Ford's Millennium Story: Technology Drives Change
"Henry Ford and his dream changed and defined the 20th century-and that innovative spirit drives Ford Motor Company today." --Bill Ford, Jr.
The Ford Motor Company story, in a sense, is the story of 20th century personal transportation. From the Model T, through Ford's sports and concept cars of the mid-century, to the environmental strides of recent years, Ford continues to shape our lives at the dawn of the new millennium.
The contributions of Henry Ford were recently recognized by Fortune magazine when it named him "Businessman of the Century," for making transportation available to the masses, and pioneering the moving assembly line in manufacturing.
Ford Revolutionizes Personal Transportation
Henry Ford I with the quadricycle
On June 4, 1896, Henry Ford completed his first automobile, the quadricycle. After putting on the finishing touches in a shed behind his home at 58 Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Ford took the quadricycle out for a test drive in the middle of the night. In 1903, Ford Motor Company was incorporated and began production of the Model A in a converted wagon factory on Mack Avenue.
Between 1903 and 1908, Henry Ford and his engineers feverishly developed 19 different vehicles-naming them for each letter of the alphabet, from Model A to Model S. Some of these cars were experimental models which never reached the public. Some had two cylinders, some had four, and one had six; some had a chain drive and some a shaft drive; and in two, the engine was placed beneath the driver's seat. Perhaps the most successful of the production cars was the Model N-a small, light, four-cylinder machine which went on the market at $500.
Model T - From the collections of Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village and Ford Motor Company.
The Model T was introduced on October 1, 1908 and quickly won the approval of millions of Americans, who affectionately dubbed it "Lizzie." Besides providing independence and opportunity, the Model T was also affordably priced. The car initially sold for $850, but continual improvements in design and production eventually lowered the price to $260. The first year's production of Model Ts reached 10,660, breaking all records for the industry. By 1921, Model Ts accounted for 56.6% of world auto production.
In 1914, Ford developed the world's first moving assembly line, and bolstered the economy by instituting the five-dollar work day. This pay rate was about twice what skilled workers normally received, putting car ownership within the reach of those who built the cars. When the five-dollar work day was announced, approximately ten thousand men showed up in freezing weather to apply for jobs at the Ford's Highland Park plant. Ford paid half in wages, and half in profit-sharing, which was linked to how employees lived their home lives.
Ford shapes era of optimism after WWII, and looks to the 21st century
At the end of World War II, a new optimism swept the nation. Ford reflected this attitude by introducing daring new concept vehicles for future generations.
The Thunderbird name originates in Arizona and New Mexico, where the legendary Thunderbird is said to rule the sky and divinely assist humans. Like its namesake, the Ford Thunderbird has become an American legend, firmly established in American culture. The "T-Bird" came to represent the carefree and youthful attitude of the 1950s and 1960s in songs like Fun, Fun, Fun, by the Beach Boys, and the classic youth culture movie, American Graffiti. In 1961, the car caught the eye of newly elected President John F. Kennedy, who showed his passion for the car by including 50 of them in his inaugural procession.
Introduced at the Detroit auto show on February 20, 1954, the Thunderbird quickly became a favorite among those who appreciated innovative styling and daring design. The 1955 two-seat convertible model debuted at $2,650 base price, featuring the removable hardtop, clock, tachometer, power-operated seats and a 292 CID V-8 engine as standard equipment. More than 3,500 orders were placed in the first ten-day selling period, totaling over a third of the 10,000 unit volume planned for the whole year. This car was deemed a "classic" by Dave Garroway of the Today show only four years after production halted in 1957, and has been prized by collectors ever since.
The 1962 Thunderbird introduced the "projectile" look, a design featuring full-length body sculpting and a thinner roof than previous models. Standard equipment included automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes. The 1962 roadster was introduced at $5,439 with 1,882 units produced over two years.
The early 1980s saw a completely different direction for Thunderbird-it was smaller, more angular in styling and targeted to a more conservative, fuel-conscious customer. The 1983 Ford Thunderbird ushered in Ford's new "aero-style" design, paving the way for the revolutionary shape of the 1986 Ford Taurus.
1964 1/2 Mustang
Lee Iacocca, then the General Manager of the Ford Division, personally convinced Henry Ford II and a skeptical finance department to pursue the startling concept of an inexpensive sporty new vehicle targeted to the young buyer. Start-up costs were a mere $75 million due to the incorporation of the existing Falcon engine, transmission and axle, but the return investment would prove phenomenal. The Mustang exploded onto the scene in a 1964 introduction at the New York World's Fair that drew throngs to showrooms across the country. Such intense interest hadn't been witnessed since the introduction of the Model A.
The sharp, four-seat 1965 Mustang became the darling of America, as Ford sold 100,000 units in the first 100 days. This car had the attributes of a sports car yet remained simple and affordable at an introductory price of $2,320-about half the price of a Chevrolet Corvette. It was offered in six colors: "Grabber Green Metallic," "Grabber Blue," "Grabber Orange," "Grabber Green," "Grabber Yellow," and "Grabber Lime."
The Mustang has been featured in many films such as the 1965 James Bond thriller, Goldfinger, and the 1988 baseball classic, Bull Durham. Celebrity owners have included Jay Leno, Cher, Sonny Bono, Lindsay Wagner, baseball star Reggie Jackson, and President Bill Clinton. In its 35 year history, more than 6.9 million Mustangs have been sold in the United States.
1948 Ford F-1 Pickup
One of the Henry Ford's last major programs was a new product line which would be known as the F-Series family of trucks. Although Ford had handed the reins of the company over to his grandson Henry Ford II in 1945, the senior statesman of Ford Motor Company still took an active interest in company plans, including plans for what would eventually become the immensely popular F-Series.
The first F-Series trucks were introduced in 1948, the year after Henry Ford's death. The lineup for the new trucks included the Ford F-7 and F-8, Ford Motor Company's first "medium duty" trucks. The big trucks were powered by a newly developed gasoline-fueled Lincoln V-8 engine and had maximum Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings (GVWR) of 21,500 pounds.
In the 1950s, the second-generation heavier duty "Fs" used a revised numbering system going from single-digits to hundreds, and featured setback front axles and a high "greenhouse." The largest of the new trucks, the F-900, placed Ford in the Class 7 market segment for the first time.
In the mid-1990s, a new naming system was instituted, corresponding the models' numerical designations to their weight classifications: the F-150 would be a Class 1, the F-250 would be a Class 2, etc. The F-150 had been the first of a series of new "Fs" which would be rolled out over the last half of the 1990s. For the first time, All F-Series trucks would share a definite "family" appearance, although there would be distinct differences in the styling and overall size of the Class 1 and 2, Class 3-5, and Class 6 and 7 trucks.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Ford produced many concept vehicle models to explore design and technology possibilities for the future. While most vehicles served only for study purposes and garnering customer feedback, they often would indicate a line shape or curve for the current models.
Providing a glimpse of the atomic-powered future, the Nucleon carried an atomic core in a reactor at the rear of the car, under what looked like a spot for a spare tire. An atomic-powered car could be driven up to 5,000 miles before recharging at a facility similar to modern-day gas stations. It was designed under the assumption that the bulkiness and weight of 1950s nuclear reactors and their shielding would someday be reduced.
The Volante represented a concept design for a vehicle that might be capable of operating either in the air or on the ground. This car, had it been produced, would be powered by means of three fan units arranged in a triangular pattern which would provide both lift and thrust. The forward unit featured two sets of rotating blades, while two fans in the rear would rotate in the opposite direction to off-set torque.
1955 Futura (aka The Batmobile)
Designed as a "laboratory on wheels," the Futura was adapted by ABC studios to serve as the "Batmobile" on its "Batman" television series, which aired from 1966 to 1968. The car was built at an original cost of $250,000 and was 19 feet long, but only 52.8 inches high. Revolutionary features on this vehicle included twin domes and push-button control for the Turbo-Drive automatic transmission.
[Press kit includes other slides of Ford concept vehicles, which are appropriately labeled.]
Technology Today Shapes Vehicles of Tomorrow.
Today, Ford is using an array of advanced technologies to help streamline design and manufacturing as well as bring exciting new vehicles and features to customers.
Environmental Technologies target "Zero Emissions" early in the new millennium
P2000 Fuel Cell Vehicle
uses hydrogen and water as fuel, producing only water vapor as an emission.
Computers revolutionize product development and in-vehicle experience
C3P Virtual Factory
C3P Virtual Factory: C3P virtual factory saves time and money by providing a model of the production line for engineers to study, thus eliminating costly changes to the factory once it is built.
Lifestyle Demonstration Vehicle (LSDV)
: The LSDV demonstrates Ford's efforts to integrate next-generation technology into cars and trucks. Many of LSDV's features, including voice- activated e-mail and news information applications, come from Ford's continuing partnership with the computer industry.
Ford cars and trucks reflect passion, links to heritage and diversity of American customers
: Classic styling cues combined with modern elements define the concept Thunderbird. From the machined aluminum egg-crate grille and hood scoop to the leather-wrapped instrument panel and porthole window, any enthusiast will spot the touches of heritage. Yet this concept vehicle is a decidedly modern machine, forward-looking in design with turn-of-the millennium features.
: The ultimate utility vehicle, the Lincoln Blackwood is a four-door, four-passenger extension of the Lincoln Navigator with one important difference: an enclosed five foot box that serves as a trunk. The Blackwood, like all Ford SUVs and pickups, will be a low-emission vehicle.
: As an all-new entry into the fast-growing luxury sports sedan segment, the Lincoln LS is designed to target the contemporary luxury buyer with an American-built, driver-oriented, luxury sports sedan. It offers athletic and confident performance while surrounding its occupants with comfortable, yet functional, luxury. LS also establishes a new level of affordable luxury, with the most competitively priced V-8 in the segment.
: The all-new 2000 Ford Focus is designed to raise the standard of what a small car should be with new levels of roominess, comfort, driving dynamics and safety. Developed with the help of a full-time ergonomics expert, the car's design started on the inside-- around a new generation of customers, who are taller than ever before--to provide more cabin space, interior comfort and roominess.
Concept vehicles, visions of the future
Synergy 2010: As a member of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PGNV) program, Ford is evaluating various hybrid electric powertrains, which are capable of achieving up to 80 miles per gallon. The current scale model of the Synergy 2010 allows three separate and distinct mock-ups of the hybrid electric powertrain-an internal combustion engine, gas turbine, and fuel cell--to be rotated under a shell of the vehicle.
(my) Mercury: Designed with maximum versatility combined with style, the new (my) Mercury concept demonstrates one vision for a multi-activity vehicle that blurs the boundaries between a car, a truck, and a sports utility vehicle.