Henry Ford Sets Speed Record
On June 16, 1903, Ford incorporated a new company: the Ford Motor Company. In January of the following year, Ford set his record at Lake St. Clair, racing 1 mile in 39.4 seconds for a record speed of 91.37 mph. For the next several years, Ford continued to build race cars that met with varying degrees of success. In 1908, Ford launched a car for the masses, the Model T, which revolutionized the automotive industry–and American society in general–by providing affordable, reliable transportation for the average person. To promote the Model T, Ford entered it in races. In 1909, the Model T won a New York-to-Seattle race and although it was later disqualified due to a technicality, the event provided great advertising for Ford. Over the next few years, the Model T won a variety of races around the U.S. In 1913, Ford, who was reportedly unhappy with certain rules of auto racing, quit the sport. (Now that his company was a success, he didn’t require the publicity from racing anyway.)
In 1913, Ford Motor Company began employing the moving assembly line at its plant in Highland Park, Michigan, which reduced the assembly speed of a chassis from 12 hours and eight minutes to one hour and 33 minutes. The following year, Ford produced over 308,000 vehicles, more than the output of all other carmakers combined. The Model T, which was in production until 1927, became the world’s top-selling vehicle until the Volkswagen Beetle surpassed it in 1972. Henry Ford died at the age of 83 on April 7, 1947.