The Model T: Ford’s Great Promise and a Legacy Derailed
September 29, 2009 by Chip Wood
It was 101 years ago this week, on Oct. 1, 1908, that Henry Ford unveiled what would become the most popular automobile in the world, the Model T.
Ford promised, "I will build a car for the great multitude. 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 wide open spaces."
He kept that promise with the Model T.
The first versions sold for $850. A customer could choose among four colors: red, green, blue or black. Within five years, the price had dropped to just $250, or less than a month’s pay for one of his factory workers. And the color choices had been reduced, too. As Ford said, customers could get "any color they want, as long as it’s black."
The Model T’s four-cylinder engine cranked out 20 horsepower and got 21 miles to the gallon. That’s less horsepower than some of today’s riding lawnmowers. But the car could cruise at a hefty 45 miles per hour. For the first time in history men (and women and children) were free to travel where they wanted, when they wanted. The Model T liberated Americans in ways few visionaries could imagine.
Ford was richly rewarded for his genius. Sadly, this staunch conservative failed to protect his legacy, and the organization he funded with his wealth was captured and subverted by the left. Today, the Ford Foundation finances policies and programs that are the complete opposite of the views and the wishes of the man whose money founded it.