Henry Ford: The Model T Essay, Research Paper
In 1908 the first ever Model T had been built in a Detroit, Michigan factory. This single machine revolutionized the world today. Although it wasn’t the first car, the Model T was the best of the early ones that was produced. This car was reliable, comfortable, and affordable making it an easy winner over the rest of the non-existent competition.
Since Henry Ford built his first racer in 1903, he has always been associated with the word reliable. In the first race he ever drove in he used a car that had only twenty-four horsepower. The rest of the field was in the high thirties and one car even boasted of forty-two horsepower (Lacroix 15). Alexander Winton who was a successfully known racer drove the car with the forty-two horsepower. Henrys car was losing right from the start of the race as Winton’s car had pulled away from the entire field, most cars though had gotten into accidents because of the inexperience of the drivers. Out of the ten drivers eight were out because of accidents. This had just left Ford and Winton. Winton, although in the lead, was facing problems. His engine had begun to smoke because it was not getting enough oil to it. His car lost speed each foot he had moved until his car had eventually stopped running. This had allowed for Henry to make up all of the lost ground and go onto win. All though not the fastest car it was the most reliable and that is why Henry is known for his reliability (Wamner 32).
With this race complete it was time for Henry to move on with the rest of his life and begin his job as a car maker. In 1904 Ford had began production on the Model A. The Model A was not successful at all. There were constant breakdowns on nearly every part and also it took too much gas to keep the machine running. Ford had produced cars from the Model B to the Model S and out of all of these models all of these had proved to be unsuccessful in the car market (Wamner 29). It wasn’t until 1907 when Ford had designed the Model T.
The Model T to say the least was designed from an accident (Walton 10). The reason this is true is because, that while Henry was attending a race there was an accident where a car had hit a tree, the car however did not crumble it only had large dents and scratches. The reason for only dents and scratches was because of the metal in the car. The car had been using Vanadium Steel, which is nearly ten times stronger than the steel they had been using (Wamner 35). Henry needed to find someone to produce this steel for him. It was not easy to make it because conventional kilns only reached 6,000*F, in order for the steel to be produced they needed 9,000*F. Eventually he had found someone to make this and he then made every Model T with it.
The Model T or the “Tin Lizzie” was made for rough conditions, some of these being bad weather and bad roads (Walton 46). He put springs into the car, which led too many improved rides; also they kept the axles from breaking and parts from falling off from the constant movement (Lacroix 19). Ford had also put a planetary transmission into the car, which gave it a sense of power (Walton 73). It made the car roll with out touching the gas. Henry added a windshield to the car to keep everything outside out and everything inside in.
By making improvements like this sales went from 1,035 in 1907 to 15,000,000 in 1927 (Lacroix 132). With his improvements he had also brought improvements onto society itself (Sanchez 112). He had led to improvements like urbanization, roads, and faster means of travel, and also benefits to nearly every other company (Sanchez 115). People around America praised the Model T, other than urbanization, and roads being created they were happy about the fact that they could sleep a little longer because there was no slow travel anymore (Sanchez 114).
Through the time that the Ford Motor Company was at its peak so was the Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog. The catalog had over five thousand items that could be strapped on, screwed on and also put into the Model T. Everyone and everything had been touched by the Model T in some way. With a slogan that said, ” You can’t get more for under $2,000″ you really couldn’t go wrong (Walton 91).
Thinking that something would go wrong, John Burroghs, a friend and a poet had written a letter to Henry Ford saying that his car would ruin nature and hurt the planet. Henry had sent him a car and John Burroghs never looked back, he loved the car so much that he said, “It has added a new joy to my life” (Walton 117). Most people felt the same way that Burroghs had felt, having control to get to wherever they wanted to bring a sense of power to them.
Ford continued to produce the Model T for the next 20 years. He was able to achieve dominance over this time period through the assembly line. By using the assembly line he was able to make chassis from the previous twelve and a half-hours down to five hours and forty-five minutes (Lacroix 68). Ford still believed that he could cut the time down even more so, instead of having the worker move to that product he had the product move to that worker. He had cut the time from five hours and forty-five minutes to an impressive ninety-three minutes (Lacroix 68). This made production go from about five a day to about one hundred a day (Lacroix 70).
Another achievement of Henry was interchangeable parts. By using interchangeable parts for cars they were more easily repaired when damage was created (Lacroix 71).
Although Henry had such dominance he had never once changed the design on the Model T (Sanchez 116). He had kept the same design for nearly twenty years and because of this he lost ground to his competitors everyday. This had hurt business substantially so on May 31st, 1927 Henry Ford shut the doors of the Ford Motor Company and retooled all of his machines (Walton 87). They had prepared to start working on the newly designed Model A, and they also tried to bring back their dominance (Walton 89). This had never happened even though the Model A was a big seller and so was their V8, which was the first of its kind. They could not set themselves back atop the rest of the competition because there was just so much more this time around.
Henry was a successful man but his inability to see changes in society had led to his downfall as the #1 car maker in the United States. He did make a wise decision though in handing his company down to his son who was the most capable of running his own fathers company. Henry showed a lot of courage in producing automobiles. At first people really didn’t think that they would ever work, become popular, or even be accepted by society, but Henry continued on none the less (Lacroix 76).
To this day we still enjoy the effects of the Model T. With the Model T being created nearly every other industry was created off of it or were revolutionized. Movies at one point were drive ins, without the car there is no drive in. Food industries revolutionized, fast food was created and the assembly was and still is to this day in effect at fast food restaurants. One thing that is really enjoyable and is a direct result of the Model T is the creation of suburbia. With out the Model T being created there would be no suburbs. Everyone would be living in the city still or fairly close to it because of the lack of transportation. Because of the Model T though people can have the enjoyment of using their cars to travel from home to work and work to home (Kuralt Video).
The Model T, although not an expensive car, gave people a sense of power and richness (Kuralt Video). It made people feel like they were above other people. In today’s society that is true as well, people these days don’t drive Model T’s but they drive luxury cars and sports cars. These cars give the same sense of power and rich feeling to people.
He opened many doors for the world, allowed for faster communication and travel (Lacroix 76). Even if he didn’t have an eye for change he did have a mind full of ideas. With people like this throughout history a change of some sort can almost always be expected. If there had never been a Henry Ford and a Ford Motor Company then where would we be today? It is because of people that have courage our society was able to advance so rapidly and change in so many different ways.
Lacroix, Samuel. Henry Ford: The men and the machine.
St.Louis: James Donahue, 1983
On the Road. With Charles Kuralt, No Director Listed, CBS
Sanchez, Nicholas “100 Most Important Americans in the 20th
Century” Life Fall 1990, pp. 112-116
Walton, Chelle Henry and Clara Ford. Boston: Charles
Wamner, John “Henry Ford: Detroit’s Big Wheel” Time
December 1988, 29-35