July 23, 2024

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The Automobile Man

The Automobile Man

On July 30, 1863, while the United States seemed to be falling apart due to the Civil War, a baby boy was born in Dearborn, Michigan, who would one day change the world in a good way. That little boy was Henry Ford, the son of William and Mary, who would one day be known for his automobiles and his clever way of assembling them.

Henry was the oldest of six children. He went to middle school in Springwells, which is about three miles away from his home, and only attended high school until he was fifteen. He did not follow in his father’s footsteps, but left farm life to pursue a career in engineering and machinery.

In 1896, Henry worked as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company. Much like his boss, Thomas Edison, Ford used his spare time to do some inventing of his own. It was at this time he made his first attempt to make a gasoline-powered automobile called the Quadricycle. It was a carriage with four bicycle wheels, turned with the help of an engine rather than by horse. Ford wanted everyone to have the option to purchase affordable automobiles for their family, not just the rich and famous. Ford’s plan was to sell the Quadricycle for two hundred dollars so he could continue making more types of transportation for people with the profit he made. He was constantly trying to improve his design.

Success did not come easily for Ford. Henry had to make things over and change things several times to get it right. The Quadricycle was not perfect at all. He was only able to build three over a period of five years. But it got Ford started and people were slowly starting to recognize his name.

In the 1900s Ford was most known for the Model T. When they were first being made it would take twelve or more hours to assemble one automobile. Then Ford had a great idea that would change the automobile industry and manufacturing around the world. It was called the assembly line. The frame of the automobile would run down the factory floor on a conveyor belt, and as it moved workers would add parts to the frame. Using this method, a new automobile could roll out the factory door in under two hours, making production much faster, more efficient, and would cost less money.

In 1917 Ford came out with the first truck that would be part of the F-series. The truck bed would be an optional attachment to the Model T. Ford got the idea from the World War I trucks used for delivering supplies to camps. The extension could be used for farming and projects around the house such as moving wood for the fire and bringing food home from the store in town.

Ford went through many hard times, especially during the Great Depression. His company went through a bankruptcy, losing more than forty million dollars in regular expenses alone. He cut costs by stopping most of the advertising for his cars and by 1933, when the Depression was over, about three million dollars in potential sales had been lost. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”