Photos from Wayne Ferens' collection
Even when Henry Ford produced the first Ford Model T on Sept. 27, 1908, Ford assembled cars like every other manufacturer - one at a time. Starting with the 1903 Model A at the Mack Avenue facility in Detroit, MI, then adding seven additional models to the Ford brand after moving to the Piquette Ave. Plant in Detroit in 1904, all were hand built.
Ford produced nearly 12,000 Model Ts there before production moved to the new Highland Park plant. All the models manufactured up until that time were produced in the hundreds, and some of the more popular models in the thousands, but when demand for the Model T started to grow the numbers really increased.
Over 15 million Model Ts were manufactured, a record that stood for a half century. Ford tried to acknowledge these "million car" milestones, but at the rate Fords were selling a few were missed along the way. Over 20 million cars were manufactured before the 1932 models were even introduced: 1915; 1 millionth, 1921: 5 millionth, 1924; 10 millionth, 1927: 15 millionth, 1931: 20 millionth, 1937: 25 millionth, 1940: 28 millionth car, 1945: 31 millionth (truck). Ford Motor Company celebrated the production of its 350 millionth vehicle at Ford Thailand Manufacturing on August 31, 2012.
No one paid much attention when the 1 millionth Ford, a Model T, rolled off the assembly line on Dec. 10, 1915.
Photo is of a 1915 Model T Touring car....not the one millionth
This Ford coupe with engine number 5,000,000 rolled off the production line on May 28, 1921 and was presented to Edsel Ford as the company's latest Milestone Car. The car is on display at the Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Neb.
The 10 millionth Ford was produced on June 4, 1924, at the Highland Park plant and spent most of that year promoting Ford's success while driving back and forth across the United States from New York to San Francisco on the Lincoln Highway. The car is privately owned by Dr. Alan Hathaway in Iowa.
The 15 millionth Ford automobile rolled of the Highland Park assembly line on May 26, 1927 and was used promoting Ford's success and pride for putting America and the rest of the world on wheels. This milestone Model T is mostly original and is part of the collection at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI.
The 1931 Model A had its serial number stamped by Henry Ford himself on the engine block before driving it off the Rouge assembly line with Edsel in the passenger seat. Ford used the car for promotional tours and display until being sold by the Henry Ford Museum to the Liimatainen family in Michigan's Upper Peninsula for $550 in 1940. It is still owned by Rod Liimatainen.
On January 18, 1937 the 25 millionth Ford rolled off the Rouge Plant assembly line. The Ford Deluxe V8 "Humpback" Sedan was used in a number of ads to promote the quality and value of it's automobiles. Photo shows Henry and Edsel Ford with the first Ford built - Henry's 1896 Quadricycle.
This rare photo shows a Ford pickup truck that was built on May 3, 1945. Milestone vehicles were typically passenger cars, but Ford was forced to recognize a pickup as its 31 millionth because the company still wasn't building passenger cars in May 1945. Because it was made during the war it had white-painted trim and a spare wheel without a tire.
The first postwar Ford car was produced on July.3, 1945. It was a white Super Deluxe Tudor sedan and was given to President Harry S. Truman.
Before Henry Ford passed away in April 1947 more than 31 million vehicles were produced by the Ford Motor Company - even without auto production during the war years.
Wayne Ferens is retired after a 45 year career in the automobile business that included General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Honda Motor Co. and new car dealer. Auto history is one of his passions and has written much about the industry. He is presently a SAE Board Member.