Spotlight: Henry Ford
A common misconception among beginner automobile lovers is that Henry Ford, the esteemed founder of the Ford Motor Company “invented” the automobile. In fact, this is not the case, and when delving into the history of the automotive industry, it can be difficult to pinpoint any one person as having invented the automobile. That said, it is fair to say that Ford revolutionized the industry and contributed to a large chunk of the economy which revolved around the auto industry for decades. His innovation with regard to the assembly line as a manner of stream-lining the production process, certainly changed the game. In combination with the assembly line, his use of interchangeable parts made the production process more efficient, not to mention much less stressful to car buyers.
As the oldest of six children, Ford was born in 1863 in Dearborn, Michigan. In his youth, he worked for Westinghouse Engine Company. Later, while working for Edison Illuminating Company, he created the Quadricycle, which was described as a “horseless carriage.” It was built on bicycle tires and ran off of gasoline. The Quadricycle became the basis of his work, and he founded the Ford Motorcycle Company, not long after, in 1903.
The Model T was first produced in 1908, and a legend was effectively born. Once demand increased for the car, Ford moved quickly to improve the interchangeable parts and assembly line. In time, a new Ford factory was able to build a new car in just 93 minutes, which in time produced one car every 24 seconds. After the market changed and competing car companies began offering options and color choices, Ford Motor Company suffered a set back and shut down for a short time.
Henry Ford died in 1947 and the company was passed down to his grandson. In Michigan especially, Ford’s legacy remains strong. The Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield Village remains among the top history attractions in the United States.