“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 take care of. 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 so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one—and enjoy with his family the blessings of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”—Henry Ford
First rolled out in 1908 with an $850 price tag, the Model T Ford was the nation’s first mass-produced, affordable, and versatile motor vehicle. It made Americans mobile as never before, spurred a revolution in manufacturing methods, and marked a sea change in automotive design and engineering.
Originally written for the centennial celebration of the Model T, Robert Casey captures the remarkable story of that car’s history and development and of its long-lasting impact on America. Here are the people who built the Model T and how, the folks who purchased it and why, and the profound technological leaps in mass production and mass consumption that we rightly associate with Ford’s automobile.
Casey discusses how the car was designed, built, sold, and driven, as well as how owners tinkered with it. He describes the experience of driving a Model T and explains how a few engineering innovations—a one-piece cylinder block with detachable cylinder head, a clever flexible suspension system, the use of lightweight vanadium alloy steel—led to the car’s reliability and popularity and spurred innovations across the motor vehicle industry.
Richly illustrated with archival photos from The Henry Ford, The Model T is the definitive history of an iconographic piece of American technology.
Robert Casey is the retired John and Horace Dodge Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford. He has written widely about technology and industry for academic journals and popular media.