FORD MODEL T 🔧 History: Henry Ford’s Automobile (Historical Documentary: Early American Automotive)


HOT ROD 100 Presents..
History of the Ford Model T Henry Ford had only a modest education
he didn’t invent the gasoline engine he didn’t invent the automobile in fact he
never really invented anything and yet by the time he died in 1947 Ford and the
company he founded had a profound effect on the world he taught to drive given
all that he accomplished it’s hard to believe that Henry Ford was almost 40
when he established the Ford Motor Company at the time America was more
agricultural and industrial and horseless carriages were toys for a
wealthy few but in just four decades Henry Ford had
in his own words invented the modern age join me now as biography presents Andry
Ford he gave the car to America I think an
important may have been the most influential man of the 20th century he
made bitter enemies he was a nasty individual he believed in hard work and
he demanded hard work to work in force at that time you had to give up dignity
manhood he was praised by everyone from President Herbert Hoover the public
enemy number 1 John Dillinger and he’s a man who changed the way we all live
he was an American legend who gave us mass production the Model T the v8 and
the traffic jam it’s all because of my great grandfather Henry Ford this man who gave America the
automobile and mass production was born while the Civil War was still raging July 30th 1863 William and Mary Ford the
owner of one of the more substantial homesteads in Dearborn Michigan had
their first surviving child a son Henry and report didn’t like the hard life of
farming that he’d been born into but at least the local one-room schoolhouse
offered some escape from the long hours and endless chores and he was naturally
curious Henry Ford was a natural-born mechanic he had an innate ability one of
the first places that he was able to begin to hone that ability was when he
received a watch for his 13th birthday like a lot of little boys who wanted to
know about machines he took that watch apart unlike most little boys he was
able to put the watch back together again but in 1876 Henry Ford’s orderly
world fell apart his beloved mother Mary died during childbirth
Henry was 12 the loss left him reeling Henry had a story about the first time
he ever saw a working machine it happened just after his mother had died
and psychologists wonder whether this had some sort of effect the two events
being linked he was going along with his father and he saw one of the farm
machines that were used in those days coming towards him down the track but
with one addition it was moving itself because the the engineer had fixed the
chain from the axle of the machine to the wheels so it was a sort of crude
self propelling motor car and for Henry Ford this was like the road to Damascus
he never seen anything like this Ford knew then that he wanted to work
with machines so at the age of 16 he left the farm and walked the nine miles
into Detroit there he eventually found worked at the dry dock company makers of
iron boats it gave him a chance to work on motors towards practical education had begun
after apprenticing for three years Henry Ford determined that he’d learned all he
was going to at the dry dock and returned to the family farm but he
didn’t leave his love of machines behind in the big city
he hired on with the Westinghouse company to demonstrate and repair
machines throughout southern Michigan during this period Henry met a young
friend of his sister Mary her name was Clara Bryant and he knew she was right
Clara resisted at first but finally relented on a spring day in 1888 wearing
a wedding dress she had made herself Clara Jane Bryant married Henry Ford Ford built this home for his young bride
and tried to settle down to life on the farm but the farmer’s life didn’t
satisfy Andrew Ford’s ambition the industrial age was taking root in the
cities and Ford wanted to be a part of the excitement on a trip to Detroit Ford
had become interested in the gasoline-powered automobile like this
one built by the Duryea brothers of Springfield Massachusetts there was a
revolution going on and Ford wanted in in 1891 Henry Ford moved his young wife
to Detroit and took a job at the Edison illuminating company here he moved
swiftly through the ranks more than doubling his starting salary when he was
promoted to chief engineer and the extra income helped on November 6th 1893 Clara
Ford gave birth to a hardy baby boy Edsel Bryant Ford newly inspired Ford
set out to build that gasoline-powered vehicle that had been taking shape in
his mind Henry Swan had an enormous capacity of a
concentration he became something of a math professor when he was actually
working on a project and so when he was building his first internal combustion
engine his own version of it he got so wrapped up that he brought it home on
Christmas Eve when his poor wife was cooking the turkey and getting the meal
ready and everything and right in the middle of all this he stuck the machine
on the kitchen sink screwed it to the sink
got his wife who’s whose hands were all covered with gravy and stuff to actually
drip gasoline into the top of it he connected the wires and started the
machine and was quite oblivious to the fact that he was filling the kitchen
with clouds of exhaust smoke in a shed behind his home Ford’s
automobiles slowly took shape with the help of friends from the Edison Company
he began building the vehicle he called the quadricycle it was called this for
good reason his plan called for two bicycles to be placed side by side and
powered by a crude gasoline engine on the night of June 4th 1896 he was ready
for a test run aside from one breakdown the trip was a success
Henry Ford had made his first car it was only three years later that Ford took a
local backer for a ride around Detroit by the time that ride was over they were
in business the Detroit automobile company opened
with Ford as the mechanical superintendent but the venture only
lasted a year Ford could make a car run but he wasn’t capable yet of
manufacturing enough of those cars to make a company
Ford wasn’t discouraged though he hatched a new plan to build a racer Ford
saw racing as a way to spread the the word about his cars and spread the name
of his cars that was one of the reasons that he and his backers in his second
company finally parted the part of the way is because they got tired of him
racing they wanted him to devote his energies to the production car the Ford
continued racing and with the notoriety got the backers he needed to form the
Ford Motor Company he designed his company’s first car and set out to
conquer production problems that had plagued him in the past he set up shop
hired men put out a car and waited in July nineteen three Ord sold his first
car a Model A to a Chicago dentist two-time failure Henry Ford at the age
of 40 was about to experience success beyond anything he dreamed possible by 1904 over 500 Model A’s had been sold
Henry Ford here pictured with his son Edsel T celebrated this success by
buying his first dress-suit at the same time Ford Motor Company was
upgrading the line with the model B it was bigger more powerful and
considerably more expensive than the Model A but Henry Ford just couldn’t get
comfortable with the notion of a luxury car from the beginning there seemed to
have been two strands in American car making there were the people who are
making horseless carriages for the rich loading them down making them heavy and
luxurious and then there was Henry Ford who had this idea that a car should be
able to go along the rutted tracks should be able to drive across a plowed
field a farmer should be able to use it and take a wheel off it and fix a chain
to it and and cut some trees down or hustle some corn that was all he was
interested in from the start Henry Ford brought this vision into the shop and
tinkered until he came up with his ideal automobile the Model T the Model T was
simple reliable for its day it was very very rugged it had very high it was
fairly high off the ground a good ground clearance which sounds like an odd thing
to use in his advantage but in the days when roads were often wagon ruts with
ground clearance was very important and it was also cheap the Model T was an astounding success it
went on sale in October 1980 and within a few months Ford was forced to announce
that the company couldn’t accept new orders the factory was already swamped
months behind Henry Ford had succeeded in making an automobile for the masses
but it left him with a problem how to build up production to satisfy demand at
the time craftsman building cars at stationary workbenches could produce 25
Model T’s a day but 25 1 enough so Henry Ford and his engineers came up with a
revolutionary new idea the moving assembly line August 1913 a chassis was put in motion
at Ford’s Highland Park plant it moved past a line of carefully positioned men
and components at peak efficiency the old system had spit out a finished T in
12 and a half man-hours with the chassis in motion that time dropped to less than
half in a year it took just 93 minutes to make a car with production getting
more and more efficient Ford was able to cut hundreds of dollars off the price of
his car cutting prices enabled Ford to achieve what he claimed were his two
aims in life to bring the pleasures of the automobile to as many people as
possible and to provide a large number of high paying jobs for his workers but
there was a factor in the equation that he hadn’t yet considered mass production
was burning up labour the worker had only to do a single task as the job
passed his station time after time hour after hour day after day the endless
repetition took its toll the work at Ford’s at that time you had to give up
your dignity your manhood and your self sense you had no control over those
things at all you just at the mercy of the Ford Motor Company if you worked on
that Lane you you sweated you you really were you were there’s kind of a slave
for that way and you went to bed that night and you dreamed about but working
you worked all night long in your dreams the turnover rate became such a problem
that the company had to hire close to a thousand men for every hundred jobs you
hope to fill and hiring and training men cost money something had to be done
again Ford came up with an answer the five dollar day Henry Ford would pay his
workers more than twice the going rate it was front page news across the
country workers flocked to the gates of Ford Motor Company the five dollar day
made good business sense but Ford was also genuinely trying to improve the
lives of his workers Henry Ford had experienced a healthy dose of success
with the Model T and again with the five dollar day on the strength of this
public approval Ford began to feel that he should speak out on other issues with Europe exploding into war he tried
international politics a young reporter sent out to interview Ford came back
with a story quoting the car maker is saying that he would give everything he
possessed to stop the war as the story spread a noted peace activist approached
Henry Ford she found him a willing listener
Ford agreed to attend a meeting that very weekend in New York there his name
was added to a delegation that would petition the warring governments they
weren’t the sort of people that he would normally have got involved in but they
did flatter him it was a simple sort of solution charter a ship go to Europe
stop the war Henry Ford can produce a Model T
why can’t he stop a world war it was it was an illustration both of his idealism
and now of his arrogance the peace delegation was far from United around
the cause as members fell to arguing and backbiting the shipboard press delighted
in sending scathing stories home by the time the ship docked in Norway Ford was
deeply discouraged he left for the state’s just a few days after landing back home though Ford found himself
again a hero to the common man a modern-day Don Quixote maybe it had been
foolish to think that he could end the war but even his critics admitted that
at least he had tried when America did enter the war Henry Ford stood by his
country with American boys leaving home Ford opened his company’s facilities to
the government the government and the country for that matter considered Henry
Ford capable of producing miracles novelties served as ambulances and staff
car and with allied shipping in the North
Atlantic plagued by German submarines the Navy turned to Ford to build the
Eagle boat a sub chaser but by Armistice Day only a handful had been delivered with the war over Ford could turn his
attention to other matters and there was one matter he found especially
irritating it was the issue of who really controlled Ford Motor Company
I think things really began to change for Henry Ford in 1919 when he bought
out all his stockholders and he increasingly felt that they were
interfering with the way he wanted to run the company and with his wife and
with Edsel became the sole owners of for moto from that point on he personally
had the majority stock from that point on he was in effect dictator of Ford
Motor Company he didn’t have to answer to anybody else personally now I think this is a classic
case of absolute power corrupts and what Henry Ford planned to do with
that power was far grander than anything he had done before the tough shrewd
businessmen that ran Ford Motor Company was a much different man at home with
the family as I remember my great-grandfather he was very sort of
tall and thin and he had the most incredibly hard handshake and I remember
that because each time I went there he always shook my hand first and then gave
me a kiss alone and I always used to think oh my god he’s broken my bones
he was very soft as far as being around children was concerned I mean he wasn’t
don’t do this don’t do that that kind of thing I think he enjoyed it when we did come
around to play Henry Ford was a dreamer once the old stockholders had been
bought out he was free to lead Ford Motor Company anywhere his imagination
took in and that was often a long way from auto making he also produced the
Fordson tractor he tried to bring aviation to everyone’s
driveway with a single passenger flivver playing henry ford operated an early
airmail route and the first regularly scheduled passenger flights here
promoted by the our gang kids he set up and funded several experimental schools
and at the Edison Institute at Greenfield Village Ford’s Museum and
restored American town he created the tribute to the spirit of innovation
honoring such greats as his friend Thomas Edison but the grandest of Henry
Ford’s dreams was the Rouge a plant that was itself a giant machine he built that
plant along the banks of the Rouge River in Dearborn Michigan and in its time it
was the greatest industrial complex on earth it is still today an industrial wonder a
lasting tribute to the power of Henry Ford’s dreams and his incredible
determination about the time that the first blast furnaces at the Rouge were
being fired Henry Ford again offered the world his thinking but this time his
thinking was tainted by anti-semitism anti-semitism was a very common in the
farm communities of the Midwest at the end of the last century it went with
mistrust of the east of the banking system all sorts of things like this and
Henry Ford’s prejudices were those of an ordinary Midwest farmer the tragedy of
it was that he had the money and the conceit to put his ideas on paper and
actually publish his own magazine which spread it all around America and of
course made him a laughingstock through the Dearborn independent Ford
blamed the Jewish people for everything from World War two short skirts cheap
movies and jazz music it wasn’t until he faced a libel suit public disapproval
and the continued pleas of friends that Henry Ford tendered an apology but there
were those who doubted the sincerity of that apology in July 1938 Ford accepted
Germany’s Grand Cross the highest honor the Third Reich could bestow on a
foreigner as the twenties war on Rouge workers
continued to pump out hundreds of thousands of Model T’s but Henry Ford
began to find himself falling behind the times he liked an older America he was
never comfortable in the modern world that he had helped to shape his son
Edsel by this time second-in-command at Ford was from another generation
entirely he liked jazz contemporary art and an occasional cocktail Henry Ford
was a teetotaler he preferred bird-watching and old-time
country dancing in this rare footage for demonstrates just how far he’d go to
popularize those old steps even choosing an occasional Ford executive as a
partner while Henry Ford was dancing the marketplace was changing in ways that he
could never understand for the first time in almost two decades Ford’s tin
Lizzie had a serious competitor the car that really did in the Model T was the
Chevrolet General Motors recognized fairly early what Edsel Ford had
recognized that once the market was the actual need for automobiles was
satisfied you needed a way to continue to convince people to buy new cars even
if they didn’t really need one even if they’re old one wasn’t worn out one of
the ways you do that is to change the way of cars looked every year and you
make the car look more pleasing in May 1927 the Model T era came to a close the
success of the Chevrolet demonstrated that the public wanted style and not
just utility the tin Lizzie was hopelessly outdated relegated to a
recycling campaign for years Ford Motor Company had been
dedicated to a single purpose producing Model T’s what the market demanded
change EPSA 1 that really convinced his father Henry Ford that you know we ought
to bring up the Model A dad because the T is a perfectly good car but we built
it for 20 years and we haven’t made any changes and change was just what Ford
needed but it came at a cost thousands of Ford workers were laid off they sat
home six months while Henry Ford tried to figure out some way to get back into
the marketplace at the age of 64 he was starting over but the old man was up to
the challenge with the release of a brand new model a Ford Motor Company
came roaring back to life Model A was an excellent automobile it wasn’t it wasn’t
revolutionary like the Model T it wasn’t a car that pushed the boundaries of
automobile design but it was a thoroughly up-to-date thoroughly modern
car the Model A was a rare triumph for the partnership of Henry and Edsel Ford
over the years their relationship had fallen apart Henry wanted his son to be
tougher more assertive he thought that reversing his son’s decisions and
disagreeing with him at every turn he would force Edsel to fight back
I think he was just a weaker person he didn’t have the strength I mean a Henry
Ford I think was much tougher Edsel was just a really nice guy
well nice guys don’t necessarily go places in life with the success of the
Model A though Henry and Edsel Ford were going in the same direction it was
perhaps the only automobile on which the two really collaborated very much Henry
had a lot to do with the mechanical details of the car
Edsel had a lot to do with the way the car looked had they been able to
collaborate like that both earlier and had they been able to
continue that collaboration Ford might not have lost its lead to General Motors October 1929 shocking news from Wall
Street the stock market had crashed millions were out of work of course
Ford’s great personal fortune kept him far removed from the nation’s suffering normally public speaking paralyzed Ford
but here he joined good friends Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone in an
historic radio broadcast offering their wisdom on the depression as removed from
the suffering of the common man as Henry Ford and become even he was about to
find the depression striking close to home right at the gates of his great
Rouge River plant the Depression devastated working
America for many there were no jobs no money no hope
Ford Motor Company was better off than most the company rode out the first year
or two on the strong showing of the model a Henry Ford even fought a one-man
war against the depression by raising his workers wages and dropping the price
of his automobile but he could only hold out for so long in 1931 the depression
caught up to Ford after three years on the market model a sales fell
dramatically the Chevrolet with its six-cylinder engine and the new Plymouth
cut into Ford’s market share once again Ford was forced to shut down production
and send workers home those who stayed found their wages cut frustration boiled
over on a bitterly cold day a crowd gathered to march on the Rouge plant and
confront Henry Ford with a demand for more jobs at the Dearborn City Limits local police
had masked but the marchers ignored their orders to disperse police attacked
and a full-scale riot broke out machine gun fire finally dispersed the
crowd in the aftermath of the fighting for
young marchers lay dead a fifth died several days later there
were no new jobs what finally brought the workers back to the ruse was yet
another of Henry Ford’s inspirations the Ford v8 the v8 was Ford’s last great
triumph Chevrolet had brought out a six cylinder engine which was more powerful
than forged four Henry didn’t like six-cylinder engines so he wanted to go
to a v8 a v8 Ford something that a roadster
could probably do 7080 miles an hour you strip it like though even faster
tributes from all over celebrated Ford’s returned to genius his fan mail included
some surprises John Dillinger public enemy number one wrote Henry Ford saying
hello old pal you have a wonderful car it’s a treat to drive one your slogan
should be drive a Ford and watch the other cars fall behind you I can make
any other car take a Ford’s dust and Clyde Barrow Bonnie and Clyde Fame also
felt moved to compliment Ford even if my business hasn’t been strictly legal he
wrote it don’t hurt anything to tell you what a fine car you got in the v8 with
the success of the v8 Ford found time to turn his attention to Herbert Hoover’s
1932 re-election campaign Ford was still painfully shy about public speaking but
he offered these words Americans and record numbers disagreed
with Henry quartz politics in 1932 but given the sales of his v8 Henry Ford and
his son Edsel had reason to feel optimistic as they looked ahead they’ve
been asking us what we think of the coming year all I can say is that we
feel pretty good about the outlook in the United States even when it is
running in lowers a pretty big business proposition but I believe the country is
getting ready to make a very decided step forward next year and we’re doing
all that we can to help it along what do you think of that father
well I think everybody has decided that they’ve got to go to work and I think
from now on there’s no one can stop this great country from going ahead and those
that went to work at Ford found Labor Relations falling apart Henry Ford said
that the average man wouldn’t do a day’s work unless he was clocked and couldn’t
get out of it inside his plants he saw to it that
nobody shortchanged him ford supervisors and foreman many of the Mex cons and
boxers ruled the plant through fear and coercion when more production was needed
the line was simply sped up heaven helped the man who couldn’t keep pace
the whip was hired I used to come home so tired
my wife just have to rub my hands because he used a hand salon and and
fall asleep I used to fall asleep reading a newspaper I’m just a young man
my working life at Ford I’ve never been to hell but heard a lot
about it so it was like working in hell the harassment the threats the working
conditions and they continued watching over you by what they had called at that
time Starman it was like big brother was
watching you Henry Ford was behind everything in the 1930s he he cloaked
what he was doing behind something called the service department and the
goons that he employed to terrorize workers but there’s no doubt it’s what
it’s what Henry Ford wanted as well he’d become old his arteries at hardened in
terms of his spirit he was a different man from the young an idealist who’d who
got things started Ford and his workers had come a long way
together over those years first through generosity later through intimidation he
had been able to hold the line against the unions
even after Chrysler and General Motors had been organized but finally in May of
37 hostilities reached a head union organizers led by Walter Reuther and
Richard frank enstein had received a permit to hand out
leaflets at Ford they made it to the top of the overpass leading to the plant
then they were met by members of the ford service department the fight at the gates of Ford left the
union leaders battered but no further ahead in their struggle it took another
four years of pushing and pulling before something finally broke April 1st 1941
and the doer one of the workers in the rolling mill changed labor history at
Ford one day and it just got fed up you know and he and the foreman had an
argument you know all of a sudden we did Irish brogue a Scottish brogue god
dammit I’m tired of taking this BS and away from being strikes I’m gonna strike
it Oh strike strike the guy with Holland it just be strike strike you know strike
strike just from one department to the other in the rolling mill that’s where
all the finish of the steel with me without steel you can’t make a damn car
Ford was preparing for a long fight when his wife surprised him by joining the
battle Clara Ford demanded that he settled with
the Union it was totally out of character for her to interfere but Clara
was afraid the situation would explode into real violence and so she threatened
to leave her husband if he didn’t put an end to the hostilities Ford called his
representative and told him to sign and that was that Ford Motor Company was a
union shop while peace was restored for the moment
Henry Ford was about to face personal tragedy on its most profound level Edsel
Ford had been president of Ford Motor Company since he was 25 years old but
that was never any doubt about who really ran the show Henry Ford was an
engineer in a tinkerer and that’s what was a completely different man that’s
what was a very gentle man it was a man who endowed the Arts in Detroit Etzel
was a designer Etzel was a modern thinker and he was the kind of man it
seems to me that his father Henry Ford had a difficult time dealing with
because they were really opposite personalities I think Henry Ford the
history Brooks will always look upon the first Henry Ford as as you know the
originator of the company and so forth and so on and yeah I do absolutely
believe that so Ford was under Walker what Edsel Ford lacked was the ability
to stand up to his father for years Henry Ford undermined his son at every
opportunity in a campaign to make him stronger Edsel Ford internalized the
conflict and carried on at Ford his steady presence of balance to Henry’s
unpredictable ways when world war ii broke out the Allies suffered defeat
after defeat the nation naturally looked to industry for help everyone was
expected to pitch in Ford was asked to produce jeeps troop
carriers trucks tanks and more but the company’s most important project was the
b-24 Liberator bomber before to coaching his 80th birthday and
not yet recovered from a 1941 stroke Supervision fell largely to Edsel and he
had medical problems of his own still company spokesmen were optimistic
enough to predict that one b-24 would roll out of their plant every hour but
by the end of 40 to only 56 planes had been built for shores of the prediction in may 1943 Edsel Ford died a number of
illnesses contributed to his death stomach cancer liver cancer and in the
last irony undulant fever the result of drinking unpasteurized milk from his
father’s dairy and he said that Henry Ford was never
the same after his son’s death but at the age of 80 in spite of his
clearly diminished capacity the old man once again took up the reins of Ford
Motor Company the news concerned Washington as the nation’s third largest
defense contractor Ford was a major part of the war effort with production in
serious trouble there was talk of bringing in outside managers or even
nationalizing the plant in August 1943 the Navy sent 26 year-old henry ford ii
home to Dearborn and the Ford Motor Company maybe Henry Ford’s grandson
could bring some order to the chaos that Ford had become one of the executives of
Ford after the Second World War Jack Davis said the company wasn’t dying it
was dead and rigor mortis had already set in four months Clara Ford had been
pushing her husband to step down and let their grandson take over but Ford held
out finally Edd’s olds Widow Eleanor confronted him
father-in-law she threatened to sell her considerable holdings in Ford if her son
wasn’t immediately named president the old man finally relented
in September 1945 the crown was passed to Henry Ford the second with his active
role in the company behind him Henry Ford began to disconnect from the world
he passed some time at Greenfield Village and was trotted out on occasion
at a company function but the stores of energy that had sustained him well into
his 70s had been spent on an April evening in 1947 Henry Ford laid his head
on his wife’s shoulder and drifted away the cause of death was a cerebral
hemorrhage he was 83 tens of thousands of people lined up to view Henry Ford’s
body as it lay in state some factories closed others shut down
for a moment of silence in all it’s estimated that close to 7 million
workers were involved in some demonstration of sympathy for the man
who had irrevocably changed their lives and in Detroit motorists were asked to
come to a complete stop at the time the automaker’s body was being lowered into
the ground for that second the automobiles came to a stop Detroit was
returned to the way Henry Ford had found it it had already been raining a couple of
days in Michigan when Henry Ford returned home from a vacation it was the
spring of 47 on his second day back the Rouge River flooded and took out the
private powerhouse that supplied his home with heat and light that evening
and rain his wife turned in early the power still hadn’t returned in their
room was lit only by an oil lamp and a few candles before the night was out
Henry Ford the father of mass production the inventor of the modern age left the
world just as he had come into it 84 years earlier by candlelight you you you