When Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903, nobody knew that the organization would become the second biggest automobile manufacturer in the United States and the fifth biggest in the world.
The company sells commercial vehicles under the Ford brand and most of its luxury vehicles under the Lincoln brand. The US company also acquired part ownership in other car companies such as Aston Martin and Jiangling Motors in China. The Ford Motor Company also owned Jaguar, Volvo, and Land Rover.
Ford started with $28,000 raised amongst 12 investors and became one of the world's most profitable companies, earning more than $150 billion in revenue for the 2017 fiscal year. Apart from contributing to the United States economy, the Ford Motor Company also employed more than 200,0000 employees globally.
Ford produced model T and A, which helped catapult the company's success by selling millions of cars during the early 1900s. Some competitors tried to emulate Ford's business model but failed to achieve the same success. Many car pundits wondered how Henry Ford managed to do what nobody else had done, especially as Ford had failed in ventures before starting the Ford Motor Company.
As with any successful organization, Ford Motor Company had secrets that propelled it to new heights. We explored the history of the Ford Motor Company and discover facts about the organization and its cars that most people don't know.
20 The F-150 Is Built In 52 Seconds
You might ask, "How is that possible?" One of the main reasons that Ford Motor Company has been so successful is due to the mass production. The workers at the Dearborn Truck Plant have perfected the art of assembling the F-150.
"We build one F-150 every 52 seconds at this plant," said Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker. The plant generates more than $100 million in revenue daily. In one month, the workers at the Dearborn Truck Plant can produce more than 30,000 vehicles. The stringent procedures and skilled staff make Ford one of the best car manufacturers in the world.
19 The Company Funded Dodge Brothers Motor Company
The Dodge brothers agreed to supply Ford chassis for $250, thereby beginning a profitable but stormy partnership. The Dodge brothers lent Ford $10,000 in credit for parts and took 100 shares in the Ford Motor Company.
During the 15-year partnership, the partners grappled over various matters. The Dodge brothers left Ford but earned $3.8 million in dividends from their stock and another $1.7 million in profits on the Ford contracts.
Ford bought out the ten percent that the Dodge brothers owned of the company for $25 million. The Dodge brothers used the money to start the Dodge Brothers Motor Company.
18 Ford Tried To Buy Ferrari And Alfa Romeo
The Ford family was satisfied with the success of Ford Motor Company but wanted world domination in the automobile market. One of the strategies that the family deployed was to buy other car manufacturers. Henry Ford II propositioned Enzo Ferrari to buy the manufacturer, but Enzo backed out at the last minute.
Enzo's whim to back out angered Ford, who demanded that the engineers built the Ford GT40 for the Le Mans to beat Ferrari. In 1986, Ford also looked into buying Alfa Romeo. "When I see an Alfa Romeo go by, I tip my hat," Ford stated.
17 Ford Made Airplanes
The automaker succeeded in providing a vehicle that almost every citizen could own, but the company also wanted to put every citizen in an airplane. Ford hired Otto Koppen and designated him to design a small, light plane. Koppen finished the design in 1926 and called the plane Ford Flivver.
Koppen designed the plane's flaps to give it maximum upward lift in small spaces. People perceived the plane to be a success. When a pilot attempted to fly from Michigan to Miami on a single gas tank, he crashed bringing the project to an end.
16 Ford Placed A Mustang On The Empire State Building
The biggest car companies in the world are masters of marketing. Ford wanted to make a statement when it celebrated Mustang's 50th anniversary, so the company placed a Mustang on the deck of the Empire State Building.
The deck was 1,000 feet in the air, so the engineers could not use a crane to haul it to the top. Ford instructed the engineers to chop a Mustang into six pieces and use the freight elevator to assemble the car on the deck in the early hours of April 2014.
15 The First Monster Truck Was A Ford
Bob Chandler was responsible for building the first official monster truck in 1975 and debuted it in 1979. Chandler dubbed the truck Bigfoot, which became a well-known moniker. Chandler started building the monster truck using the family's 1974 Ford F-250 four-wheel drive.
When Chandler discovered that automotive shops in the Midwest didn't carry parts needed to repair his frequently-wrecked 4x4, he opened a shop called Midwest Four Wheel Drive and Performance Center in Ferguson, Missouri. By the mid-1980s, many truck owners emulated Chandler's template of fitting their vehicles with large tires.
14 Ford GT40 Beat Ferraris
When you talk about car manufacturers from Italy that make outstanding supercars, you cannot leave Ferrari out of the conversation. Ferrari won the Le Mans six-times in a row from 1960 until 1965. Ford wanted to beat Ferrari and instructed its engineers to design the GT40.
In 1966, with Henry Ford II in attendance at the Le Mans, the GT40 provided Ford the first overall Le Mans victory. The celebrations didn't stop that year, as the GT40 won the 24 Hour of Le Mans for another three consecutive times until 1969.
13 Ford's Utopian City Was Called Fordlandia
Henry Ford brought hope to the people of Brazil in 1928 by intending to revive the ailing economy. Ford wanted to find a cheap source of latex that would allow the Ford Motor Company to produce tires, thereby reducing costs.
Apart from reducing company costs, Ford also wanted to build its ideal city, which would fuse the same concepts that Ford had championed throughout his career.
Ford found a location in the Amazon forest and called it Fordlandia. During the negotiations with the state Pera, Ford discovered that the project would not be beneficial and after running into numerous problems during the operation. Ford II sold the land back to Brazil, according to The Guardian.
12 The Nuclear Powered Concept Was Called Ford Nucleon
Due to the company's rising success, Ford garnered a lot of competition. To stand out from the competition, Ford designed a future nuclear-powered concept car in 1957. The design was one of a few that existed in the 1950s and 1960s.
Instead of including an internal-combustion engine, Ford designed a small nuclear reactor to power the vehicle from the rear and called it Ford Nucleon. Nuclear technology was new at the time that Ford designed the Nucleon, but Ford envisioned a future where full-service recharge stations replaced gas stations.
11 Henry Ford Worked For Thomas Edison
Birds of a feather flock together. Rich people aren't friends with other rich people by accident. Before Ford started the Ford Motor Company, he worked for inventor Thomas Edison. Ford was chief engineer at Edison Illuminating Company. He was in charge of keeping the city's electricity flowing and on call 24 hours a day.
Ford didn't have regular working hours and worked on building a gasoline-powered vehicle when he completed his tasks at Edison's company. In 1899, Ford left Edison Illuminating Company to concentrate on automobile production.
10 Lincoln Futura Became The Batmobile
Ford produced the Futura under the Lincoln brand and it was hand-built in Turin, Italy. Lincoln displayed the car in 1955 at an auto show circuit, but the Futura had a complete drivetrain and was operable, unlike many show cars.
The engineers derived the chassis from the Continental Mark II and fitted a 368 cubic Lincoln engine under the bonnet. The car was a success, garnering Ford favorable publicity. Ford sold the car to modifier George Barris, who was contracted to design the Batmobile for the 1966 television series, Batman.
9 Ford Inspired Sakichi Toyoda
Sakichi Toyoda was an inventor from Japan and industrialist. As Ford garnered popularity for building outstanding vehicles, inspiring automobile manufacturers wondered how Henry Ford achieved success. Toyoda started the Toyoda family companies and sent his son, Kiichiro Toyoda, to work for Ford and discover Ford's secrets.
Toyoda learned everything about the Ford Motor Company and incorporated the ideas into his new business called Toyota. Not only was Ford brilliant at manufacturing cars but he also mentored other prominent car manufacturers.
8 The Company Has A Secret Collection
During the 115 years that the Ford Motor Company has built vehicles, it has added numerous spectacular vehicles to its repertoire. Although many vehicles that Ford produced since establishment are no longer in production, the company wanted to collect all the manufactured vehicles.
Ford Dagenham is a major automotive factory in London, England. Vehicle assembly at the plant ceased in 2002, but the factory is responsible for assembling more than a million engines annually. Ford has stashed every model it produced at the Dagenham factory.
7 Henry Ford Failed In Two Businesses
Third time is the charm. Whoever said that you won't succeed in business if you don't make it the first time has never owned one. "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently," Ford said.
Ford spent all the money from his investors in the first business without producing a car. 18 months after starting the first company, Ford liquidated it. Then, Ford opened the Henry Ford Company and left after a year of operations. The investors and everyone else had written him off and were concerned when Ford stated that the mistakes were invaluable lessons.
6 Bonnie And Clyde Recommended Ford As A Getaway Vehicle
The most notorious criminals, Bonnie and Clyde, were in love with each other and Ford V8. Clyde Barrow wrote a letter to Henry Ford in 1934;
"While I still got breath in my lungs, I will tell you what a dandy car you make. I have driven Fords exclusively when I could get away with one. For sustained speed and freedom from trouble, the Ford has got ever other car skinned and even if my business hasn't been strictly legal, it don’t hurt anything to tell you what a fine car you got in the V8..," Barrow stated.
Clyde Barrow's biographer, Jeff Guinn, stated that it is very likely that Clyde wrote and mailed the letter, as opposed to Bonnie Parker.
5 Engineer Charged Ford $10,000 To Draw A Mark
Henry Ford has been vocal about his dislike for experts;
“I never employ an expert in full bloom. If I ever wanted to kill opposition by unfair means, I would endow the opposition with experts.”
When Ford's engineers couldn't solve a problem, the company hired the services of Charles Proteus Steinmetz. Steinmetz rejected help from the engineers and solved the problem within two days with the aid of a notebook, a pencil, and a cot. Steinmetz made a chalk mark on the defunct generator and told the engineers what to replace. When Henry Ford saw the $10,000 bill he demanded that Steinmetz itemizes it, making a chalk mark on generator equal to a dollar. Knowing where to make the mark cost $9,999.
4 Ford Received 6 Cents For Defamation Case
When the Chicago Tribune called Ford an ignorant idealist and an anarchist enemy of the nation, he sued the newspaper for defamation and $1 million in damages. The lawsuit went to trial in 1919 and lasted for 14 weeks.
The Chicago Tribune sought to demonstrate that Ford, indeed, was an ignorant idealist, according to List Verse. “Mr. Ford has been submitted to severe examination of his intellectual qualities. He has not received a pass,” declared The New York Times. The New York Post called Ford “a joke.” The jury ruled in favor of Ford and awarded him six cents in damages, which the Tribune didn't pay.
3 Model T's Were Unreliable
One of the Ford models that stood out from the rest is the Model T. The car played a key role in catapulting the company success. The key strategy that made the Model T so successful was the Ford figured out a way to mass produce the vehicle.
Considering that Ford made the car cheap so that almost everyone could afford it, that meant that the company used subpar materials during production. When the police department acquired a fleet of vehicles, they selected the Model T. The police soon replaced the fleet with more reliable cars, as they realized that the repair costs were more than the price of the car.
2 The T Model Was The Car Of The 20th Century
The first Model T design had a 2.9-liter inline engine that was capable of pumping out 20 horsepower. The car had a rear-wheel drive with a transmission that consisted of two forward and one reverse gear.
Production of the Model T started in 1908 and ended in 1927. During that period, Ford sold more than 15 million units. In 1999, the judges proclaimed that the Ford Model T was the most influential car of the century during the Car of the Century competition.
1 Current CEO Owns The First Ford
The Ford Motor Company has been a family run business for more than a century. The Ford family prefers to keep the company ownership in the family, as well as all the legendary cars.
William Clay Ford Jr. is the current CEO of the company and the great-grandson of Henry Ford. He also serves as the chairman of the company. Being the chairman and CEO of the company allowed Ford Jr. perks that Ford consumers cannot experience. He is the proud owner of the first Ford produced, which happened in 1903. Don't bother asking Ford Jr. to sell the vehicle as he prefers Ford possessions to remain in the family.
Sources - The Guardian & Auto Wise