Henry Ford, a key figure in the economic history of the United States and the automobile industry, was born today in 1863 in Dearborn, Michigan.
Ford built his first automobile in 1896, but it was the introduction of the Model T in 1908 that changed the U.S. transportation forever. The ‘Tin Lizzie” was an instant hit. By 1918, the “Flivver” accounted for half of the cars on what were then very crude U.S. roads.
It was Ford’s use of the assembly line that allowed production time to be reduced for each of the black painted cars from more than 12 hours to 93 minutes. As a result, Model T prices dropped to as low as $300 – the average cost of a new vehicle today is more than $23,000.
It has never been confirmed that Ford actually said “you can paint it any color, as long it was black.”
More than 15 million Model Ts were built. Production ended in 1927, but the four-cylinder engine was built until 1941.