The American Car
Henry Ford was born near Dearborn, Michigan, U.S., in July 1863. As a boy, he loved to play with watches, clocks, and machines—good experience for the person who would build the first affordable car.
Cars had already been built in Europe when Ford experimented with his first vehicle in 1899. It had wheels like a bicycle’s and a gasoline-powered engine that made it move. It was called a Quadricycle and had only two speeds and no reverse.
Within four years Ford had started the Ford Motor Company. His ideas about making automobiles would change history.
Carmakers at the time used parts others had made and put them all together. Ford’s company made each and every part that went into its cars. What’s more, the company made sure that each kind of part was exactly the same. In 1908 Ford introduced the Model T. This car worked well and was not costly. It was a big success, but the company couldn’t make them quickly enough to satisfy Henry Ford.
In 1913 he started a large factory that made use of his most important idea: the assembly line. Instead of having workers go from car to car, the cars moved slowly down a line while workers stood in place adding parts to them. Each worker added a different part until a whole car was put together.
This meant more autos could be built more quickly at a lower cost. By 1918 half of all cars in the United States were Model Ts. Ford’s company had become the largest automobile manufacturer in the world. And Ford had revolutionized the process of manufacturing.