Model T Turns 100, Reflecting Ford's Legacy of Bringing Technology to the Masses

- The Ford Model T debuted on Oct. 1, 1908, and thanks to Henry Ford's vision, put the world on wheels. More than 15 million units of this car were built and sold in the 19 years Ford produced Model T. Production ended on May 26, 1927.

LOS ANGELES, April 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- A century after the Model T put the world on wheels, Ford (NYSE: F) continues building on its tradition with industry-leading, high-volume technologies including SYNC and EcoBoost engines, a new fuel-efficient powertrain lineup, a new small car for the world as well as America's most head-turning crossover and most-capable pickup.

"Henry Ford's Model T was simple, affordable and reliable. It changed the way we live, work and play, providing mobility and prosperity on an undreamed-of scale," said Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company president and CEO.

"Today, a century of innovation later, Ford continues in the same tradition of the Model T, delivering high-quality, smart, safe and sustainable vehicles at a value," he said.

Ford will recognize this historic milestone during the next six months through a series of regional celebrations joined by thousands of Model T owners and global enthusiasts. This includes today's Fabulous Fords Forever show in Buena Park, Calif., as well as the world's largest gathering of Model Ts since they left the factory -- at "T Party 2008" in Richmond, Ind., planned for July 21-26.

Ford, with support from the Ford Motor Company Fund, is the "T Party 2008" celebration's title sponsor for the week-long event that is hosted by the Model T Ford Club of America. Nearly 1,000 Model Ts, including vehicles from England, Norway, Australia and New Zealand and more than 10,000 Model T owners and enthusiasts are expected to participate.

"Celebrating a hundred years of the Model T is a great milestone for Ford Motor Company," said Edsel Ford, great-grandson of Henry Ford and member of the Board of Directors at Ford Motor Company. "No other vehicle has put its mark on the industry or world like the Model T, and true to my great-grandfather's vision, it was the simple, durable car that millions could afford and that many still treasure today."

Putting the World on Wheels -- Then and Now

The Model T chugged into history Oct. 1, 1908. Henry Ford called it the "universal car." It became the symbol of low-cost, reliable transportation that could get through when other vehicles and horse-drawn wagons were stuck in muddy roads. The Model T won the approval of millions of Americans, who affectionately dubbed it "Tin Lizzie."

The first Model Ts sold for $825 (for a two-door roadster) -- an unexpected bargain compared to other cars. But even more remarkable is that during its 19 years of production, Ford continued to steadily lower its price, thanks to manufacturing efficiencies including the moving assembly line introduced in 1913.

In addition to its affordability, Model T truly stands out as the industry's first global car. By 1921, it accounted for almost 57 percent of the world's automobile production.

Today, Ford is launching an important new small car -- the Fiesta -- around the world. Designed and developed in Europe for customers in Europe, Asia, South Africa, Australia and the Americas, Fiesta will come to market around the world between 2008 and 2010.

The new Fiesta is the first major product of Ford's new global product development process and represents an important opportunity for Ford to show customers that it intends to be a large player in the growing small car segment worldwide.

"In the same way the Model T opened up the world for so many, the new Ford Fiesta will set a new standard for value in the same spirit as Henry Ford's Model T," said Mulally. "With a growing demand around the world for safe and fuel-efficient transportation, Ford is once again delivering a high quality, durable car for us all."

Ford also is expanding its leadership in crossovers with an unconventional approach -- the Ford Flex. Its contemporary design provokes strong opinions. Its new technologies are smart and engaging. All in all, Ford Flex is like no other vehicle on the road today, changing the game much like the Model T did in 1908.

Ford has good powertrain news on the way, as well. EcoBoost engine technology, which features turbocharging and direct injection, will be available on 500,000 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles annually in North America within the next five years. These engines make a range of vehicles -- from small cars to full-size pickups -- fun to drive and deliver up to 20 percent better fuel economy and up to 15 percent improved emissions.

EcoBoost -- combined with multi-speed transmissions, advanced electric power steering, weight reductions and aerodynamic improvements -- is part of Ford Motor Company's strategy to deliver sustainable, quality vehicles that customers want and value.

The high-volume engines begin rolling out in 2009 on products including Ford Flex and Lincoln MKS, keeping alive a heritage of powertrain innovation that dates back to Model T. Tin Lizzie's original engines boasted 20 hp, with a top speed of 40-45 mph. The front-mounted, 2.9-liter, four-cylinder, flex-fuel engine was the first single block motor with removable cylinder, and remains the basis for most of today's modern engines.

"When it comes to features, Model T bares little resemblance to today's Ford lineup," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "Only a few basic amenities -- such as a horn -- came standard on the Model T, while today we have industry-leading technology like SYNC, which integrates Bluetooth devices into your daily drive, and SIRIUS TravelLink, which can tell you where to find the cheapest gas or best restaurant on your journey."

The award-winning Ford SYNC system -- developed with Microsoft -- connects people and their portable devices in the vehicle, including media players and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. SYNC is offered exclusively on nearly every new Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicle and it's on track to reach 1 million sales in early 2009.

Millions of customers already have enjoyed the capability that comes standard on Ford vehicles, including F-150, which is new for 2009 and offers the most capability, choice and smart features in the light-duty pickup segment.

From the new 2009 F-150 to the F-450 Super Duty pickup, Ford offers the widest array of full-size pickups with the most capability. Plus, Ford has more trucks on the road with 250,000 miles or more than any other manufacturer.

They come by it honestly. From the beginning, the Model T provided the most robust underpinnings for commercial vehicles and delivered maximum utility at a value. The Model T car chassis was simple, strong and lightweight with a unique three-point suspension that isolated the frame and powertrain from road shock that would cause other less sophisticated chassis designs to flex under heavy loads.

In 1914, Henry Ford began producing a commercial chassis that was literally a Model T devoid of any bodywork except the cowl, engine cover, radiator, front fenders and headlamps. Customers picked up the Model T chassis and took it to the independent bodyworks of their choice -- much like today's F-Series and E-Series commercial chassis cabs.

By 1925, Ford was producing its first factory produced domestic pickup truck -- the Ford Model T Runabout -- with a pickup body. Ford also offered a the heavier duty, one-ton rated Model TT pickup -- akin to today's F-Series Super Duty.

"The spirit that was born from the Model T is very much alive today in everything that we do at Ford," said Fields. "Because of that spirit, Ford continues to deliver high-quality, affordable products and technologies for the masses."

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