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On This Day In Automotive History - October 1st, 1908 The release of the Ford Model T and how Henry Ford found his start.

The history of the Model T was Henry Ford’s first successful automobile, which set in motion a revolution of automobiles for everyone to enjoy.

Emily MacKinnon

Executive Assistant

On this day, October 1, 1908, the first production of the Model T is completed and shipped out to the first customer: it is painted black, made with vanadium alloy steel, has a top speed of 45 km/h, and sells for $850 (equating to roughly $25,000 today). It had a 22-Horsepower, 4-cylinder engine and could run on hemp-based fuel or gasoline.

On June 16th, 1903, Henry Ford founded his company, the Ford Motor Company. He didn't have much money at this time as he had just broken ties with investors that were rushing him and insisted, that he stops trying to improve everything. So he had to use whatever materials he could get cheaply – at the time wood frames were used for cars as they were cheaper than metal, this meant that the cars were less durable, and couldn't handle bumps in the road very well. This made the cars somewhat dangerous to drive. Henry's first car was the Model A. It was introduced in 1903 but wasn't successful at all, partly because it couldn’t handle the poor roads.

The Model T was his greatest success in 1908, due to its boundary-pushing features which other models had not seen before. The first vehicle to be made with Vanadium alloy steel, which was lightweight and had a taller ground clearance that could withstand bad road conditions. It introduced the first placement of the steering wheel on the left side, as well as the first vehicle with an engine block and crankcase cast as a single combined unit.

The automobile was so successful that Ford continued to produce it until 1927, making major changes in the car's design over the years. Henry and his car revolutionized the automobile industry.
Due in part to the success of the Model T, Henry was able to open up his first-ever automobile dealership known as The Henry Ford Company. By the 1920s more than half of the vehicles globally registered on the road were Ford's with more than 15,000,000 Model T’s having been made and sold.

Motor Revolution

Though Henry Ford was at the helm of this car revolution, there were others that had a hand in it as well.
In 1909 an auto dealer by the name of James Couzens when visiting his manufacturing assembly, suggested that Henry use a conveyor belt when moving cars from one place to another as they moved faster than horses did. Henry agreed and not long after he built a factory with such a system in Highland Park, Michigan; creating what we now know as production lines. In 1914 Ford changed the minimum wage above the industry standard at the time from $2.34 for a 9-hour day to $5 for the day.

By 1924 the River Rouge Ford Plant in Dearborn, Michigan was capable of manufacturing 10,000 Model T cylinder blocks in a day.

Before the Success – Henry Ford's story

  • Henry was born in 1863 in Dearborn Michigan.
  • Henry was a hard worker. He worked at his father's farm and would walk four miles to school every day, even in the winter. He attended a one-room schoolhouse for students aged six to 14.
  • At 16 he left Michigan for Detroit where he began working as a machinist apprentice for three years before returning to Michigan.
  • In 1888 he married his wife Clara who had grown up with him having a neighbouring farm nearby. He supported his wife by working as a sawmill operator.
  • In 1891 Henry accompanied by his wife, returned to Detroit and he began working at the Edison Illuminating Company as an engineer. Within 2 years he became the Chief Engineer.
  • In 1893 Henry and Clara have their only son Edsel Bryant Ford.
  • In 1896 Henry built in his shed at home his first Gasoline-powered Horseless carriage which he called the Quadricycle. Made from 4 bicycle wheels and a light metal frame, powered by a four-horsepower, two-cylinder gasoline engine.


Today, the Motor Company is a multinational company that is still an industry leader around the world. Henry Ford revolutionized how we drive today and our lifestyle in general.

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