The 30th of June 2013 marked the 150th anniversary of Henry Ford’s birth, an iconic inventor whose ideas completely revolutionised the transportation world and allowed the masses, the ordinary, the ‘average Joe’ to become mobile.
While other motor designers and manufacturers were focussing on the production of luxury cars for the richer and the few, Ford designed a car that most people could afford- the first of which being the classic Model T that came to the public eye in 1908.
The state where the Ford Motor Company is based, Michigan, proclaimed it “Henry Ford Day” while in Washington DC, hundreds of supporters met on Capitol Hill to enjoy a commemorative banquet of desserts that were delivered by a food truck- surely something that Ford would have approved of himself. But these were just surface celebrations for what will be a year full of memorable events.
The other ways his work is being celebrated include:
* Dealers in 21 Asia Pacific markets launched ‘Ford Heritage’ month, where they transformed showrooms into Henry Ford exhibitions for the public to enjoy.
* Ford of Germany held a series of five road rallies to celebrate the last 110 years of manufacturing.
* More than 4000 members of the public attended ‘Ford Community events’ in Romania.
* In the UK a large restored statue of Henry Ford was unveiled in his honour by the company’s UK Tech Centre.
Continued planning has gone into more celebration ideas that will be coming to light in the next few months in the US and South America too.
Henry Ford’s introduction of the affordable automobile can be easily overlooked considering how far we have advanced in terms of technology, accessibility and use of cars today. But that introduction did truly revolutionise the way the US developed. The US at the time was a large agricultural economy but after the masses could transport from one place to another easily, it became an industrial and urban market.
Some historians even accredit Ford with creating the middle class in the US, allowing for the middle-wage earners to enjoy the wonders of travel and transport to work and leisure, all the while setting a precedent to influence the working industry today by doubling the minim wage in his factory.
The first breakthrough was the Model T, produced in 1908 but was still slow t0 produce. Only 15 were sold and were driving on the roads that year. In 1913, however, the first moving assembly line was used that reduced the Model T production time from 12.5 to 1.5 ‘man’ hours, the rest is history they say.
Bill Ford commented: “My great-grandfather’s vision was to improve people’s lives by making cars affordable for the average family”.
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