Little Bits of History

Model T & A

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 27, 2011

1908 Ford Model T ad from Oct. 1, 1908 Life magazine

May 27, 1927: Ford Motor Company begins retooling plants. The Ford Model T began production in 1908. The car was also called the Tin Lizzie, Flivver, or simply T. The car’s popularity was such that it’s availability marks the general popularity of the automobile in general. It was the first affordable automobile and opened up travel to middle America and in years to come, the world. The assembly line production reduced costs and workers were paid a wage large enough to be able to afford to buy a car. This produced a ready market for the commodity. The first car was produced on August 12, 1908 and left the factory on September 27, 1908.

The Model T was not the first car Henry Ford produced. The company began in 1903 and he built a prototype Model A. There were not models built for every letter although the car just prior to the Model T was the Model S, the car the S replaced was the Model N. The Model T was designed by Childe Harold Wills along with Joseph A. Galamb and Eugene Farkas and team of other engineers. Within ten years, half the cars in America were Ford’s Tin Lizzie. Most of them were black. The color was durable and lasted well. Thirty different black paints were used, however from 1908 to 1914 and again in 1926 and 1927, other colors (red, blue, green, and gray) were available.

The car got 25 miles to the gallon and had a 20-horsepower engine running a two speed transmission and could reach 45 mph. Vanadium steel gave the car both durability and a lighter weight. In 1914, Ford put out 308,162 cars, more than all the other car makers combined. More than 15 million of the cars were made before production ceased on May 26, 1927. The next day, the retooling began for Ford’s new Model. Again, not quite following the alphabet, the next Model offered to the general public was the Model A.

The first A car rolled off the assembly line on October 20, 1927 but didn’t go on sale until December 2. It was called a 1927 model and came in four different colors, none of them black. Production of the Model A ended in March 1932 after nearly 5 million were made. The 40-horsepower engine got between 25 and 30 miles to the gallon and had a top speed of 65 mph. The wheelbase was slightly wider than the T and it had a 3 speed transmission with a 1 speed reverse. The Model A also came in a variety of styles – 25 of them. After retiring in 1932, it was replaced by the Model B.

“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

“A bore is a person who opens his mouth and puts his feats in it.”

“An idealist is a person who helps other people to be prosperous.”

“Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.” – all from Henry Ford

Also on this day:
No More Burnt Toast – In 1919 a toaster with a timer is patented.
St. Pete – In 1703, St. Petersburg, Russia was founded.

Ride, Sally, Ride

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 9, 2011

1964 Mustang

March 9, 1964: The first Ford Mustang rolls off the assembly line at the Dearborn, Michigan plant. The car was introduced at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964 and made its national debut on all three major television networks on April 19. It was one of the most successful car launches of all time, selling over 1 million cars in the first 18 months of production. This was gratifying, coming on the heels of the miserable failure that was the spectacularly unsuccessful launch of the Ford Edsel just a few years earlier.

The car was first conceived as a 2-seater, mid-engine roadster by Donald Fry. The design was championed by Lee Iacocca and remodeled as a 4-seater by David Ash and Joseph Oros, winning an intramural design contest sponsored by Iacocca. To cut down on production costs, the car was based on familiar, simple components used in the Falcon and Fairlain models, both already in production. The insides were very similar to the above cars, but the Mustang’s body shell was all new. Both convertibles and hardtops were produced. Since the car was introduced six months ahead of a model year, it is often erroneously called a 1964 ½ model.

In the first two years, three plants with one each in California, Michigan, and New Jersey produced nearly 1.5 million Mustangs. The car was selling like hotcakes. Both GM and Chrysler were caught without a competing model. Chrysler had the Plymouth Barracuda that would eventually make for strong competition within muscle car sales. GM eventually responded with the Camero and the Firebird.

There have been five generations of Mustangs with each new generation showing innovations in design. The last generation debuted in 2005 with a new, sleek design. The car remains classified as a muscle car. That means that it contains a high performance engine, usually a V8, and has special engineering qualities that ensure maximum torque making the cars ideal for street or drag racing. These mid-sized cars are not to be confused with smaller sports cars, also built for speed, but usually with two seats and made more for touring at speed.

“You can even look at the hot-selling Mustang as kind of a glorified economy car.” – Patrick Anderson

“Ford Mustang is the hottest car in the industry, and its performance on the street and in the showrooms is beating everyone’s expectations.” – Steve Lyons

“This is how we allocate all our vehicles and have done so for 20-some years. What’s unusual is the demand. I don’t think there’s been anything this hot since the ’64 Ford Mustang.” – Dominic Infante

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” – William Pollard

Also on this day:
Glamour Doll – In 1959, Barbie was shown at the American International Toy Fair.
Jean Calas – In 1765, Jean Calas was exonerated.


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Synonymous with Failure

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 20, 2010

November 19, 1959: The Ford Motor Company announces the cessation of production for the entire Edsel line of cars. Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motors Co. had a son named Edsel. Edsel died on May 26, 1943 from cancer. Edsel’s son, Henry II took over the presidency of the car manufacturing venture on September 21, 1945. On September 28, 1948 he instructed the Forward Product Planning Committee to come up with a line of mid-priced cars.

The Ford Edsel

At the time, GM had Chevy, Olds, Pontiac, Buick, and Cadillac while Chrysler had Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler, and Imperial. Ford had only three divisions: Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln. As people could afford better cars, they fell through the pricing differentials offered by Ford. Big cars were impressive in 1948 but design was halted during the Korean War and by the time the Edsel line debuted in 1957 economy cars were making headway in the market.

There was a huge build-up prior to the launch of this new car. “E Day” was scheduled for September 4, 1957 when the 1958 model year cars were introduced. Only certain dealerships carried the new line. The car did not receive the hoped for accolades. There was a top rated TV special, The Edsel Show, that aired on October 13, 1957 but it could not overshadow the already mounting negative press.

The Edsel name is today synonymous with the term “failure.” What went wrong? There is no one answer but several factors contributed to the mess. The pricing was not much different from the Mercury line, the size of the car was wrong, the cars were poorly built and some even arrived at dealerships with lists of missing parts attached to the steering wheel. And the steering wheel was “wrong” because the gears were activated by buttons placed in the center where the horn “should” be. Of the almost 118,000 Edsels produced in the three years of production about 6,000 remain today and have their own cult following in the specialty car market.

“Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.” – George Eliot

“Only those who do nothing … make no mistakes.” – Joseph Conrad

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

“One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity more intelligently to being again.” – Henry Ford

Also on this day, in 1997 the McCaughey septuplets were born.

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You’re Out

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 13, 2010

Lee Iacocca

July 13, 1978: Henry Ford II fires Lee Iacocca after years of dispute. Iacocca joined Ford Motor Company after graduating from Princeton University in 1946. He was brilliant at sales and marketing and brought many buyers into the Ford showrooms in 1956 with a “56 for 56” campaign, selling many 1956 model year cars for the low monthly price of just $56. He was involved in the very successful development of the Ford Mustang and the less stellar Ford Pinto. Iacocca became President of the Ford Division on his 40th birthday. In 1978, Ford Motor Company showed a $2 billion profit.

The seventies were difficult for the Big Three car makers out of Detroit and Chrysler Corporation was backed against the wall, verging on dissolution. Chrysler was losing millions, due in large part to the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare recalls. They courted the newly fired Iacocca aggressively and he took up the challenge.

Iacocca took the reins and immediately started a restructuring process and rebuilt the company from the ground up. He laid off many workers, sold off Peugeot which was a losing division, and brought in many of his friends from Ford.

The gasoline shortages of the decade made the larger Chrysler-built cars less desirable. Iacocca developed two new subcompacts: Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon. Each of the new cars sold over 300,000 units their first year in production.

With severe cash flow problems, Iacocca secured loan guarantees from the US government in order to keep the company afloat. Iacocca continued making compact cars and subcompacts and also introduced the minivan to soccer moms across the US. He also brought the Jeep division into the Chrysler Corporation fold in 1987.

“There ain’t no free lunches in this country. And don’t go spending your whole life commiserating that you got raw deals. You’ve got to say, ‘I think that if I keep working at this and want it bad enough I can have it.'” – Lee Iacocca

“The unemployment rate is 100 percent if it is you who is unemployed.” – unknown

“Unemployment is a reproach to a democratic government.” – Joan Robinson

“When work is a pleasure, life is a joy. When work is a duty, life is slavery.” – Maxim Gorky

Also on this day, in 1923 the HOLLYWOODLAND sign was dedicated.
Bonus link: In  1812, New York passes a
pawnbroker ordinance.

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