Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Ford Motor Company

The Ford Motor Company was officially incorporated in 1903, when founder Henry Ford launched his company in a converted factory on Mack Avenue in Detroit. At the time, the company could only produce a few cars a day.

The Ford Motor Company had its big breakthrough in 1908 with the introduction of the Model T or “Tin Lizzie.” The Model T embodied what Henry Ford wanted out of a car: efficiency, reliability, and reasonable prices. Due to high demand for the vehicle, Ford Motor Company moved into a factory in Highland Park, Michigan. It is here that Ford revolutionized the automobile industry by setting up his first assembly line production model. Individual workers stayed in one place and performed the same task on vehicles that passed in front of them on a conveyor belt. It was this implementation that revolutionized business and gave Ford and edge over its competitors. 

In 1914, Ford once again revolutionized manufacturing by offering a $5/day wage to its factory employees. This vaulted many low-skilled workers into the middle class, allowing them to finally afford the products that they made, and employee turnover plunged dramatically.During the 1920s, the Ford Motor Company purchased the Lincoln Motor Company and moved much of its production operations to the Ford Rouge Complex in Dearborn. By the end of the decade, the company was producing 1.5 million cars annually.The Ford Motor Company played a pivotal role in the Allied campaign during World War II. Using the same mass production techniques that had revolutionized the auto industry, Ford began churning out B-24 Liberators at the rate of one per hour or approximately 600 every month.

The 1950s and 1960s saw the introduction of some of Ford’s most iconic vehicles, including the Mustang and the Thunderbird. This period also saw the introduction and ultimate demise of the Edsel, a luxury car that never caught on with the public.Throughout the next several decades, Ford Motor Company continued to expand its operations, opening up operations in Asia, founding the Ford Motor Credit Company and acquiring other brands, including Mazda and Land Rover. 

Today, Ford remains one of the largest family-controlled companies in the world and is one of the largest automakers in the world.



Ford Motors billboard, 1940

Ford Motor Company Administration Building, 1996

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