from common. The first cars appeared in 1886 but fast forward 20 years and ownership remained at incredibly low levels, with fewer than 200,000. 

Much of this had to do with the fact that to own a vehicle required the individual to be incredibly wealthy as only luxury, hand-crafted models were available on the market.

It was into this environment that Ford introduced the Model T to the world. Without exaggeration, this move single-handedly made owning a motor vehicle an achievable dream for a much wider section of society. 

Henry Ford declared: “I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. 

“But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces.”

Beginning in 1906, Ford spent nearly two years designing his everyman vehicle at a plant in Detroit. It was during this time that he attended a race in Florida and inspected the wreckage of a French racing car and noticed the lightweight, high-strength vanadium alloy used in the vehicle. The material was mass-produced for the first time for the Model T. 

Five-seat, two-seat and seven-seat versions of the model were offered, with each mounted on a 2,540mm wheelbase and powered by a four-cylinder engine with a 45-litre fuel tank. The car had 16kW of power and a top speed of 72km/h, while the single-block engine design with a removable cylinder head became the industry standard. 

tags: April 2015 Ford