THIS WEEK IN HISTORY: OCTOBER 1, 1908

Henry Ford Rolls Out the Model T

henry-ford-model-tAs the Model T was unveiled to the public in October 1908, Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, remarked of his “Tin Lizzie” that it came “in any color you choose, so long as it’s black.” He also called the automobile “a motor car for the great multitude.” The latter statement was an appropriate tribute to the Model T, for mass production lowered its price and made it the first automobile average Americans could afford. The Model T car was not revolutionary, but the process of mass production revolutionized the automobile industry. As a result American life and culture would be transformed as the car became an everyday necessity in a mobile society.

The Model T advertising flyers sent to dealers in March 1908 captured the attention of the public with the slogan “No car under $2,000 offers more, and no car over $2,000 offers more except in trimmings.” The Model T had a stout, utilitarian look despite its high roofline. It sported a four-cylinder twenty-horsepower engine, magneto ignition, refined planetary transmission, and tank capacities often gallons for the touring sedan and sixteen gallons for the run-about. The Model T was also lighter than other models, had well-placed headlights, good suspension, and a completely enclosed power plant and transmission. By 1909, after using red, gray, and black as colors, the Model T was painted green with black trimming and red striping.

“The Model T.” American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 1: 1900-1909. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web.


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