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The Henry Ford story

Henry Ford has changed the way of life for many people with his vision to make owning a car both practical and affordable. The moving assembly line and mass production techniques that he developed, set the standard for worldwide industrial practice in the first half of the 20th Century.

The Henry Ford story

Henry Ford has changed the way of life for many people with his vision to make owning a car both practical and affordable. The moving assembly line and mass production techniques that he developed, set the standard for worldwide industrial practice in the first half of the 20th Century.

The story begins in Springwells Township, Wayne County, Michigan, on 30 July 1863, when Henry was the first-born of William and Mary Ford’s six children. Growing up on a prosperous family farm, he was educated in a one-room school, where he showed an early interest in all things mechanical. This interest would develop into true genius and earn him the accolade of ‘one of the greatest industrialists in the world’.

The story begins in Springwells Township, Wayne County, Michigan, on 30 July 1863, when Henry was the first-born of William and Mary Ford’s six children. Growing up on a prosperous family farm, he was educated in a one-room school, where he showed an early interest in all things mechanical. This interest would develop into true genius and earn him the accolade of ‘one of the greatest industrialists in the world’.

Learning The Trade

Henry Ford started young. By the age of 12, he was spending most of his spare time in a small machine shop, which he had equipped himself. It was here that he constructed his first steam engine, in 1878, aged just 15. The next year, Henry left home, bound for the nearby city of Detroit, to work as an apprentice machinist.

By 1891, he had become an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. A promotion to Chief Engineer two years later, gave him enough time and money to devote more attention to his personal experiments on internal combustion engines.

The culmination of his experiments was the building of a self-propelled vehicle – the Quadricycle – in 1896. The first Ford engine spluttered its way into history, on his wooden kitchen table at 58 Bagley Avenue and this was quickly followed by his next design, an engine mounted on a frame, fitted with four bicycle wheels – the first Ford car.

Learning The Trade

Henry Ford started young. By the age of 12, he was spending most of his spare time in a small machine shop, which he had equipped himself. It was here that he constructed his first steam engine, in 1878, aged just 15. The next year, Henry left home, bound for the nearby city of Detroit, to work as an apprentice machinist.

By 1891, he had become an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. A promotion to Chief Engineer two years later, gave him enough time and money to devote more attention to his personal experiments on internal combustion engines.

The culmination of his experiments was the building of a self-propelled vehicle – the Quadricycle – in 1896. The first Ford engine spluttered its way into history, on his wooden kitchen table at 58 Bagley Avenue and this was quickly followed by his next design, an engine mounted on a frame, fitted with four bicycle wheels – the first Ford car.

Learning the trade
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Starting The Ford Motor Company

The history of the car would be changed forever when the Ford Motor Company was incorporated, in 1903, with Henry Ford holding 25.5% of the stock and acting both as Vice President and Chief Engineer. At first only a few cars a day were produced at the Ford factory on Mack Avenue, Detroit, where two or three men worked on each car built from components made to order by other companies. The first car built by the company, was sold on 23 July 1903, and Henry became President before becoming the controlling owner three years later.

Starting The Ford Motor Company

The history of the car would be changed forever when the Ford Motor Company was incorporated, in 1903, with Henry Ford holding 25.5% of the stock and acting both as Vice President and Chief Engineer. At first only a few cars a day were produced at the Ford factory on Mack Avenue, Detroit, where two or three men worked on each car built from components made to order by other companies. The first car built by the company, was sold on 23 July 1903, and Henry became President before becoming the controlling owner three years later.

A New Generation

Things were advancing rapidly. 1919 saw Henry and his son, Edsel, acquire the interest of all minority stockholders for $105,568,858 and become the sole owners of the company. Edsel, who succeeded his father as President that year, continued to occupy the position up until his death in 1943, when Henry Ford returned to the driving seat of the company.

A New Generation

Things were advancing rapidly. 1919 saw Henry and his son, Edsel, acquire the interest of all minority stockholders for $105,568,858 and become the sole owners of the company. Edsel, who succeeded his father as President that year, continued to occupy the position up until his death in 1943, when Henry Ford returned to the driving seat of the company.

A new generation
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Retirement

After resigning as president of Ford Motor Company for the second time during September 1945, Henry was succeeded by his grandson, Henry Ford II. In the following year, he was honoured at the American Automotive Golden Jubilee for his major contributions to the motor industry and later that year, the American Petroleum Institute also awarded him its first gold medal for outstanding contributions to the welfare of humanity.

Retirement

After resigning as president of Ford Motor Company for the second time during September 1945, Henry was succeeded by his grandson, Henry Ford II. In the following year, he was honoured at the American Automotive Golden Jubilee for his major contributions to the motor industry and later that year, the American Petroleum Institute also awarded him its first gold medal for outstanding contributions to the welfare of humanity.

The End Of An Era

Henry Ford died at his home, in Fairlane in Dearborn, on 7 April 1947, at 11.40pm. He was 83. At the time of his death, the local Rouge river had flooded causing a local power cut. With Kerosene lamps and candles lit, the scene must have been more reminiscent of his birth 83 years earlier.

The End Of An Era

Henry Ford died at his home, in Fairlane in Dearborn, on 7 April 1947, at 11.40pm. He was 83. At the time of his death, the local Rouge river had flooded causing a local power cut. With Kerosene lamps and candles lit, the scene must have been more reminiscent of his birth 83 years earlier.

The end of an era

The Ford Trademark

The Ford oval trademark is one of the best-known corporate symbols in the world and has been in regular use for more than 50 years. The script trademark dates back to the very beginning of the company when Henry Ford’s engineering assistant developed a stylised version of the words ‘Ford Motor Company’. Here’s how it has evolved over the years.

The Ford Trademark

The Ford oval trademark is one of the best-known corporate symbols in the world and has been in regular use for more than 50 years. The script trademark dates back to the very beginning of the company when Henry Ford’s engineering assistant developed a stylised version of the words ‘Ford Motor Company’. Here’s how it has evolved over the years.

1903
The First Logo

The script lettering was first used on company communications at the start of 1903. The first production car, the Model A, received special treatment – the first Ford logo for the car had a fashionable art nouveau border.

1903
The First Logo

The script lettering was first used on company communications at the start of 1903. The first production car, the Model A, received special treatment – the first Ford logo for the car had a fashionable art nouveau border.

1906
Script with Wings

By 1906, a more developed form of script appeared with long-tailed ‘F’ and ‘D’ letters – known as the ‘script with wings’. This logo was used on all Ford cars up to the end of 1910, when the lettering was revised again into the form that is still in use today. The Ford script trademark was registered at the United States Patent Office in 1909.

1906
Script with Wings

By 1906, a more developed form of script appeared with long-tailed ‘F’ and ‘D’ letters – known as the ‘script with wings’. This logo was used on all Ford cars up to the end of 1910, when the lettering was revised again into the form that is still in use today. The Ford script trademark was registered at the United States Patent Office in 1909.

1907
First Oval

The first Ford oval was originally used by British agents Perry, Thornton and Schreiber – the forerunners of the original Ford Motor Company Limited of Great Britain. This oval was used to advertise the Ford as the ‘hallmark for reliability and economy’.

1907
First Oval

The first Ford oval was originally used by British agents Perry, Thornton and Schreiber – the forerunners of the original Ford Motor Company Limited of Great Britain. This oval was used to advertise the Ford as the ‘hallmark for reliability and economy’.

1911
Definate Oval

By combining the script and oval, Ford created the definitive logo. The Ford vehicles and company communications continued to use the script lettering until the late 1920s.

1911
Definate Oval

By combining the script and oval, Ford created the definitive logo. The Ford vehicles and company communications continued to use the script lettering until the late 1920s.

1912
The Universal Car

For a brief time, Ford did move away from the oval design and used a winged triangle design on their cars. Originally designed to symbolise speed, lightness, grace and stability, the logo was produced in orange or dark blue and carried the words ‘The Universal Car’. Henry Ford disliked the design and it was swiftly discontinued.

1912
The Universal Car

For a brief time, Ford did move away from the oval design and used a winged triangle design on their cars. Originally designed to symbolise speed, lightness, grace and stability, the logo was produced in orange or dark blue and carried the words ‘The Universal Car’. Henry Ford disliked the design and it was swiftly discontinued.

1927
Ford Oval Badge

The new Model A was the first Ford vehicle to carry the Ford oval as a radiator badge. With the familiar deep royal blue background that we know today, the logo was used on many cars until the end of the 1950s.

The blue oval then disappeared from the various bonnets and grilles of cars until the mid-1970s, with just the word ‘Ford’ appearing instead. Although the Ford oval badge was still used consistently on company communications, during this period.

1927
Ford Oval Badge

The new Model A was the first Ford vehicle to carry the Ford oval as a radiator badge. With the familiar deep royal blue background that we know today, the logo was used on many cars until the end of the 1950s.

The blue oval then disappeared from the various bonnets and grilles of cars until the mid-1970s, with just the word ‘Ford’ appearing instead. Although the Ford oval badge was still used consistently on company communications, during this period.

The Blue Oval Today

Since 1976, the blue and silver Ford oval has been used as an identification badge on all Ford vehicles, providing an easily recognisable and consistent brand for all the company's plants, facilities and products around the world.

The Blue Oval Today

Since 1976, the blue and silver Ford oval has been used as an identification badge on all Ford vehicles, providing an easily recognisable and consistent brand for all the company's plants, facilities and products around the world.

The Blue Oval Today