(Admiring Blog / Wayne Riley / 9-17-2017)

Today’s  cars are sophisticated, comfortable, fun to drive and far advanced from  the cars of yesteryear. But one of the early cars was so significant  that in reality it actually changed the lives of many millions in this  country and around the world – Henry Ford’s Model T. Here’s a quick look  at how Ford developed, built and sold 15 million Model Ts from 1908 to  1927:  

Roads  in America, when they existed, were rough, many unpaved and navigable mostly by the adventurous.  Automobiles were cantankerous, high maintenance and very  expensive, largely out of reach to all but a few. Henry  Ford, after failing with one company, envisioned another company  producing a simple, inexpensive car that would go anywhere and that many  could afford. The car Ford and his engineers and manufacturing pioneers  came up with was the Model T.

The  technologically advanced Model T was tough as nails, super simple and  super cheap. The engine was cast with cylinders in the block and a  removable cylinder head -- a daring innovation -- rather than the  “normal” one-piece block and cylinder head. The vehicle used newly  developed high tensile strength vanadium steel alloy in critical highly  stressed parts, and sold at first for $825 with the price steadily  declining to $260 in 1924 so “anybody can afford this car." 

Price was kept low and simplicity guaranteed by ignoring anything not absolutely needed to operate the car. 

  • Starter?  We have a hand crank, don’t need a starter. Temperature? The steam  squirting out of the radiator shows it’s overheating. Fuel gauge? Dip a  stick into the gas tank. Speedometer? No, just watch where you’re  going. 
  • With a magneto attached to the flywheel powering ignition, no battery was needed or installed. 
  • The  high ground clearance, lightweight Model T would go almost anywhere.  Roads? The T would just drive over ruts and many obstacles in its path.  The T used a suspension system with the engine/transmission unit and  rear drive axle mounted in a triangular fashion using front and rear  transverse leaf springs. 
  • The  three-point arrangement and transverse spring mounting gave the T’s  front axle, rear axle and body the incredible ability to each go in  different directions at the same time while the vehicle kept on going. The  result was a generally reliable, easy to maintain car that would go  just about anywhere -- but still leave money in the bank account.
  • In its day, the tough  simple and ultimately incredibly cheap little  Tin Lizzie sold millions of vehicles all over the globe -- and literally  put the world on wheels!