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"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
— Richard Striner
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.
— Gordan Nolan
— Howard Gustavson
— Tom McCarthy
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