A Look Back at the History of Ford

December 13th, 2019 by

A group of Ford's 'Rouge 100 Vehicles' is shown in a parking lot at one of the local car dealers.

Ford is a household name in the automotive industry, and for a good reason — it’s been around for a long time. Over 100 years, in fact. So, it’s no surprise when you can find multiple local car dealers in your area that sell Ford vehicles. But, how did this automotive titan come to be in the first place?

Many people are certainly familiar with the name Henry Ford and his Model T automobile that was produced in the early 20th century. But, don’t forget about the many popular Ford vehicles you can find today (F-Series, Mustang, and Bronco, to name a few). However, not everyone is as familiar with Ford’s full history. So, let’s take a step back in time to see the growing process of one of America’s most iconic automobile brands.

It Begins

The Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903, with 12 investors, 1,000 shares, and $28,000 in cash. However, Henry Ford had already been involved in two other companies, the Detroit Automobile Company and the Henry Ford Company. Although the Detroit Automobile Company floundered and failed, the Henry Ford Company (after Henry Ford left, along with his naming rights) later became the Cadillac Company, owned by Henry Leland. Interestingly enough, two of the original twelve investors in the Ford Motor Company were the Dodge brothers (John and Horace), who had later found their own company with which you might be familiar with as well, Dodge. So, Ford’s beginnings are also tied to the origins of multiple other car companies.

It Takes Off

Ford’s Model T automobile was introduced in 1908, with over 15 million units sold before the end of its production in 1927. Although Ford had been having reasonable success up to this point, the Model T is what really set the company flying. Then, in 1913, the moving assembly line was integrated into the Model T’s chassis production, which eventually decreased production times by over 10 hours. You can certainly see why so many units were sold, especially considering automobiles were still considered a bit luxurious at the time. Ford created an affordable vehicle for the masses.

Ford then began diversifying by producing different types of vehicles, including their first truck in 1917, various vehicles (cars, ambulances, trucks, tractors, boats, tanks, and planes) for the Allies war effort during WWI, and then airplanes for commercial use in 1925. In 1927, the Model T’s successor, the Model A, was introduced and was very successful despite the trying time period of the Great Depression.

Henry Ford and Edsel Ford are standing next to the 15 Millionth Car shown in black and white.

Lincoln and Mercury

Throughout its history, Ford has purchased and unveiled other car brands that would all be part of the Ford family in some way. In 1922, Ford purchased the Lincoln Motor Company from Henry Leland (who you may remember also owned the Cadillac Company). Lincoln cars became a more luxurious option for Ford’s clients as people became wealthier and weren’t as interested in the barebones automobiles like the Model T.

In 1938, Ford unveiled its Mercury brand, which was created to target mid-range consumers or people who were interested in something that was somewhere between the less expensive Ford vehicles and the more expensive Lincoln cars.

You can still find Lincolns being produced today, but the Mercury brand went defunct in 2011. Lasting 81 years isn’t a bad run, though.

Famous and Iconic Vehicles

You can find a lot of vehicles produced by Ford, or one of its subsidiaries, throughout the years, but only some of them have come to be regarded as truly popular and iconic.

Model T

Already mentioned, but still deserving of its spot here, the Model T is a classic example of American ingenuity. Basically, Henry Ford saw an opportunity and put in the time and effort to come up with a plan to maximize the potential of said opportunity. Thus, the Model T will forever be in the history books as a wild and innovative success.

A man is driving a 1908 Ford Model T in a field near Albany, NY.

WWII Jeep

This may come as a surprise to some, but Ford produced GP (general purpose) vehicles, nicknamed “Jeeps,” for the U.S. military during World War II. They did so in conjunction with Willys and American Bantam.

F-Series

The F-Series line of trucks began in 1948, right after WWII. However, it wouldn’t be until 1984 that the iconic F-150 would be introduced. Today, the F-Series is the best selling vehicle in the United States, and it’s been that way since 1984.

Lincoln Continental

The Continental’s roots stem from the former Ford President, Edsel Ford, who wanted a personal vehicle made. The prototype was delivered to Edsel in 1939, and actual production on a model line began soon after. The Continental lives on to this day as a midsize luxury sedan.

Thunderbird

The famed T-Bird was introduced with its first generation in 1954, and its final generation (the eleventh) was last seen in 2005. It has proven to be a popular car, especially the older models, since they’ve become classics. Also, it’s hard to ignore a name like “Thunderbird.”

A couple is standing outside their 1950s home next to a red 1957 Ford Thunderbird.

Edsel

Famous for being a terrific dud on the market, the Edsel is actually more in demand now than it was when first released in 1957. It’s an absolutely unique car that was released during the wrong period in time and ended up costing Ford millions of dollars. Now, though, they’re quite the collector’s item.

Mustang

The legend itself. The Mustang is the original pony car, even though the Plymouth Barracuda may have hit the market right before it. However, starting in 1964 and continuing to the present day, the Mustang has proven to be one of the most popular and well-known vehicles of all time. It started a real craze for compact, sporty cars that could still carry four people and were also affordable.

Additional Vehicles

  • There are a lot more vehicles that have made their marks on the annals of Ford history, but here are just a few more worth listing:
  • GT40 – Famous wins at 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1966-1969.
  • Fiesta – Made popular in Europe (starting in 1976) and then brought to North America.
  • Explorer – Introduced in 1990, the Explorer was an eventual replacement for the Bronco and appealed to many families as an SUV alternative to station wagons and vans.
  • Taurus – Brought about the popular ‘jelly bean’ shape of more aerodynamic cars, starting in 1985.
  • Transit – Also first made popular in Europe, the Transit has gained popularity in North America as a work and passenger vehicle.

The Ford brand has a rich history and is proud of its American roots and contributions to the American economy and way of life. At DePaula Ford, we believe in this brand and the excellent vehicles it has produced for over 100 years. These days, Ford continues to build legends-in-the-making, always innovating to provide the public with the best possible product. From the ever-popular F-Series pickups to the iconic Mustang and the return of the legendary Bronco — you’re in for a treat when you go with a Ford.

If you’re in the market for a new or used Ford, come check out our inventory at DePaula Ford. We’re a local car dealership in Albany, NY, with years of experience with this excellent brand, and our friendly professionals would love to assist you. We look forward to hearing from you soon.