1903-present: Ford Motor Company
Just seven years after Henry Ford built his first experimental car in a workshop behind his home, Ford Motor Company entered the business world on June 16, 1903, when Henry Ford and 11 associates signed the company's articles of incorporation. The pioneering industrialists started what has become one of the world's largest corporations. The first production by Ford was the Model A which sold for $850 and over 1,700 were sold in the first year. The success of Ford grew due to their large-scale methods for producing vehicles in large quantities by moving assembly lines. Advanced for its time, the revolutionary Model T was introduced in 1909 and withstood an 18 year production run in which over 15 million were made. Henry Ford insisted that the company's future lay in the production of affordable cars for a mass market.
However, with the end of the Model T, Ford halted factory production for six months to set up for the change over to the Model A. Within four years, 4 ½ million were bought outselling Chevrolet two to one in 1930. Ford continued their success up to World War II with the Model A and the development of the 3.6 liter V8 engine which produced its first million in 1935, less than three years after its introduction. After World War II, the Ford line-up continued with little change. Even though the same power units were used, by 1949 the Ford featured a longer and lower silhouette and coil-spring front suspension and in 1950 Automatic transmissions were introduced.
In answer to the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford produced the Thunderbird in 1955 a sporty two-seater with 225 hp and speeds reaching up to 113 mph. Ford introduced a new marquee in 1958, the Edsel (named after Henry Ford’s son) however poor sales led to its demise by 1960. By 1959, the 50-millionth Ford was produced and the company was continued to be in the top three along with General Motors and Chrysler. By the early 60’s there was a great competition in the automobile market for sports car engines. The Ford Galaxie with its 7-liter engine upstaged the Jaguars while the adoption of the V8 engine by A.C. ca Ltd for their Cobra model catapulted Ford back into the sports car field.
1964 brought the Mustang, a compact coupe with a 4.7 liter V8 engine which sold for $2,480. The car was a sensational success for Ford with half a million sold in less than eighteen months. Lee Iacocca was one of many involved with the design of the Ford Mustang as well as many other Ford vehicles including the Pinto. He eventually would become president of the company but fired in 1978.
Ford Motor Company started the last century with a single man envisioning products that would meet the needs of people in a world on the verge of high-gear industrialization. Today, Ford Motor Company is a family of automotive brands consisting of: Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda, and Volvo. The company is beginning its second century of existence with a worldwide organization that retains and expands Henry Ford's heritage by developing products that serve the varying and ever-changing needs of people in the global community.