Few companies have made larger contributions to the automotive industry than the Ford Motor Company. For over a hundred years, Ford has countlessly found itself at the forefront of innovation and industry-leading change, cementing itself as an integral part in the history of car manufacturing. Rather than continue with the sentiments, let Kentwood Ford break down some of the most important events in Ford history.
Before Henry Ford founded the company in 1903, he built his first experimental car in a workshop behind his Detroit home in 1896. It was a Quadricycle built with four bicycle wheels, used a tiller as a steering wheel, and the gearbox only had two forward gears with no reverse. It wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company became incorporated. A year later, the company was officially founded and Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, took over as president in 1919. From there, the Ford Motor Company acquired the Lincoln Motor Company in 1922 and produced the first model TT truck in 1927.
After a successful decade of producing airplanes and cars, Henry Ford actually shut down several production operations to focus on one project. This project led to the creation of the first commercially successful V8 flathead engine in 1932, which still remains popular with hot rod drivers today. While the production of the V8 engine proved successful, Ford still shut down other production facilities as the company shifted their focus to military equipment over commercial products in 1942, producing over 8,000 B-24 Liberator bombers by the end of WWII. It was also around the same time when Edsel Ford died from stomach cancer in 1943, forcing Henry Ford to return as president of the Ford motor company until 1945. This was when Edsel’s son, Henry Ford II took over as president and led the production of both the first F-Series truck and the 1949 Ford in 1948.
Two years after Ford introduced the iconic Thunderbird convertible in 1954 the Ford Motor Company became a publicly traded company, to which its public offering of common stocks became the largest in IPO history. Fast forward to more than a decade later, Ford created a cultural icon with the first Mustang which defined American automotive culture for years to come. Two years later, Ford broke several records in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966. With three Ford GT 40 Mk. IIs, the company won every top spot of the race, broke Ferrari’s six-year winning streak, and became the first American manufacturer to ever win the prestigious race. Needless to say, it was an important moment in Ford History.
The last quarter of the century introduced some significant models to the Ford lineup. In Europe, the Fiesta was introduced in 1976 and eventually began North American sales two years later. Shortly after that, the first non-Ford family member, Philip Cadwell, became president of the company and oversaw the production of the Ford Taurus in 1985, and the Explorer in 1990.
The Ford Motor Company hit numerous milestones in the new millennium. In 2003, Ford celebrated its 100 year anniversary as a company and offered limited edition centennial editions of some of its vehicles. Six years later, Ford created another automotive innovation with the first EcoBoost engine, delivering better performance and fuel economy than most engines on the market. In 2014 and 2016, Ford celebrated two significant 50th anniversaries; the first one is the anniversary of the original Ford Mustang while the other is the anniversary of Ford’s historic victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans racing competition. For the latter, Ford re-entered the competition in 2016 with their latest iteration of the Ford GT, taking first place in the race once more.
We hope you enjoyed this small look back at some of the most significant moments in Ford history. From all of us at Kentwood Ford, here’s to 100 more years of automotive innovation!