The Model T Turns 100
Maverick carmaker Henry Ford brought motoring to the masses with the Model T. Though we remember the car itself, the true innovation was the method of production: Ford is credited with inventing the assembly line, which has since migrated from automotive to electronics, and even to fast food. Far from just developing a car, Henry Ford reshaped the entire world economy.
Oct. 1 marks the 100th birthday of Ford's Model T — a car so affordable, it made automobiles necessities and launched American car culture. It's been quite a ride from there.
When he introduced the Model T Ford 100 years ago today, automotive pioneer Henry Ford commented in good humor, "The customer can have any color he wants, so long as it's black."
Named the "Car of the Twentieth Century" in 1999, the Tin Lizzie, as it was affectionately called, was built on the philosophy of innovation and availability. These ideals drove the production of the Model T and still continue to shape the automotive industry.
Unfortunately, it's the last time Ford was actually the number-one American automaker. The company has an unfortunate reactionary design culture, with most of their cars and trucks being so recognizable due to their unchanged styling.
Though currently stuck in the peak-oil quagmire along with other car manufacturers, Ford has branched into hybrid technology. So, while the auto giant has the distinction of providing the American public, and later the world, with affordable cars, there's no telling what the future holds for Ford.
The automaker has lost almost $24 billion over the past 2 1/2 years, shed more than 50,000 jobs and can't predict when it will make money again.
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