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Ford Model T PDF Print E-mail

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The car that put the world on wheels, the Model T Ford,celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.?Launched in October 1908, with a 2896 cc engine delivering a heady 20hp, the ?T? was significant in that it featured a monobloc motor casting and adetachable cylinder head.?

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Transmissionwas a two-speed epicyclic system that had been used on previous Fords.? Top speed was around 45 miles per hour, or 72km/h.?

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Fuel consumption was in the regionof 13-21 miles per (American) gallon or around five to nine kilometers perliter, running on gasoline or ethanol, although the introduction of prohibitionultimately made the latter impractical as an alternative fuel. Fuel wasgravity-fed to the carburetor and for this reason steep gradients had to be tackledin reverse if fuel levels were low.

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When Henry Ford died in 1947, a Detroit newspaper publishedthe headline ?The Father of the Automobile Dies?.? Such was Henry?s influence on moderntransport and the mobility of the aspiring American public. The Model T wasdesigned, though, by Childe Harold Wills and two Hungarian immigrants by thename of Joseph A. Galamb and Eugene Farkas.

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The first Model Ts were made in a factory on Piquette Avenuein Detroit, but in April 1910 Henry Ford moved production to a new facility atHighland Park.? Although Ford alreadyproduced more vehicles than any of its competitors at the time, Henryinstigated the moving production line in 1913, further increasing the numbersturned out.? In 1914, the first full yearof production, Ford built 308,162 cars.?Two years on and that figure had more than doubled.? By the end of its production life in May,1927 more than 15 million Model Ts had been sold and in December 1999, it wasnamed, rightly, ?Car of the Century? by a panel of 133 automotive journalistsand industry experts who began with a list of 700 candidates in 1996 andsequentially whittled down the nominees through seven rounds of balloting overthe ensuing three years.

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In1909 a standard four-seat open tourer cost $850; by 1915 this had dropped tojust $440, thanks to improved production methods.? Although Henry Ford is widely credited withintroducing the production line to auto making, it was in fact William C. Klannwho brought it to Ford after seeing Chicago?s Union Stock Yards where cattlewere butchered as they moved along a moving belt. When the first car wascompleted on the new assembly line, it was Klann that proudly drove it off theend of the line.

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Althoughthe Model T was listed as a ?three-speed? vehicle, in actual fact it was justtwo; the other gear was reverse. The transmission was controlled by three footpedals and the throttle by a lever on the steering wheel. The original wheelswere wooden artillery wheels, although towards the end of production steel spokeswere introduced.?

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Pneumatic tires werefitted, with an optional size available for the more demanding roads in thesouth of the U.S. By 1919 almost all cars sold had electric starters; beforethat they had to be started by a hand crank and often, when the engine kickedback, a driver?s thumb would be broken.

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AlthoughHenry is reputed to have said, ?A customer can have any color he likes so longas it?s black?, in fact the Model T was available in a variety of colors.? Indeed, the earliest cars were not evenavailable in black.? Documents in Fordarchives suggest that black was widely adopted for a number of componentsbecause it was cheap and durable.

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Speedof assembly was clearly essential to making the car inexpensive and by 1914 ittook just 93 minutes to assemble a Model T.?That year Ford produced more cars that all other automakers combined.

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Celebrationshave been taking place in the United States, notably at a gathering of Model Towners held in Richmond, Indiana in July, where more than 1,000 cars turned up.

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Model T Myths

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  • The idea that the Model T only came in black probably comes from the fact that almost 12 million of the 15 million produced were, in fact, black.? But Henry Ford never actually said it, unless joking perhaps ?
  • Before the Model T, cars may have had their steering wheels on the right, the left or in the center.? The Model T standardized the left-hand steering wheel.
  • The Model T was responsible for establishing a minimum wage and the eight-hour working day.? The $5 a day minimum wage brought the best workers to Ford factories.
  • The Model T was the best-selling vehicle ever, until 1872 when the VW Beetle surpassed its total.
  • A Model T was used in the 1928 silent movie with Laurel and Hardy.? The intrepid duo caused havoc in a traffic jam and then escape in a Model T into a railroad tunnel.
  • As late as 1961, the Model T appeared in movies, when it ?flew? in Disney?s ?The Absent-minded Professor?.
 
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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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