FORD'S MODEL T
The Ford Model T (colloquially known as the Tin Lizzie and also the Flivver) was an automobile produced by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company from 1908 through 1927. The Model T set 1908 as the historic year that the automobile came into popular usage. It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, the car that "put America on wheels"; some of this was because of Ford's innovations, including assembly line production instead of individual hand crafting, as well as the concept of paying the workers a wage proportionate to the cost of the car, so that they would provide a ready made market. The first production Model T was built on September 27, 1908, at the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan.
There were several cars produced or prototyped by Henry Ford from the founding of the company in 1903 until the Model T came along.
The Ford Model T was named the world's most influential car of the twentieth century in an international poll. Henry Ford said of the vehicle:
I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one-and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces.
Characteristics. The Ford Model T car was designed by C. H. Wills and two Hungarian immigrants named J. A. Galamb and Eugene Farkas. While production of the Model T began in 1908, model years range from 1909 to 1927.
Engine and means of starting. The Model T had a front mounted, 177 |in3 (2.9 L) four-cylinder en bloc motor (that is, all four in one block, as common now, rather than in individual castings, as common then) producing 20.2 hp (15 kW) for a top speed of 40-45 mph (64-72 km/h). (5 to 9 kilometres per litre or 11.1 to 18.7 litres per 100 km). The engine was capable of running on gasoline or ethanol, though the decreasing cost of gasoline and the later introduction of Prohibition in the United States made ethanol an impractical fuel.
Before starting a Model T with the hand crank, the spark had to be manually retarded or the engine might "kick back". The crank handle was cupped in the palm, rather than grabbed with the thumb over the top of the handle, so that if the engine did kick back, the rapid reverse motion of the crank would throw the hand away from the handle, rather than violently twisting the wrist or breaking the thumb. Most Model T Fords had the choke operated by a wire emerging from the bottom of the radiator where it could be operated with the left hand while cranking the engine with the right hand.
The car's 10 gallon (38 litre) fuel tank was mounted to the frame beneath the front seat; one variant had the carburetor (a Holley Model G) modified to run on ethyl alcohol, to be made at home by the self-reliant farmer. Because fuel relied on gravity to flow forward from the fuel tank to the carburetor, a Model T could not climb a steep hill when the fuel level was low. The immediate solution was often to drive up steep hills in reverse. The middle pedal was used to engage reverse gear, and the right pedal operated the engine brake. The floor lever also controlled the parking brake, which was activated by pulling the lever all the way back. This doubled as an emergency brake.
Production. Henry Ford is commonly reputed to have made the statement "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." The Model T was the first automobile mass produced on assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts, marketed to the middle class. When introduced, the T used the building methods typical at the time, assembly by hand, and production was small. Ford's Piquette plant could not keep up with demand for the Model T, and only 11 cars were built there during the first full month of production. The assembly line was introduced to Ford by William C. Klann upon his return from visiting a slaughterhouse at Chicago's Union Stock Yards and viewing what was referred to as the "disassembly line" where animals were cut apart as they moved along a conveyor. By 1914, the assembly process for the Model T had been so streamlined it took only 93 minutes to assemble a car. That year Ford produced more cars than all other automakers combined. The Model T was a great commercial success, and by the time Henry made his 10 millionth car, 9 out of 10 of all cars in the entire world were Fords. In fact, it was so successful that Ford did not purchase any advertising between 1917 and 1923; in total, more than 15 million Model Ts were manufactured, more than any other model of automobile for almost a century. The standard 5-seat open tourer of 1909 cost US$850 (about ₤180 at the time), when competing cars often cost $2000-$3000; in 1913, the price dropped to $550, and $440 in 1915. Sales were 69,762 in 1911, 170,211 in 1912, 202,667 in 1913, 308,162 in 1914, and 501,462 in 1915. In 1914, an assembly line worker could buy a Model T with four months' pay. By 1918, half of all cars in America were Model Ts.
The Model T in popular culture.
The film "The Absent-Minded Professor", a Model T plays a key role in the story. The Model T figures prominently in The Flivver King by Upton Sinclair, a story about life in and around the early Ford company as experienced by one of Ford's early factory workers. The novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley uses the creation year of the Model T (and assembly line) to be the first year of their modern civilization. The use of "AD" is instead "AF", standing for "After Ford".
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