Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ford Model T

Hello, everybody!

Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about cars, even though I am far from being an expert on this topic. I'm preparing for my presentation on July 30 here in the Key Room as part of our Summer Enchanted Evenings. In case you don't know, we have different people come and speak about various topics here at the Baldpate every Wednesday night at 7:00 pm. We would love for you join us every week for an hour of entertainment! Anyway, I will be giving a presentation at the end of July about some of our keys and photos that relate to Hollywood. One of the movies that I'm going to talk about in my presentation is American Graffiti. This movie features some of the best music and coolest cars from the 1960s and earlier. One of the cars used in the movie is the Ford Thunderbird, a beautiful car driven by a beautiful girl. The movie features other Ford vehicles as well. Our photo collection here at the Baldpate includes a photo of the man who started it all, Henry Ford. Not only is Ford part of our photo collection, but I discovered today that we have two keys from Model Ts in our key collection.

We have a fun option in the Key Room for visitors to complete a scavenger hunt, and one of the Model T keys is included in the scavenger hunt. This key can be found in the Michigan section of keys on our ceiling, and the other Model T key can be found in the Kansas section. We can identify the keys as keys to Model Ts because of their wavy blades and diamond shaped handles. The numbers on the keys are 52 and 74, and these numbered keys were used between the years 1919 and 1927. For example, the key with the number 52 on it would have been used for any Ford with a number 52 lock. Interestingly, one of the keys has the Ford logo on it while the other key does not.

I want to talk now a little bit about Henry Ford and the Model T. Henry Ford was always interested in making vehicles and was willing to take any risk to start his own company. His first two companies failed, but his third automotive company, Ford Motor Company, was a success. He was able to hire a group of capable men who believed in his vision. The company's first vehicle, the Model A, was followed by improved models. In 1907, Ford's Model N became the best selling car in the country, but Henry Ford was dreaming of a car that was better and more affordable. He came up with the Model T, which was introduced in 1908.

The Model T was easy to operate, maintain, and handle on rough roads. The car was very successful, and Ford was able to sell every one that he made. He wanted to be able to make enough cars for everyone who wanted to buy one, which was the inspiration for the assembly line. The company moved to a huge plant in Michigan in 1910, and the Ford team borrowed ideas from watch makers, gun makers, bicycle makers, and meat packers in an attempt to create a way to increase production. By late 1913, the team had developed the moving assemply line. Employees were not pleased, though, with the repetitive work, and the company had to hire 53,000 people a year to keep 14,000 jobs filled. Henry Ford solved this problem by doubling his employees' wages. The price of the Model T dropped, and sales rose steadily. By 1922, half of the cars in America were Model Ts.

I hope you found this interesting, and I hope you can come in July to my presentation about Hollywood keys. If you have more information about Henry Ford or the Model T that I should know about, please leave a comment.

Have a great day!

Key Room Museum Curator