A key part of Ford Motor Company’s heritage returns home as a Model A built in 1903 is again with the Ford family, kicking off the yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of company founder Henry Ford, as well the Ford Motor Company will celebrate 110 years in 2013 as a company.
Considered the oldest surviving Ford vehicle, the 1903 Model A was unveiled today to Ford Motor Company employees by Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who purchased the vehicle at an auction in October.
“The timing was perfect to bring this key part of Ford heritage back to the family as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of my great-grandfather’s birth and his vision to improve people’s lives by making cars affordable for the average family,” said Bill Ford. “His vision to build cars that are reasonably priced, reliable and efficient still resonates and defines our vision today as well.”
MotorCities National Heritage Area and the Henry Ford Heritage Association teamed up with more than 30 Henry Ford-related collaborators to coordinate the yearlong celebration of events. These activities, highlighting Ford’s legacy, contributions and influence, include tours, educational programming, dramatic re-enactments, lectures, integration and special events at auto shows and more.
A dedicated website, www.henryford150.com, also is launching today that includes an interactive timeline of Ford’s life, tours, a calendar of 2013 events and information about efforts to preserve Henry Ford’s heritage.
Henry Ford’s 150th legacy will be celebrated in 2013, leading up to the 150th birthday of Henry Ford on July 30, 2013. Some of these include:
Coming Together: A Celebration of Henry Ford
July 27, 2013, The Henry Ford Estate Fair Lane, Dearborn, Mich. This free community event will bring Henry Ford to “life” and feature many of his little-known interests and contributions.
July 27-28, The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Mich. A two-day, family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. This year’s celebration of the Maker movement will include a special program to recognize innovators.
Discovering Henry Ford shows at The Henry Ford
April-December. A presenter-facilitated multimedia program using a large touch screen monitor to access digital assets (movies, photos) in themed 20-minute shows (Henry Ford the Tinkerer, Henry Ford and the Model T).
Dramatic presentation at Greenfield Village– May-August. Visitors will meet Henry Ford in this interactive 15-minute play and hear how he was inspired to build the world’s universal car. Guests also will find out why the Model T was so revolutionary and how Henry Ford’s visionary thinking and hard work enabled him to put the world on wheels.
The role of the Model A
The Model A returning home played a pivotal role in Ford Motor Company history.
The car revealed today is a red 1903 Model A Rear Entry Tonneau. It is believed to be car No. 3, chassis No. 30, and the lone survivor of the group of three Model A cars sold on July 13, 1903. The vehicle was auctioned through RM Auctions in October in Hershey, Pa.
It’s no coincidence that a car named the Model A started the road to success for Ford Motor Company in 1903.
Though that road – mirroring those of the time – was anything but smooth.
Henry Ford founded Ford Motor Company on June 16, 1903. One month later, his cash reserves were less than $250.
In short, the company needed a doctor. Interestingly enough, Dr. E. Pfennig of Chicago was one of three customers who came to the rescue.
A much-needed cash infusion of $1,320 arrived on July 13, 1903, keeping Ford Motor Company afloat. This amount included Dr. Pfennig’s full payment and deposits from the two other customers.
Dr. Pfennig’s Model A was shipped to him on July 28, 1903, from the plant on Mack Avenue. The 1903 Ford Model A had a two-cylinder engine producing 8 horsepower and displacing 100 cubic inches. It could reach 30 mph on smooth roads, which were rare.
By contrast, the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 has an eight-cylinder engine displacing 355 cubic inches and can attain a top speed of more than 200 mph.
Only one of the three Model A cars sold on July 13, 1903, remains. Executive Chairman Bill Ford recently purchased it at auction. The announcement of the purchase and its return to the Ford family kicked off the yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henry Ford.
Car No. 3 and chassis No. 30
Bill Ford’s 1903 Model A is a red Rear Entry Tonneau, car No. 3 and chassis No. 30. Prior to him acquiring it, the vehicle had only five previous owners in its 109-year existence. The car was bought initially by Herbert L. McNary, a butter maker from Britt, Iowa. Records show that McNary put down a $170 deposit on the $850 car.
Harry E. Burd, a collector, was the next owner. His research led him to believe this example was car No. 3 and chassis No. 30. He sold it in 1961 to a Swiss Ford dealer, who displayed the Model A in Cologne, Germany, at Ford’s European Center.
Burd then bought back the Model A in 2001. It was purchased by John O’Quinn in 2007, who was the final owner before Bill Ford.
The 1903 Model A sits on a wheelbase of 72 inches and weighs about 1,250 pounds. About 1,700 were produced over 15 months. It was praised in the August 1903 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal, which reported the following:
When in motion there is a light purring of the gear to be heard if one listens for it; there is absolutely no vibration to be felt; the riding is perfectly smooth and agreeable.
The wagon is, of course, under entire control, and is extremely handy in a crowded street, and, taken all in all, this latest of American wagons offered leaves very little indeed to be desired.
There will undoubtedly be advances in the art, but there will never be any wagon much more comfortable for its passengers than the Ford, and the machine work is excellent, everything being finished and secured in a workmanlike manner.
The Ford Company finishes the bodies itself, and the external appearance is extremely good.
In conclusion, “The Model A helped keep our company going during a difficult time and enabled my great-grandfather to continue pursuing his vision of putting the world on wheels,” said Bill Ford. “We look forward to carrying that same spirit of innovation forward as we develop new technologies for safer, cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles.”
Ford Motor Company