Of the automakers still standing today, few have as much historical significance as the Ford Motor Company. Due to its pioneering spirit, the automaker managed to succeed in one of the toughest eras in the country, which embodies what the US is all about. When an automaker reaches the pinnacle, especially for such a long period, urban legends are going to pop up.
The origin of urban legends can be mysterious and seemingly impossible to trace back. Yet what seems to make them stick over time, to where people accept them as factual nuggets of history, are that they’re rooted in some truth. If one part of an urban legend isn’t true or at least doesn’t seem possible, then it won’t have a leg to stand on.
Urban legends are appealing for a number of reasons. They tend to be humorous or sensationalized to the point where people want to believe they really happened. Even loyal Ford fans have taken to these myths about their beloved car brand. Perhaps these stories only serve to amuse their Uber driver giving them a lift after their Ford has broken down.
Even though they’re just fables, we’ve got a weakness for urban legends. If you share the same affinity for them as we do, check out our 20 creepy urban legends about cars that could be true. We were able to dig up urban legends exclusively on Ford Motors, its history and other anecdotes surrounding the brand. We’re sad to say that while many of these urban legends came about out of truths, they’re mostly interesting falsehoods about Ford many fans still believe today.
19 Ford Based The Mustang’s Styling On The 1900 Alfa Romeo CSS
There’s an interesting idea floating around that Ford may have found inspiration from a car maker across the pond. Thrillist reports that early drawings of the Mustang looked a lot like the Alfa Romeo 1900 CSS. They only made one CSS, so it might not be as well-known, but they may be on to something.
They point to similarities between the body's styling, such as the vents between the side and rear windows. Even they admit it’s something of an urban legend though. Without proof that Ford did, in fact, get design cues from the CSS, it will continue to remain a tall tale.
18 Mustangs Sell For More In California Than Anywhere Else In Country
For some reason, an idea has gone around for years that Mustangs sell for more in California. This, according to the site Mustang and Fords, leads those who live anywhere else other than the west coast into rethinking the sale of their vintage Mustangs.
In reality, though, this is just a myth. The same source reports that the market is the same anywhere in the country. With the rise of the internet, it’s never been easier to check for oneself, while this may have flown in the years before the web. Like many urban legends though, this one has caught on and hasn’t disappeared yet.
17 Bring A 1943 Copper Penny Into A Ford Dealer And They’ll Trade It For A New Car
Sounds attractive, but it’s one of those urban legends that’s managed to survive despite starting long ago. In the 1940s, as per the site All-Lies, Ford began a promotion that entailed trading in a copper penny made in 1943 for a new car. The pennies were mostly steel-based though, so customers got the ol' bait-and-switch sales tactic instead.
The site even notes they launched a similar campaign a year later only this time it involved 1922 dimes. They even suggest that Ford technically never ended the offer. A promotion like this may sound intriguing, but it likely isn’t and never was valid.
16 O.J. Simpson’s White Bronco Forced Ford To Discontinue Model
Love it or hate it, the Ford Bronco has been splitting drivers since it first arrived over 50 years ago. According to The Lasco Press, Ford decided to call it quits on the Bronco back in 1996. Many will blame this on an event that happened just two years prior on June 17, 1994. That's when O.J. Simpson went for a little ride in his white Bronco and caught the nation's attention.
The urban legend goes that due to this infamous event, Ford canned the Bronco because the publicity wasn't good for it. That, according to the same source, isn’t why Ford got rid of the Bronco but rather was due to a sudden interest in 4-door SUVs.
15 Henry Ford said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses"
For real history about the automaker, check out our little known facts about the Ford Motor Company. For fun fictional stories instead, read on. Many believe that Ford, in reference to making the Model T—a car that changed everything—wisely said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Harvard Business Review makes a case, however, that there’s no proof Ford even said it. It’s one of those urban legends people would like to believe though considering the Model T—along with its maker—were so revolutionary. It sounds good in history books but doesn’t reflect what really happened.
14 Someone Test Drove A Ford Focus Just To Move A Christmas Tree
There’s a funny story involving a customer's visit to a Ford dealership. According to Auto Influence, someone came in wanting to test drive the Focus. For some reason, the salesperson decided to let the customer take it out without joining him. Sound fishy yet?
Anyways, the customer was gone for 45 minutes, then returned with the car intact and said they would pass on it. The salesperson took a look at the car and found remnants of a tree still inside. That’s when his deductive reasoning kicked in and he realized the customer had just taken it to move a Christmas tree! Yeah, we’re not falling for this silly tale either.
13 Touching Sam Walton’s 1979 Ford F-150’s Door Handle Will Make You Frugal
Sam Walton founded the popular chain of megastores known as Walmart. According to Ford Social, he owned a 1979 Ford F-150 custom that currently sits in an Arkansas museum. The same source notes that there’s an urban legend about those who are brave enough to reach out and touch the truck's door handle.
Doing so gives that person a frugal disposition, which is exactly what the truck represents, considering Walton didn't use his earnings from Walmart to buy a Ferrari or Bugatti. Instead, he stuck with his dependable F-150. Touching the truck’s handle though will only make the museum guards upset.
12 Al Capone Wrote To Henry Ford Praising His Cars
This next urban legend associates Henry Ford with another big figure at the time: notorious gangster Al Capone. According to the book Urban Legends: The As-Complete-As-One-Could-Be Guide To Modern Myths by Ngaire E. Genge, Al Capone spoke highly of their products. He liked how fast they went and how well they held together, which would greatly benefit Capone in his infamous line of work.
The book goes on to note that Ford wasn’t too thrilled to receive this letter, considering who it came from. Thankfully the automaker doesn’t have to worry about these ties with Capone, which the book suggests is all just a tale.
11 The Goldberg Brothers And Ford Struck A Deal On Automobile AC
This one has to be an urban legend considering it’s essentially an elaborate pun that a dad would share. The story goes, as per Hoax-Slayer, that there were four brothers with the last name Goldberg who presented Ford with the idea of AC.
Ford was a fan of the idea, but not so much of the brothers’ request to have the words “The Goldberg Air-Conditioner” etched inside every one of his cars. The urban legend goes that he settled on putting all their first names on the control module instead: Lo (short for Lowell), Norm (Norman), Hi (Hiram) and Max. Get it?
10 The Mustang’s Name Came From SMU’s Football Team
There are a lot of theories about where exactly Ford’s most popular model of cars got its name from. According to Ford’s website, in a story even they share with a grain of salt, the brand came up with the name after being so impressed with watching a football game. The Southern Methodist University football team, best known as the Mustangs, beat the University of Michigan in September 1963.
Ford VP Lee Iacocca, according to the same source, announced that they’d be calling their new car the Mustang because of their inspiring performance. It seems like a stretch and even Ford isn’t buying it.
9 A Ford Car Wouldn’t Start Whenever The Owner Bought Vanilla Ice Cream
Ever heard the story about Fred and his Ford car that won’t start whenever he buys vanilla ice cream? According to the site Management Pro, this customer notified Ford Motors about his issue, forcing them to investigate further. In the end, they deduced it was all due to vapor lock because the time it took Fred to get vanilla ice cream from the shop. Being that it's the most popular flavor, they always have vanilla ready on hand.
The other flavors weren’t ordered as much, so they were in a part of the shop that took longer to fetch. It isn’t hard to believe this one is an urban legend.
8 Ford Struggled To Land On A Name For What Would Become The Mustang
Mustangs are automobile legends. Naturally, the history behind it is going to take on mythic qualities. According to the site Mustang and Fords, the idea that the company struggled to come up with a name for their legendary car was a myth. One of the names some came up with was Cougar, another Thunderbird II, when in fact Mustang came about rather easily in early meetings.
The same source notes that Donald Frey, a Ford product manager, cleared the air on this urban legend. He said Lee Iacocca, Hal Sperlich, Donald Peterson, himself and others working on it landed on the name early on. “Right from the very start,” Frey said, “we intended to call the car Mustang.” That certainly disproves the urban legends surrounding the Mustang name.
7 Henry Ford Purposely Lessened The Quality Of A Model T Part For Financial Gain
Henry Ford has been the subject of urban legends, many of which made this list. According to the site John Hawks Weblog, one legend claims that Henry Ford may have intentionally lowered the quality of a particular part in his famous Model T. After having his team scour a scrapyard for Model T parts, they found that the kingpins—a part important that plays a role in steering—were still in good shape.
Ford then supposedly ordered lesser quality kingpins go into production to maximize profits. The same source notes, however, that it’s just a legend and that even the part chosen seems arbitrary and may have just sounded good for the sake of the story.
6 A 1968 W-Code 427 Mustang Exists
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? That question certainly fits this urban legend, which according to the site Mustang and Fords, asserts that the W-Code 427s made it into a few 1968 Mustangs. The same source astutely asks, however, whether anyone’s really seen it?
While they’ve received claims from enthusiasts who’ve witnessed them, there’s no photographic proof out there. It casts the whole story in a new light, making many doubt whether Ford really managed to churn out any W-Code 427 Mustangs in the first place.
5 Henry Ford Came Up With The Assembly Line
Everyone attributes Henry Ford himself with the assembly line. According to DriveTribe, Ford Motors is, in fact, the first place to have actually used this method, but the company's founder didn't come up with it. That’s just an urban legend.
They assert that Clarence Avery, Peter E. Martin, Charles E. Sorensen, and C. Harold Wills are all responsible for coming up with the assembly line. They all worked at Ford Motors, so one can see where the mix up occurs. Most schools teach the assembly line in history, so it’s understandable people assume Henry Ford was the man behind the idea.
4 Charles Schulz Only Ever Had A Ford, Which Led To The Peanuts-Ford Falcons Ads
If there’s an urban legend on this list that’s probably true, it’s this one. Still, there’s no way to know for sure. There’s a little tale going around, as per CBR, that Ford Motors was just coming out with the Falcon. They wanted to do an ad campaign that involved the iconic Peanuts characters and pitched the idea to Charles Schulz, the cartoonist behind Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
Bill Melendez, a producer, and director behind Peanuts who was in on the meeting between Ford and Schulz sat down with Animation Magazine. According to Melendez, Schulz had only ever had a Ford car and agreed to the ads based on his personal affinity for the brand. CBR thinks it’s something of a stretch though.
3 Ford Built The First Jeep
Ford had a hand in the first Jeeps to roll off the production line, which makes sense to some depending on how they feel about each brands’ quality. While it’s true that Ford once made Jeeps, they weren’t the first automaker to do it.
According to Living History Farm, the Jeep came about before WWII when the U.S. commissioned over a hundred automakers for a vehicle that could handle the battlefield. Willys ended up producing Jeeps and Ford joined in later and even used the same blueprint Willys had based theirs off of. Hemmings reports that Willys continued to produce Jeeps after that.
2 Ford Borrowed Hybrid Technology From Toyota
Ford fans may not like the Prius—or hybrid vehicles, for that matter—but they should know Ford isn’t entirely opposed. Back in 2011, Autoblog reports they teamed up with Toyota to work on a hybrid system that went into vehicles. They go on to note that there’s an urban legend about these two major automakers before.
The story goes that Ford once licensed out technology from Toyota to help with their hybrids. Despite being a widely-circulated story, Autoblog reports that it wasn’t true. That just makes it another urban legend among many surrounding the Ford Motor Company, which continues to be a popular automaker today.
1 The Dearborn Independent’s Views Were, Ahem, “Independent” Of Henry Ford’s
There’s another side of Henry Ford many don’t know about. He was also an opinionated figure whose platform didn’t always gel with the public. How Stuff Works reports that he had a newspaper called the Dearborn Independent. In retrospect, people have some issues with the stances the paper took, which has led—what the same source notes—historians to distance Ford from what his paper printed.
How Stuff Works notes, however, that it’s hard to separate the man from his paper’s views since he likely oversaw what it printed. While it’s not clear where this urban legend came from, it makes sense if people did it to preserve Ford’s image.
Sources: John Hawks Weblog, Hoax-Slayer, Harvard Business Review, How Stuff Works, Google Books, “Urban Legends: The As-Complete-As-One-Could-Be Guide to Modern Myths” by Ngaire E. Genge, CBR, Animation Magazine, Hemmings, Living History Farm, Auto Influence, Ford Social, Red Ice TV, The Lasco Press, DriveTribe, Ford, Thrillist, Autoblog, All-Lies, Management Pro, Mustang and Fords