Ford is often considered to be one of the founders of the modern motorcar and remains a powerhouse in the motoring industry to this day, which is why we’ve chosen to have a look at the company’s origins and see how they evolved over the last 117 years to become the industry giant it is today.

Henry Ford:

Images Sourced:

Henry Ford was born in the Michigan town of Dearborn in 1863, the first child of six to William and Mary Ford. With his five siblings he grew up on the family’s prosperous farm and went to the local school where he showed an interest in all things mechanical from an early age.

By the time he turned 12 years old Henry Ford was spending most of his spare time in a small machine shop he had equipped himself. At just 15 years old he built his first steam engine.

At aged 16 Henry left his workshop and home and headed to Detroit to work as an apprentice machinist.

After three years he completed the apprenticeship and returned to his home, where he split his time between operating and repairing steam engines, occasional work in a Detroit factory and overhauling his family’s farm equipment.

In 1888 his life changed when he married Clara Bryant and started running a sawmill to support his new family. Just three years later, he made another career change and he became an engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. He was promoted by 1893 to Chief Engineer and this gave him more time and money for his passion and experiments on internal combustion engines.

His first vehicle was in 1896, with the Quadricycle that had a tiller, two forward gears, bicycle wheels and a four-horsepower engine.

His first attempt at being part of an automobile company was in 1899 when he joined a group which founded the Detroit Automobile Company, however he left them within a year.  In 1903 his second attempt was much more successful with the incorporation of the Ford Motor Company.

In 1908 Ford produced the Model T, which achieve Henry Ford’s goals of being reasonably priced, reliable and efficient.

Henry was with the company until his retirement in 1945 when he resigned as the president of Ford Motor Company, for the second time after his son had a brief period in the role before his untimely death. Henry was succeeded by his grandson Henry Ford II when he resigned for the second time and he maintained a keen interest in the company and automotive industry as a whole until his death two years later.

For his contributions to the motoring industry Henry Ford was honoured at the American Automotive Golden Jubilee in 1946. Later that same year he was also awarded the American Petroleum Institute’s first gold medal for outstanding contributions to the welfare of humanity.

The Ford Family Legacy

The Ford family have been a central part of the business’ development and at the head of the company for generations since Henry and his son Edsel bought out the minority stockholders in 1919 and became the sole owners.

When Henry Ford retired the first time as president of the Ford Motor Company Edsel took over running the business, until his death in 1943. Henry Ford II then became the president in 1945 following a brief return from his grandfather to the role and remained in the role for 15 years before he became CEO in 1960 until he retired in 1979.

Today the great-great-granddaughter of the founder, Elena Ford, is the Chief Customer Experience Officer at Ford working with the company’s Customer Service Division and Quality Organisation to provide their customers with an industry-leading experience.

Prior to her current role, Elena was the Vice President of the company and was the first female member of the Ford family to hold this position.

Image Sourced:

Ford and the Assembly Line

As the Ford name became better known and their cars more popular Henry Ford looked for a way to produce more cars at a lower cost so that they could be as affordable as possible and available to everybody, not just the wealthiest.

With this in mind Henry Ford designed his first moving assembly line in 1913 to further reduce the cost of producing, and so the cost to customers, of his popular Model T. 

Image Sourced:

This assembly line revolutionised the way that automobiles were produced and remains the basis of production lines used by manufacturers around the world to this day. 

At Highland Park where the assembly line was first introduced Ford had a complete car leaving the line every 10 seconds, producing around two million Model Ts annually.

Not only did the assembly line increase the number of vehicles Ford could produce and reduce the cost to the customer, but it was a part in the process which allowed the company to double the minimum daily wage they were paying to $5. This increase vastly improved the quality of life for the workers and encouraged employee loyalty and commitment.

The Evolution of Ford Cars:

Ford has been producing cars, vans, lorries, and other commercial vehicles for over a hundred years and in this time they have produced a number of memorable models. We’ve taken a look at some of the most memorable below.

Model T:

We mentioned the Model T above but wanted to give you more information on the car that revolutionised the automobile market. This was largely in part due to the assembly line which allowed Ford to produce a large volume of the vehicles, quickly and at an affordable price.

However, it was also due to the car itself which was designed to adapt to the primitive roads in the US at the time. The car used light and strong vanadium steel alloys on critical parts of the vehicle to ensure it didn’t easily break and were easy to maintain as Henry Ford wanted them to be reliable cars that appealed to the mass market.

Image Sourced:

Ford Model TT:

In 1917 Ford produced their first truck, the Model TT.  It was based on the Model T car but with a reinforced chassis and rear axle to allow it to handle the weight expected in the rear of the vehicle.

The Model TT was Ford’s very first pickup.

Image Sourced:

Model A

In 1927 the Model A was produced.

Whilst the Model T had little competition when it was first introduced by the mid-1920s other manufacturers had arrived on the US car market and so there was a wider range for drivers to choose from. It was onto this more competitive market that the Model A launched.

This was the first Ford to sport the now iconic blue oval logo and had a number of innovative features that included using safety glass on the windshield.

Within five years more than five million Model As had been sold.

Ford Jeep

In 1941 Ford began to produce Jeeps for the US military. They were one of two companies, alongside Willys that manufactured Jeeps for the army during World War Two.

Willys MB would go on to be the basis of the modern Jeep we know today, and Ford used this licenced design to produce models during the war and stopped in 1945 to return to making commercial vehicles. During the time that Ford was manufacturing jeeps and other vehicles, including planes and trucks, for the US military they halted the production of their commercial products for the general population.

F Series Trucks

In 1948 Ford’s first post-war pickup moved from basing trucks on car platforms and moved to a specially designed platform.

The F Series was available with a ½ ton capacity on the F-1 and three-ton capacity on the F-8.

The Thunderbird

In 1954 Ford introduced the world to an icon – the Thunderbird. Also known as the T-Bird the car emphasised comfort and driver convenience over sportiness, although it still looked and performed like a sports car.

It’s instantly recognisable with its distinctive design and today is considered one of the classics.

Ford Mustang

In 1964 the first Ford Mustang went on sale and over 50 years later it remains in the Ford line up, which is a feat in itself. This car defined the pony car at the time and was soon a cultural icon staring in movies like Bullitt and the Mustang Sally song.

It would come to be a muscle car loved as both a classic model and the new iterations that have since been produced, including the current Mustang which you can our excellent Ford Mustang lease deals on. 

Ford Fiesta

In 1976 the first Fiesta hit the road. Since then, the hatchback has gone on to be a favourite of families, first-time car owners and reliable car lovers alike.

Today’s Fiesta is very different from the one you see on the right, with a high-tech interior, range of economical engines to choose from and a sleeker silhouette.

If you want to take a break from Ford’s best models then why not look at our current Ford Fiesta lease deals.

Ford Mondeo

In 1993 the first Mondeo was released as Ford’s first global sedan although it was known by another name in the US. Originally it was known as the Ford Contour until 2000 and today it is known as the Fusion in the US.

To this day the Mondeo remains a popular choice for drivers looking at a sedan or saloon vehicle with the practicalities and reliability of a Ford.

Electric Ranger

In 1996 Ford produced their first electric vehicle in the electric Ford Ranger. It was one of the earliest forms of an electric vehicle and was on sale until 2002 when production of the ranger ceased.

The lead acid batteries and regenerative braking were forerunners to today’s electric and hybrid systems.

More than a Car Manufacturer:

As we’ve already mentioned Ford is a company that helped revolutionise the automotive industry both through their moving assembly line as well as with their increase to workers wages and the social changes this prompted in the wider world. However, it’s not just cars that Ford has been involved with, take a look at some of their other achievements below. 

Ford Airlines

Not only did Ford produce motor vehicles but in 1925 they began production of the Tri-Motor airplanes, that combined Ford’s assembly-line techniques with the newly formed Ford Airlines company. These planes helped the commercial airline industry develop, especially as Ford offered the 35 patents used on the planes free of royalties, including the one for their navigational radio beam. Though the company was only around for a short time, closing in 1933, during its short life it helped the airline industry evolve.

Image Sourced:

Ford in Space

As well as Ford Airlines the company also owned engineering company Philco between 1961 and 1974 during which the company made electronics, computer systems and even assisted on military projects as well as performing support work for NASA on their Apollo and Gemini space programmes.

Ford Aerospace and Communications Corporation evolved out of Philco and would go onto build seven satellites for the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization which are still used to this day to transmit tv and telephone calls between continents.

Today’s Ford:

Today Ford continues to be a large presence in the automotive industry, continuing to produce reliable, safe and affordable vehicles for drivers around the world.

Whether you’re looking for a compact hatchback, a larger family SUV or estate, or even a pickup truck there will be a Ford for you. Take a look at our current best Ford lease deals for excellent car leasing offers, including electric leasing offers on their EV models.

Leave a Comment

Enter the text you see in the image in the form field above.
If you cannot read the text, refresh the page.
* required fields

Peace of Mind

Check out one of our helpful guides or our explaination of leasing to get all your questions answered.

View our FAQsGuides

Latest News

Get the latest news and blog posts from us.

View all News

Your Guide To Car Leasing

You can unsubscribe at any time

Lease Plan