The Model T: A Centennial History

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Overview

"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 vehicle. It made Americans mobile as never before, spurred a revolution in manufacturing methods, and marked a sea change in automotive design and engineering.

Just in time 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 the Model T.

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—many never before published— The Model T is the definitive history of an iconographic piece of American technology.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

History Wire
In this commemorative volume, Ford Museum Curator Robert Casey describes how the Model T came to be, against the backdrop of transportation of the day. He features chapters on creating the Model T in concept, manufacturing it, selling it, and owning and driving it.
Weekly Standard
An extremely handsome, short, informative book about Henry Ford's great creation... A masterpiece.

— Richard Striner

Choice

If one had to buy or read one book about the Model T, this should be the book, for its intelligent text and informative, enjoyable graphics.

Midwest Book Review
This gripping history is a fine pick for any library including transportation history books on the shelf.
Technology and Culture
If there is room on any bookshelf for just one work about Henry Ford's Model T, this is the book that belongs in that space.
T Topics
All credit to Robert Casey for a well balanced and enjoyable read.

— Gordan Nolan

Model T Times
Just in time 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.

— Howard Gustavson

Michigan Historical Review
A short, well-written, lavishly illustrated, and elegant history... [Robert Casey] has met a great need and done it well.

— Tom McCarthy

Weekly Standard - Richard Striner
An extremely handsome, short, informative book about Henry Ford's great creation... A masterpiece.
T Topics - Gordan Nolan
All credit to Robert Casey for a well balanced and enjoyable read.
Model T Times - Howard Gustavson
Just in time 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.
Michigan Historical Review - Rudi Volti
The Model T: A Centennial History is that rare automotive book that will appeal to scholars and buffs alike.
IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archaeology - Larry D. Lankton
Casey's The Model T is a concise and excellent read.
Michigan Historical Review - Tom McCarthy
A short, well-written, lavishly illustrated, and elegant history... [Robert Casey] has met a great need and done it well.
Choice
If one had to buy or read one book about the Model T, this should be the book, for its intelligent text and informative, enjoyable graphics.
Library Journal

The Ford Model T was not just another famous brand; its introduction 100 years ago led to major sociological and demographic shifts. As the first affordable automobile, it brought transportation to the masses, enabling them to be newly mobile. But Henry Ford's manufacturing this car in mass quantity at an affordable price also revolutionized approaches to manufacturing all sorts of goods. Ford's credo of mass production included the five-dollar workday at a time when most line workers took home fewer than four. Using period photos and company archival material, Casey (curator of transportation, Henry Ford Museum) traces the car's history, discussing design, production, sales distribution, and the experience of driving a Model T. The car incorporated such features as a one-piece cylinder block with a separate head and a flexible suspension that are still in use today. The author also analyzes Ford, the man, and how his personal worldview shaped the car and its production. Casey here mixes scholarly research with his passion as a true enthusiast and, more important, provides a sociological study of both Ford factory workers and Ford motorists during the early driving years of the 20th century. Recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries with strong transportation history collections.
—Eric C. Shoaf

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801888502
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Edition description: 20
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 801,226
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Casey is the 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.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents


Foreword   William Clay Ford Jr.   Patricia E. Mooradian     xi
Acknowledgments     xiii
Introduction     xv
Automobility in 1908     1
Creating the Model T     13
Manufacturing the Model T     32
Selling the Model T     74
Owning & Driving the Model T     96
The Meaning of the Model T     111
Notes     127
Further Reading     139
Index     143
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