The Model T: A Centennial History by Robert Casey (Johns Hopkins University Press) — Debuting in 1908 as the first mass-produced and truly affordable car, the Ford Model T quickly revolutionized automotive design, engineering, manufacturing and sales, and American society as a whole. Complete with historic photographs and color advertisements, many from the Benson Ford Research Center in Dearborn, Casey details the story and technological innovations of this great American icon.
â€œI will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and take care of. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own oneâ€”and enjoy with his family the blessings of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.â€â€”Henry Ford First rolled out in 1908 with an $850 price tag, the Model T Ford was the nation’s first mass-produced, affordable, and versatile vehicle. It made Americans mobile as never before, spurred a revolution in manufacturing methods, and marked a sea change in automotive design and engineering. Just in time for the centennial celebration of the Model T, Robert Casey captures the remarkable story of that car’s history and development and of its long-lasting impact on America. Here are the people who built the Model T and how, the folks who purchased it and why, and the profound technological leaps in mass production and mass consumption that we rightly associate with the Model T. Casey discusses how the car was designed, built, sold, and driven, as well as how owners tinkered with it. He describes the experience of driving a Model T and explains how a few engineering innovationsâ€”a one-piece cylinder block with detachable cylinder head, a clever flexible suspension system, the use of lightweight vanadium alloy steelâ€”led to the car’s reliability and popularity and spurred innovations across the motor vehicle industry. Richly illustrated with archival photos from The Henry Fordâ€”many never before publishedâ€”The Model T is the definitive history of an iconographic piece of American technology.
Robert Casey is the curator of transportation at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. They have a really cool online Model T exhibit with resources for teachers to bring into their classrooms. Jack Lessenberry interviews the author and you can listen to it on Jack’s blog – Jack Lessenberry’s Essays and Interviews. Also be sure to check out the following articles that appeared in the New York Times, the L.A. Times and on MotorCities National Heritage Area.
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