What Colors Does the Model T Come In?

ford factoryToday in 1903 the Ford Motor Company was founded. At the time of its inception, the company was one of dozens of small automobile manufacturing firms in the United States.
In 1908, Ford introduced his famous Model T. It was a simple lightweight vehicle that was also sturdy enough to navigate bumpy roads. This ability to handle rough terrain was one of the reasons the car was so immensely popular. At the turn of the century, the nation barely maintained its roads and many contemporary vehicles were unable to handle them.
Most famously, Ford introduced the assembly line to his factory in 1913. While he did not invent the assembly line, Ford used it more powerfully than anyone before him. Rather than one employee using skill to complete their part of the assembly, each employee completed one small task over and over again.  Car frames were brought to the workers on a continuously moving conveyor built. Ford also saved money by making each car identical and avoiding customizing the cars. Therefore each Model T was available in one style and one color, black. (GM would be able to compete with the less expansive Fords by offering its customers the ability to choose paint colors and styles). This saved Ford both time and money, literally cutting the time it took to build a Model T in half, enabling more cars to be built.
Ford also paid his employees extremely well for the era. Each employee received $5 a day, which was more than double the pay of the average American industrial worker. Ford believed that if his employees had money to spend in their pocket they would contribute to the national economy, keeping the U.S. prosperous. Of as much importance, Ford also realized that if he paid his employees well they would be able to purchase a Model T of their own, priced at $316 each in 1916. Due to the good pay, Ford attracted a steady stream of skilled laborers.
Ford needed this stead stream of laborers. Despite their high wages, Ford employees were unhappy with the repetitive tasks and adhering to strict rules. Fearful of unions starting in his factories, Ford also used spies and armed detectives to watch his employees.
Due to his use of the assembly line, resulting in affordable cars, the Ford Motor Company contributed greatly to an American economy based on mass production and mass consumption. This system paid tribute to the company, becoming known as Fordism.

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About Meg G.

I am a PhD candidate studying US History. I am interested in gender, children, and religious history in the 19th-century US. I love running. I have a pretty cool husband and family. View all posts by Meg G.

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