Ford History: Driven by Innovation, Defined by Performance

Unleash Your Inner Adventurer with Ford History

1903-1910 – Vehicle manufacturing begins

On June 16, 1903, Ford Motor Company began operations in a converted small wagon factory in Detroit, with John S. Gray as President and Henry Ford as vice president. Its initial resources are tools, machinery, blueprints, specifications, projects, patents, models, and $ 28,000 from 12 investors. The first car sold in July 1903, the two-liter Model A, assembled at the Mack Avenue plant in Detroit.

For the next five years, the young Henry Ford, who became President in 1906, led a comprehensive development and production program; it was moved in 1905 to a much larger building (the factory on Piquet Avenue in Detroit). During 15 months of operation, a total of 1,700 vehicles – the first Model A – left the old wagon factory. Between 1903 and 1908, Ford and his engineers went through 19 letters (from Model A to Model S). Some of those cars are experimental and never see the light.

This is not the case with the T, born in 1908 and would continue to be manufactured until 1927.

1911-1920 – The key to success: chain production

In 1911 the first manufacturing plant outside the United States was established in Trafford Park (Manchester, England). At the end of 1913, half of the automobiles made in the United States came from the Ford Motor Company. The brand starts the series production of cars to satisfy all the demand: according to the chronicles, a Model T leaves the assembly line every ten seconds. In addition, on January 5, 1914, Henry Ford surprised the world by announcing that the company’s minimum wage would be five dollars a day for eight hours of work, more than double the current minimum ($ 2.34 for nine hours of work). ). In 1915 Ford manufactured his millionth car, and in 1916, Ford admitted working women into his factories.

Finally, in 1917 construction begins on the gigantic Rouge complex in Dearborn (Michigan), which diversifies manufacturing by manufacturing trucks, tractors, and even ships. In 1919, Edsel Ford succeeded his father as President of the company, and the family became the sole owner by buying the other partners’ shares.

1921-1930 – The planes arrive

It is 1922 when the company acquires the Lincoln Motor Company automobile company for eight million dollars. In this way, it enters the luxury car sector in direct competition with Cadillac. Three years later, he built the pioneer of the 199 Ford Tri-Motor aircraft used by America’s commercial airlines; in 1926, the first of them – in production until 1933 – made its first flight from Ford airport, named that same year.

A year later, in 1927, manufacturing of the Model T ceased after producing more than 15 million units. A curious situation then arose when Ford’s factories throughout the United States closed temporarily for six months starting in May 1927. The new Ford Model A was created during that time, almost as successful as its predecessor. And of which more than 4 million units were manufactured in assembly plants around the world, including Spain.

1931-1940 – Ford’s first V8

As customers demand more luxurious and powerful vehicles, Ford’s first V8 (65 hp) is introduced, featuring a one-piece engine block. The car was presented on March 31, 1932. It was also offered in a ‘cheap’ version with the 4-cylinder engine of the Model A, under the name of Ford B. In 1932 the Ford Y came out, the first European Ford. In 1938 the production of the Mercury began, all of them with V8 engines, and destined to occupy an intermediate segment between the famous Ford and the luxurious Lincoln.

1941-1950 – War machines

The company had to focus its efforts on World War II, so there was a stoppage in manufacturing civilian vehicles in 1942. The result is less than three years is 8,600 B-24 “Liberator” four-engine, 57,000-thruster bombers. Aircraft and more than a million tanks, destroyers, and war machinery. In 1945, Henry Ford’s grandson (who died in 1947, aged 83), Henry Ford II, took control of the company after the death of Edsel Ford in 1943, at the age of 49, becoming President, a position he will hold until his end in 1987. The young Ford II is faced with the task of building an automotive firm again.

1951-1960 – IPO

In the winter of 1954, the Thunderbird, a two-seater convertible, appeared. In 1956, the company decided to go public and sell shares, a year after Ernest Breech was appointed Chairman.

In 1956, a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, Aeronutronics Systems, specializing in defense weapons and aerospace technology. In 1960 Henry Ford II resigned from the presidency and became CEO, while Robert McNamara became President, a position he left to become John F. Kennedy’s Secretary of Defense.

1961-1970 – The legendary Mustang

In 1961, John Dykstra was elected President, and the company suffered the first general strike in its history, which would repeat in 1967. In 1964 the Mustang arrived and, already on its first day of production, received 22,000 orders.

Just two years later, the millionth Mustang is manufactured. In 1967 Ford’s European headquarters was opened. At this time, the company’s expansion has resulted in the creation of 44 manufacturing plants, 18 assembly plants, 32 parts warehouses, two huge testing grounds, and 13 research and engineering facilities in the United States.

In 1970, Lee Iacocca was appointed President, a position that he left in 1978.

1971-1980 – “There are no bad employees, but bad bosses.”

In the middle of the decade, Henry Ford II utters his famous phrase. “There are no bad employees, but bad bosses.” The firm became the number one manufacturer during those years. In 1979, Ford II ceased to be CEO, with Phillip Cadwell taking his place. In 1976, the Ford Fiesta appeared, which will become one of the brand’s legendary models.

1981-1990 – Anti-crisis car

At the beginning of the decade appears the Escort, a low-consumption car that copes with the growth of the oil price and surpasses its competitors in registrations around the world. Hertz becomes part of the Ford conglomerate. And in 1985, the Taurus was introduced, at a time when other brands were investing in robots and manufacturing technology, while Ford continued to bet on the work of its employees. It is the best-selling car in America from 1992 to 1996.

1987 is a busy year: in addition to Ford surpassing General Motors’ earnings for the first time since 1926, with $ 4.63 billion, Henry Ford II dies. At the end of the decade, in 1990, Ford bought Jaguar for 2.5 billion dollars.

1991-2000 – New concept: Ford Explorer

The Explorer breaks new ground for other manufacturers when it appears earlier this decade. In 1991 Ford lost $ 2.3 billion and introduced the Quality Care system (“Care for Quality”) of customer service.

In addition, it embarks with Volkswagen in a ‘joint venture’ called AutoEuropa, an organization that manufactures vehicles in Setúbal (Portugal). A year later, the Ford F-Series pickup became America’s best-selling pickup for the 10th year in a row. The Taurus is the first car to feature an environmentally friendly, CFC-free air conditioning system. Also, in 1992, he bought 50% of Mazda.

In 1993 the production and sale of vehicles began in China, and Ford was the first brand to equip double airbags in all its models. A year later, he buys Hertz, the car rental company.

In 1996 Ford launched the Mondeo (Contour in the United States), and that same year, the 250 millionth unit left the assembly line. In 1997, the brand sold vehicles powered by natural gas to New York City as taxis. A year later, the company had a profit of $ 6.9 billion. William Clay Ford Jr. was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1999.

2000-2010 – The scourge of the crisis

In 2005, due to the tremendous economic crisis, the value of Ford and General Motors bonds on the stock market degraded and fell through the ground. In the second half of 2005, President Bill Ford, to develop a plan to return the company to profitability, presented “The Way Forward.” This plan includes resizing the company to match the reality of the market, dropping some unprofitable and inefficient models, consolidating production lines, closing fourteen factories, or reducing jobs.

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