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The Model T

photographs Image of the Model T
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You can paint it any color, so long as it's black

It has never been proven that Henry Ford ever said, "You can paint it any color...," but the phrase has survived for 3/4 of a century and does indicate something about America's beloved Model T: its "steadfastness," its enduring and endearing "sameness." The first production Model T Ford was assembled at the Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit on October 1, 1908. Over the next 19 years, Ford would build 15,000,000 automobiles with the Model "T" engine, the longest run of any single model apart from the Volkswagen Beetle. From 1908-1927, the Model T would endure with little change in its design. Henry Ford had succeeded in his quest to build a car for the masses.

Henry Ford with the Model T
Henry Ford with his Model T. Photo: P.O.3015.A

Model T in field
A lone Model T rumbles
through a farm field, ca. 1912.
Photo: P.O.1088.A

With the development of the sturdy, low-priced Model T in 1908, Henry Ford made his company the biggest in the industry. By 1914, the moving assembly line enabled Ford to produce far more cars than any other company. The Model T and mass production made Ford an international celebrity.

Because of the amazing run of this model, we decided not to focus on just one year of the "T." Instead, the selected materials will follow the automobile through its entire production.

About our Car: (Pictured at top) This 1914 Touring Car is one of several Model T Fords given to naturalist John Burroughs by his friend, Henry Ford, in an ultimately successful attempt to convince Burroughs that cars aided, rather than hindered, the study of nature.

car of the century icon The Model T was named
Car of the Century!
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