Using a converted Detroit factory and $28,000 from twelve investors (among them the Dodge brothers John and Horace), 40 year old Henry Ford began what would become one of the worlds largest and most influential automobile empires in 1903. The original car was the Model A, which morphed into the Model S by 1908, the same year that Henry Ford released the most famous of them all, the Model T. Widely regarded today as the father of modern production techniques, production would increase exponentially when the company moved to their own Piquette Road facility in 1909.
That year, some 18,000+ Model T’s would roll off the production line, the affordability of the car helping bring unprecedented demand – for the automobile was no longer the play-thing for the rich and influential. Moving to an even bigger facility at Highland Park, by 1911 production of the Model T had reached 70,000+, and by 1913 the company had developed the first moving assembly line, the term “mass production” entering the vocabulary.
The benefits of the moving assembly line were immediately evident, with the time taken for the assembly of a chassis being slashed from 12½ hours to just 2 hours, 40 minutes. The new production techniques did, however, lead to general employee dissatisfaction and high turn-over. With Ford needing to continually train and up-skill workers, a solution was needed. The answer was to double pay to $5 a day, cut shifts from nine hours to an eight hour day for a 5 day work week, and institute hiring practices that identified the best workers.
Thus, it pioneered the minimum wage and the 40 hour work week in the United States, even before the government enacted it. With the employee relations issues well sorted, production times would again start to fall, and productivity rise. By 1919 Ford was manufacturing 50% of all cars in the USA, and by 1920 (when production hit the one-million mark), half of all cars in the continental United States were Model T’s.
Model T's also became a popular export, many receiving unique features to ensure their suitability, such as enlarging the upper tank of the radiator to ensure better cooling in tropical climates. During the twenties the roadster and touring bodies were supplied with an optional 'khaki' colored top material as the black version would get too hot in the intense sunlight. Also the majority of the export destination countries (such as Australia) drove on the left hand side of the road so the cars had the steering wheel on the right hand side. With many countries insisting that their workers should be used in the manufacture of automobiles, Ford embarked on an overseas expansion programme, which included Ford South Africa (1924), Ford Canada (1925) and Ford Australia (1925).
1908 - 1927
Ask most people to name a vintage car, and the answer will invariably be “The Model T”. With over 15 million being manufactured in the USA, South Africa, Canada and Australia, it is widely regarded not only as the car that “put the nation on wheels”, but the car that put the world on wheels. More>>
1927 - 1931
The Model A Ford was the successor to the popular Model T, it first being released to the public on December 2nd, 1927. Ford desperately needed the Model A, with sales of the once popular Model T having been in decline for several years. More>>
1932 - 1934
Unlike the Model T that had enjoyed a near 20 year production run, Ford knew that to retain market share, they would have to turn models over regularly as did their competitors. And so the Model A was replaced in 1932 by the Model B, carrying over the 4L engine layout however offering some minor refinements. More>>
1952 - 1956
Immediately following the war most manufacturers, understandably, continued with the manufacture of designs dating back to the previous decade. Ford’s first and much anticipated new model line up arrived in 1949, however the 1952 revision, while based heavily on the 1949 design, heralded a new design direction. More>>
Gaining notorioty recently for all the wrong reasons, the perennial Crown Victoria has lineage dating back to 1955. Today however it is best known as a police vehicle, accounting for over 90% of the police fleet in the US and Canada. More>>
1956 - 1959
The beauty of any big American car of the era was its ability to soak up the miles effortlessly, and at the end of a long trip there were none better able to deliver both driver and passenger free of fatigue and in such great comfort. More>>
1957 - 1979
The Ranchero, the first US designed "Ute", was an ever popular model in the Ford line-up - its popularity ensuring it would enjoy a longevity spanning 23 years, from 1957 through 1979. Naturally during this time the vehicle underwent several significant revisions, with the last model bearing no resemblance to the first - however in all versions the car remained exceedingly popular, with some 508,000 vehicles manufactured. More>>
1961 - 1964
Although first introduced in 1959, it was the sleek models of the 1960's that presented an all-new style, abandoning the ostentatious ornamentation of the 50s for a futuristic, sleek look. It was obvious that Ford's stylists were abandoning the aviation influences of the previous decade and instead capturing the new obsession - the space race. More>>
1963 - 1965
The Ford Falcon Sprint first came into prominence at the beginning of 1963 at the time of the Monte Carlo Rally, which it narrowly missed winning. The rally cars were hardtop coupes, specially prepared and tuned, although a little more attention to the durability of the suspension components should have been made to the Aussie design (for more on this, read the Ford Falcon Story). More>>
1964 - 1966
The story of the GT40 goes back to the early 1960s, when Henry Ford was negotiating to buy Ferrari. His offer was rejected by Enzo Ferrari in last minute negotiations, and in retaliation Henry set about building a Ford able to dominate racing and beat the Ferrari teams. More>>
1966 - 1996
From the ground up, the Australian assembled Bronco had specifications and equipment levels equal to or better than the competition. Only aesthetic areas remained open for criticism which seemed to polarise opinions – some loved it, some hated it. The team here at Unique Cars and Parts fall into the first category, considering it a neat example of U.S. styling that carried with it a continuation of the Ford world-wide grill and headlight treatment. More>>
Ford made it hard for the competition with their formidable line-up of the ‘60s. Much is said about the Mustang, but there was another in the stable that was utterly brilliant. A true muscle car in every sense of the word, the 1968 Torino took the fight up to just about everything. As delivered from the factory, the Torino was a quality vehicle. More>>
1975 - 1980
Ford USA's Granada-Monarch (Ford and Mercury versions respectively) were originally conceived as a replacement for “compact” Maverick. Ford looked at importing the European Granada instead of designing a completely new car, but the cost of "federalizing" the German vehicle was prohibitive. And it was during the design of the Granada that it became a totally new car both in concept and execution. More>>
1977 - 1985
The Courier was powered by Mazda's well known but noisy 1.8 litre ohc four cylinder, which endowed the 1145kg vehicle with respectable un-laden performance. Standard kit on the XLT was the column mounted 4 speed gearbox, which had the added advantage of allowing you to travel 3 up in the front – although you would have wanted to be very good friends as it was a considerable squeeze. More>>
1986 - 1991
Things can change quickly in the automobile business. In 1980, Ford's US. operation was losing a record $1 billion a year attempting to sell a line of products that were outdated and dull. In comparison, the competition had showrooms filled with high-tech, front wheel drive cars designed for the eighties. Ford was still cranking out rear-wheel drives styled for the seventies. Although Ford's European operation was healthy and dynamic, the US. company was in serious trouble. More>>