Henry Ford [1863-1947]: Down to a “T”

Henry Ford [1863-1947]: Down to a “T”

“I want to build a motorcar for the great multitude, it will be large enough for the family, small enough for the individual to run and care for.

It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired after the simplest design and modern engineering can devise, but it will also be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one………..great open spaces”

Henry Ford 1907

“Unless you can see a thing, you cannot simplify it; and unless you can simplify it, it’s a good sign you cannot make it”

The most beautiful thing in the world “Ford said a quarter of a century later “are those forms which all excess weight has been eliminated”

“I refuse to recognise the impossible”

Henry Ford

“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them “

Henry Ford:-


The Ford story is extremely important in our understanding of Chapman and Lotus.

In this article we shall examine in some depth its origins and in particular the T from which later small capacity Ford side valve engines derived. We shall look primarily at Henry Ford’s life during which he established Ford in Britain and from which Chapman and Lotus would benefit.

Ford in Britain with Chapman provided:-

  • Engines for his early cars notably the Mk.VI and Seven and the twin cam for the Elan. In addition and more specialised the Ford V8 with Lotus won at Indianapolis delivering one of Fords primary objects in Total Performance
  • Collaboration with Ford resulted in the Ford Lotus Cortina and with Chapman acting as catalyst / facilitator the Cosworth DFV and other derived engines used in both Lotus production cars notably Seven and F2, Junior and 3 etc.

On December 19th 1999, the Ford Model T was named “Car of the Century” by the Century International Jury.

“The Model T has two stories .The obvious one is that it was a sound, utilitarian device that motorised the USA. It was free from many of the quirks of other early cars , was thoughtfully engineered , and from time to time , was relatively easy to drive thanks to a semiautomatic epicyclical transmission ………….the model T has equally great significance as a symbol and advertisement for production line techniques ”

Henry Ford is considered to have put the world on wheels. His significance has to be measured across many disciplines and these interrelate and overlap. They include:-

  • Car manufacture
  • Impact on society
  • Gender implications
  • Car ownership/use
  • Business strategy
  • Industrial strategy
  • Location of industry
  • Corporate management
  • Contribution to Lotus , F1, motor sport and Cosworth
  • Iconic model types

All of which provide educational opportunities and many academic subjects beyond engineering; notably economic geography.

Henry Ford like Chapman was complex man with some obvious ironies in his character. We will attempt to study these briefly.

The story of Ford is complex and we ask subscribers to stay with us in our attempt to provide breadth and depth. Henry Ford like Chapman has had his detractors and it’s important to try and avoid over simplifications and stereotypes. Attempting to explain the evolution although essentially chronological can miss the extreme importance of the homogeneity of the product specification, the market, retail price and the realisation of all these through extreme economy of complex mass production techniques.

Here we attempt to jig the emphasis towards the guts of the means of meeting market demands.Becasuse of the overlapping nature of the subject and focus there is a little repetition, but we hope this supports clarity and emphasis towards the delivery objectives Ford made.

Henry Ford like Chapman and Carnegie used the skills of collaborators to an extent not always credited. This use has a beneficial and creative purpose and can enable better products to reach the market and satisfy customers than otherwise might.

We approach the subject from a perspective of motivation and purpose, not merely the technical aspect of the T. We consider this a better manner to analyse and evaluate the greater achievement of Ford and indeed Chapman.

Subscribers might like to see the directly relevant and integrated A&R pieces that complement and help structure this article:-

  • Ford Lotus Cortina
  • Ford engine types including SV,pre-cross flow and cross flow
  • Lotus 30
  • Cosworth and DFV engines
  • Indianapolis
  • Ford GT40
  • Lotus Design Decades
  • Lotus MK VI,and forensic technical analysis of Ford components adapted
  • 1172 Race Series
  • Aquaplane & Ford Specials
  • Lotus Mk.III and Austin Seven Specials
  • Motoring Icons of 20th Century

Context and background

“The automobile would descend not from the horse and wagon but from the bicycle, the supple mechanically sophisticated and above all light”

This is an important observation although it has to be acknowledged [ and we will develop the idea ] that the Model T provided massive advantage over the horse and cart that predominated in rural America and the turn of the century [ see comparative costs below –wages income running costs etc.]

By the time that Henry Ford introduced the T America was already conducting forms of mass production in various industries [see below]

Rural background

Henry Ford was born into a farming family and community. He possibly early on grasped some of the drudgery, seasonal aspects, dependency on weather low productivity and the relative complications of horsepower to sustain life. Having experienced these first hand might have attempted to bring about improvements to productivity, hence to income, quality of life etc.

We can only guess if he also factored in the car would increase mobility freedom, ability to travel, widen horizons and contribute to leisure and wider cultural interactions.

Natural Mechanic

Henry Ford’s mother thought of her son as a natural mechanic. We believe this is true. Although Henry was also an engineer, this was not theoretical or academic .His practicality and functionality was a strength but as we might deduct in certain areas it might have limited his conceptualisation and liberal approach to culture and people.

Chalkboard and Patents

Ford benefited from the chalkboard for scheming ideas and parts [see quotation above].

He fought a patent fight regarding the concept of the car in America and won.

It’s believed the company held other patents.

Weight and high grade materials

Henry Ford was committed to a light weight construction and used high grade materials to contribute to this. These include vanadium steel.

The early T’s are estimated to have weighed 1100 –1,200 lb.

Study and Reading

In 1884 he attended business school.As stated he was not academically minded but a school he might have acquired entrepreneurial vision and learnt of other mass production techniques present in the USA and perhaps read European papers / magazines and engineering assessments of the automobile.

Imagination, Inspiration, motivation

Henry Ford was a man who possessed the courage of his convictions and held remarkable foresight. Although he only had a humble start in life.

He tapped into the pioneering spirit of America post the Civil War.

“He never forgot his farm boy roots and wanted to produce a car of extreme practicality, the flexible well sprung model T was at home on the unmade rural roads that covered America at the time”

Henry Ford has been credited with remarking American culture

“The greatest demand today is for an inexpensive car with sufficiently powerful motor , manufactured from the best materials ……….it must be strong enough for American roads and capable of driving wherever horse drawn carriages are able to pass without the driver having fear for his car ”

Perhaps Henry Ford ought to be credited with a homogeneity of conceptual thinking and execution:-

  1. The evidence suggests he conceived the T for the mass market essentially the farmer , small holder and rural community living in isolated locations and dependent on the horse and cart
  2. His specification for the T precisely addressed this audience : it was a totality of concept , designed for mass production and to a specification exactly tailored to the American customers’ requirements
  3. This marriage of practical engineering and customer focus/ profiling mated to entrepreneurial skill made Henry very special

The Model T was not only cheap it was also user friendly into which Ford incorporated:-

  • Rugged suspension and springs
  • High ground clearance
  • Passengers could be carried in comfort
  • Use on rough and unmade roads
  • Metal under tray to protect moving parts
  • Easy to service
  • Adaptable
  • Offered exceptional value for money

The T in some respects seems crude but this conceals the fact the car was dictated by assembly economies and the avoidance of bottlenecks in production.

The T was the manifestation of a design determined by integration, flow and logistics.

The engine for example had very few parts. It was easy to assemble. However as in other aspects this concealed the advanced technology required to support the primary objective.

Likewise the gearbox clutch mechanism were intended for a mass market and ease of driving by wide base ownership /skill level [see Appendix below]

It’s believed that Henry Ford had aspirations for his car to be launched into an international market.

The T had high ground clearance for obvious reasons, it was light at c 1,200lb .It was given a high strength, alloy steel chassis. It was offered with adaptable body work including car and truck.

The T “little self-conscious aesthetic, effort was expended on its design; the car is dramatic, graceful and pure example of what a wheeled machine should look like”

The editors suggest that in some respects the T possessed the functionality of the Jeep.

In summary it was the epitome of:-

  • Tough, simple
  • Strictly utilitarian
  • 20-22hp on compression ratio of 4.5:1 at 1,600 rpm 4 cylinder ,”L” head, 1,200lb approximate weight [touring spec.], 2 speed planetary gears, rigid axle , transverse leaf spring
  • Wheelbase 100 inches, Overall length 134.5 inch
  • Cheap
  • Adaptable
  • Possessed functionality of interchangeable parts

Racing and Publicity

Although Ford not particularly identified and only spasmodically with racing until Total Performance in 1960’s Henry produced two race based cars around turn of the century. He also won a race in 1901

The more famous of the two known as “999” [capable of 90mph?] and Arrow.

The cars were massive one being 8.8 L and 2 cylinder the other 19L and 4 cylinder.

It’s worth looking at American competition in this era which included fairgrounds, dirt, board and limited duration races.

Ford later flirted with racing see V8 below; Indy car.

Business, Mass production, assembly, synchronisation technology and related

Mass production was in existence USA by the turn of the century. Henry might have grasped practice techniques in some of the following:-

  • Fire arms
  • Sewing machines
  • Clocks and watches
  • Bicycles
  • Meat processing
  • Synchronisation
  • Steel production and Andrew Carnegie
  • Vertical integration
  • Perquisite for precision
  • Components bought in
  • Rationalisation , simplification

In 1909 Ford took the decision to manufacture only one type of car, the model T. Initially it took 14 hours to assemble a model T. By improving his mass production methods, Ford reduced the time to one hour 33 minutes lowering the cost of each car and enabling Ford to undercut the price of alternatives.

Early experiments used rope and windlass to drag cars along production line. This was soon replaced with sophisticated moving track.

Ford’s moving assembly line adopted c 1913 [in response to ever –increasing demand] and resulted in reduced price which increased demand further. Methods “brought about a dramatic increase in production coupled with a steady decrease in price ………..sales price dropped from $950- 1,000 to 360 over same period and $290 by 1923………….for many years he resisted working on aesthetic considerations ”

Black paint was used simply because it dried fastest!!

Budget breakdown retail and Running costs associated with early T

Sales price $850

Manuf cost $604

Contingency $46

Profit per car $200

C 1899 Ford suggesting the cost of running his car was approximately 1 cent per mile.


Henry ford benefited from networking and his collaborators contributed possibly more than has been credited .These included

  • CH Wills
  • Joseph Galamb
  • Farkas
  • Flanders [interchangeable parts]
  • Charlie “Cast iron” Sorensen [synchronisation]
  • Ed “Spider “Huff
  • Edsel Ford [son]

We invite subscribers to study these individually .Space here precludes detail explanation of each contribution significant as they were.

European and US manufacturers at Turn of century

From Otto to Duryea.

“In the early 20c there were few cars and they were unreliable. Only very rich people could afford them ……….

In USA c 1908 typical car prices ranged from $2,000 to 7,500. [The model T c $850.

There were a few low cost marques in the USA at the turn of the century but because cars were expensive to build the greater tendency was to address higher income groups.

Ford was recommended to focus on this strategy but he steadfastly addressed the volume market and this sense of democracy [or consumer sovereignty] ought not to be ignored as it contained some idealism as well as commercial sense.

It’s worth noting at the time that electric cars existed. This is another means to examine history and compare with the present.

Sociological and markets

It’s been estimated that 64% of all Ford T’s went to farmers or rural workers. In the process its estimated that the T remodelled the social life of the nation , caused a sociological evolution and an age old isolation of the farm [ serious students will wish to study the impacts and distances involved and also examine the impact of isolation on health welfare and education along with entertainment .]

The T was possibly easy enough for women to drive and hence become independent, mobile and not require to harness and control horses to transport family, commodities and conduct business and leisure.

Subscribers are directed to the museum in America where it’s possible to experience driving at T today. This is forensic and any serious student ought to make the effort to comprehend the product in the widest context. [The proposed CCM&EC is committed to similar forensic objectives]

1906 San Francisco earthquake

The model A made a significant contribution to saving life in this event.

Ford Advertising and straplines

Ford did not undertake huge advertising as the product itself achieved this although there were some early attractive straplines.

Customer service and dealer network

This was an important innovation and consistent with the product. These networks have relevance for today and subscribers might wish to examine Chapman and Lotus past and present from this perspective.

Irony and Contradictions

Henry Ford was a very complex man and this needs to be understood. He could be elusive and had an unusual mixture of practical mechanic and entrepreneur. His fundamental believe was that his cars ought to be simple, strong and created with common sense. His products were both simple and sophisticated. He was a devoted husband who had a loyal and supportive wife. He perhaps was not so good with his only son.

He enjoyed the benefits of many gifted employees like Andrew Carnegie around the same time.

Henry Ford had many contradictions. He was a pacifist during the 1st WW and possibly believed consumerism was the way to peace and a basis of democracy. He was believed to harbour anti-Semitic sentiments particularly towards his stereotyping of bakers/ financers.

He was authoritarian in work practice but round the time of the Russian Revolution almost doubled the wages of his work force with the belief that they might then be able to purchase his cars [cf UK Robert Owen?] and developed form of profit sharing? However he used Harry Bennett to intimidate workers and labour union.


Henry Ford again like Chapman had run- ins with law over patents and other issues. He was articulate and powerful and won in most cases

Time line

  • 1863 Henry Ford born on father’s farm in Springfield, Michigan. He developed an engineering / mechanics approach and perhaps a feeling farming methods needed improvement
  • 1879-82 he became an apprentice and later repairman
  • 1891-99worked at Edison Illuminating Co , also worked spare time on an engine ; he was just short of 30 years old
  • 1896 builds “Quadricycle”
  • 1899formed Detroit Automobile Co. Henry as chief engineer
  • 1901company reformed as Henry Ford Co; built two racing cars to attract publicity
  • 1903ford Motor co. Founded with backing of $28,000
  • 1903Model A
  • 1908Model T [1908-1927] 15 million sold
  • 1926 introduced “Tri-Motor” aircraft
  • 1932 introduction of Ford V8
  • Nb First world War 1914/18,depression years during 1920’s and Second world War 1939/45 -see text for Ford contribution including manufacture of Jeep [278,000]and Liberator on mass production lines
  • Henry Ford dies 1947
  • 1961Henry Ford II

Henry Ford and the “universal car”

DATES: 1863-1947


  • 1908 Model T Ford.
  • Assembly line mass production, vertical integration and precision engineering and assembly.
  • Industrial innovator.

“Ford’s “universal car” was the industrial success story of its age. Model T Ford cars pervaded American culture. The central role that the Model T had come to play in America’s cultural, social and economic life elevated Henry Ford into a full-fledged folk hero.

Henry Ford invented neither the automobile nor the assembly line, but recast each to dominate a new era. Indeed, no other individual in this century so completely transformed the nation’s way of life. He transformed the automobile itself from a luxury to a necessity.

“I’m going to democratize the automobile, I will build a motorcar for the great multitude,” Henry Ford had said in 1909. “When I’m through, everybody will be able to afford one, and about everybody will have one.” Such a notion was revolutionary. Ford set out to make the car a commodity.

Henry Ford was born in 1863 in Dearborn, Michigan, on the farm operated by his father, an Irishman, and his mother, who was from Dutch stock.

Ford devoted himself to making a working automobile. On weekends and most nights, he could be found in a shed in the back of the family home, building his car. So great was his obsession that the neighbours called him Crazy Henry. In 1903, he formed the Ford Motor Company in association with Alexander Malcomson and about a dozen other investors.

Prickly, brilliant, wilfully eccentric, he relied more on instinct than business plans. With a few colleagues, he devoted two years to the design and planning of the Model T.

The car that finally emerged from Ford’s secret design section at the factory was simple, sturdy, and versatile. That little car was doomed to excite the public imagination and change America forever. The car went to the first customers on October 1, 1908. In its first year, over ten thousand were sold, a new record for an automobile model. Between 1914 and 1916, the company’s profits doubled from $30 million to $60 million.”

“Again in the case of Henry Ford we have to make distinctions. Henry Ford created a dynasty through the Ford Motor Co and contributed significantly to global manufacture and consumerism. However he was not first and foremost an engineer or designer.

It’s possible that most of his creativity was directed to volume production and this in turn might be allied to his principles in democracy, consumerism and its potential contribution to world peace. Seen of the time this was an ethical consideration.

Henry Ford grew up on a farm from a humble start. He showed some mechanical empathy by dismantling watches and rebuilding them.

Around 1890 he had been a machinist and progressed to engineer. He started experimenting with engine and car design. With the help and support f C.Harold Wills he undertook racing c 1901

Henry Ford provided support for Indianapolis.

The Model T was built around 1908 with the assistance of a team of engineers including Wills, Galamb, Faras and others.

Ford conception of mass ownership might have led him into mass production and from there the consistent development of production economics and financing. Precision was perquisite of mass production and this allied with assembly line production contributed to lowering costs which of course returns the circle to increasing demand. Ford introduced vertical integration offered high wages to his employees and reduced labour turn over. It’s also believed that he offered profit sharing to the work force.

Form the net:-“Some of these latter individuals wanted Ford to build upon its success by branching upmarket where “the money” was known to be. A business and production genius just like Bill Gates a hundred years later, Ford saw the bigger picture in infinitely more success to be had by producing a really good product to sell to the millions whose lives it would revolutionise. The untapped market was then huge and the key lay in new production techniques, scale economies arising from unprecedented volumes, and passing on cost reductions achieved by these techniques back to the customer in progressively dropping the price of the car. Each time that was done, car ownership was opened up to a few million more ordinary folk. If the profit on each car was small it hardly mattered when Ford came to be producing up to 10,000 Model T’s PER DAY worldwide in the early twenties. Forget that which Volkswagen may tell you about the Beetle production figures, they were all exceeded by Ford except for the absolute total, but it took VW longer to exceed Ford’s Model T figure…….The time became ripe for Henry Ford to have his way. The Models N, R, and S, plus the Model K, were still in production when Model T design started. Like the smaller earlier Fords, lightness, a whippy chassis, planetary transmission and a four cylinder side valve engine were all used. Just about everything else was thought out from scratch to address earlier known problems. Very unusually for the time, literally all of the mechanism except the fan drive and valves of the Model T were enclosed. The latter became enclosed within a couple of years. The one-piece cast iron cylinder block was cast integral with the upper part of the crankcase and the cylinder head detachable. This latter is thought by the author to be a worldwide first in a production car?”

Figure 1.editors photographs

“Three-point mounting for the unit of the engine and gearbox, plus transverse springs only mounted to the chassis at their upper centres, made the car fit to cope with any type and any amount of rough and muddy ground. The farmer’s son and essentially down to earth practical man knew exactly what would cope with America’s then appalling rural roads, and keep on doing so. Lightness, simplicity, torquey power, good traction off-road and strength were all essential and built-in. So was ease of gear changing and total immunity to gear “grating” because everything was in constant mesh? Vanadium steel, then new to American industry, was used irrespective of cost for all key components such as axles and steering gear. The front axle and steering gear on a Model T looked so spindly that it would break at the first hurdle. It didn’t, the steel was tough beyond belief.”

Figure 2.editors photograph. Note beam axle, cf 100E range

“Henry Ford paved the way for the production of mass-produced cars by improving assembly line production methods. He added a conveyor system, whereby a car chassis was pulled along by a tow rope. Each worker had an assigned task along the line. Cars moved one after the other to each work station and each part of the assembly was done while the cars progressed through the line. Using this system, a Model T could be assembled in 90 minutes. The assembly line allowed Ford to make cars more quickly and more cheaply. When the Model T was first released, it carried a price tag of $850. The assembly line resulted in reduced production costs so Ford chose to pass the savings along to his customers. He later lowered his price to as low as $260 for the basic no-frills model.”

Ford T

Many engineers consider the Ford T one of the most significant automobiles of all time.

Although it was strictly utilitarian with extremely, limited specification it possess a high engineering content in terms of materials and construction. In fact its utility concealed considerable innovations.

The Ford T was simple, tough and cheap [on introduction circa $825 but reducing to $260 in the period 1923/24 by which time considerable production had been achieved. Production techniques and limited accessories kept the price low but the Ford T was not cheaply made in fact it offered simplicity and dogged reliability combined with extremely good value for money.

Some sources have suggested approximately 15 million were made. It’s believed the T retailed for the equivalent of £135 in 1914 and possibly as low at £60-70 during parts of 1920’s.It has been estimated that the price achieved was due to the production line assembly adopted by Ford and that a workforce of 1,200 were producing 1000 a day?

Other statistics suggest that or generalize into a deduction that in 1920 approximately half the world’s motor vechicles were model T’s

Data from the net etc.:-

Year Production Price for
1909 10,666 $825 ($21,700 in 2016) [44] Touring car was $850
1910 19,050 $900
1911 34,858 $680
1912 68,773 $590
1913 170,211 $525
1914 202,667 $440 Fiscal year was only 10 months long due to change in end date
from Sep 30 to July 31
1915 308,162 $390
1916 501,462 $345 [45]
1917 735,020 $500
1918 664,076 $500
1919 498,342 $500
1920 941,042 $395 Production for fiscal year 1920, (August 1, 1919 through July 31, 1920)
Price was $550 in March but dropped by Sept
1920 463,451 $395 Production for balance of calendar year, August 1 through Dec 31
Total ‘1920’ production (17 months) = 1,404,493
1921 971,610 $325 Price was $370 in June but dropped by Sept.
1922 1,301,067 $319
1923 2,011,125 $364
1924 1,922,048 $265
1925 1,911,705 $260 ($3,510 in 2016) Touring car was $290
1926 1,554,465 $360
1927 399,725 $360 Production ended before mid-year to allow retooling for the Model A

Estimated 18million model t’s sold over 18 years?

American Cost /income comparisons early 20th c.

Consistent with our evaluation about Henry Ford’s customer focus it’s necessary to be forensic in relation to comparative costs. We have established the following from the net:-

“How much did a car cost in 1905?

The average cost of a new car in the year 1905 was 590.00. The average annual wage for a worker in the U.S. was 487.00 annually.

A good 3 year old pinto pony might go for 40 dollars 1905

How much did food cost in 1905?

Below are some examples of food prices in 1905: Pot Roast was 6 cents per pound. Pork Loin Roast, 10 cents per pound. Dressed Cottontail Rabbits, 20 cents each Swiss Cheese, 22 cents per pound Butter, 22 cents per pound Pork Hocks, 7 cents per pound Pork Sausage, 10 cents per pound Lettuce, 3 heads for 10 cents Sweet corn, 5 cents per can String beans, 5 cents per can


-“Tooth soap” cost $0.25 (1896)
-Board at Clemson College for 40 weeks cost $59 (1896)
-A home on Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn, NY cost $7,000 to $12,000 (1901)
-One Oldsmobile cost $650 (1904)

-One pound of coffee cost $0.15

-$1 in 1900 = $26.40 today”

UK Income and Retail Prices*

Ford Motor co Archives. 1905 Model T £175

Tatler, 1905 8hp rover 2 seater£200.

Gallon petrol 1917 1s-7d


Occupation 1901 1911
Solicitor £1,500[a] £1,343[a]
Police constable 25s-8d 27s
General practioner £265-8[a]
Teacher £147-10[a] £176.[a]
Clerical worker £286[a] £229[a]
Coal miner 34s-4d 32s-2
Fitter 44s-7d 48s
Bricklayers labourer 17s-9d 18s
Compositor 35s-5 37s-5d
Farm worker

Ford in Britain: locations and Europe

Ford in Britain happened partly because of Percival Perry who persuaded Henry Ford.

The first Ford cars arrived in Britain in 1904.

Manchester: Ford Motor Co. [England] Ltd

6,000 cars believed sold in 1913


Ford possibly anticipated post war expansion and sought an alternative manufacturing base .Dagenham was possibly selected for:-

  • Deep water transport and import raw materials
  • Proximity to customer base
  • Ability to export to Europe
  • Sufficient space to expand
  • Cheap land
  • Available labour

Land bought in 1924/ 1925, for approximately £167,000 [estimated 310 acres] and building £5million; work commenced in 1929.

Production of Type Y Eight .cheapest model in 1930 sold for about £100.

During the war Ford plant went over to war effort providing mass production

Post war there was demand for products but little raw materials .The imperative was to export.

In 1947 Dagenham produced 115,000 vechicles, including cars, trucks and tractors.

World prosperity and demand witnessed Ford expand and outgrow Dagenham.

Expansion and diversification would be the mantra of the 1960’s [see A&R articles Lotus Design Decades]

Its reputed Ford spent £75,000,000 in capital investment in the 1950’s and a further £70 million at a new plant in Halewood near Liverpool.

Specialisation location =

Dagenham engines

Halewood gearboxes

Swansea rear axles

Later there would be plants at Eastleigh, Leamington Spa, Daventry, Langley, Southampton, Doncaster and Bridgend.

Railway logistics connected sites and impacted on location sites.

Ford R&D at Duntin, Essex.

Y Type and E93a / 100E etc.

These economy cars were generally high geared with slow running engines and 3 speed gearbox. They are considered the first Fords conceived for Europe.

These were specified around small bore engines of about 8 hp to accord with British taxation classes. There was a 90inch wheel base and light weight .c 1936 retailing at £100.

It’s been suggested the development costs of the 8hp were $210,000 [cf Fiesta in 1970’s at $1000, million]. The following reviews are worthy of study and reflect on the components to be used in lotus cars from the late 1940’s through 1050’s.

1936 The Autocar Road Test

1940 The Autocar Road Test

The consensus was that the 8hp was economical, the engine neat and looked straightforward .It was also accessible, easy access to ignition and distributor, oil filter and dipstick.

“The more this Ford is driven in a variety of conditions the more it grows upon one as providing thoroughly practical motoring at low cost”

2 door saloon retail at £100 and tax 36. 7.9 hp , 4 cylinder side valve of 933 cc.Weight 14 cwt, 2 qt,16lb.

Mean maximum speed of 57.69 mph.

1936 10 hp

Considered remarkably lively “does so much for its size /price”

4 door saloon body at £155. Tax £7.10s

10hp, 4 cylinder, side vale, 1172 cc

Weight 16cwt 1qu, 7lb.

Maximum mean speed 65.45 mph

Figure 3.editors sketch of Lotus Seven, Ford 1172cc side- valve engine

Note how perhaps the E93A /100E and notably the 1172cc side valve engine might have evolved out of the T concept. It was the basis of ford specials through the 1950’s and underpinned Lotus cars through the 1950’s in the Mk.VI and Seven and low budget Eleven.

Ford V8

Pre 2nd WW there was a 30hp V8.

A 1932 engine has been estimated at 65bhp. Personnel involved included Carl Schultz and Ray Laird.

Believed some V8 engines used by Harry Miller c 1935 for racing? [Front wheel drive for Indianapolis]

With this model Ford made some impact outside USA.

The evolved and developed Ford V8 engines would contribute very significantly to sports car design, aesthetics and competition results such as a Le Mans [GT40] and Indianapolis [Lotus and other marques] FI via Cosworth DFV.

This extends right up to present day.

Figure .editors sketch of Ford V8 as considered for Lotus Indianapolis car

Ford Cortina 1600E

These were huge commercial successes and provided Lotus notably the Seven with a series of practical engines and ease of parts availability/ servicing

Commercial Ford

Ford cannot be stereotyped just into road cars they also successfully provided the following commercial vechicles:-

  • Fordson tractor
  • Various pick-ups
  • Transit

Rally Ford and International Motor sport

As noted Fords were not particularly motor sport focused until Total Performance.

However the following achievements must be acknowledged:-

  • World Cup Rally
  • East African safari
  • Le Mans
  • Indianapolis
  • Powered F1 with Cosworth Ford notably with Lotus

NB significant Ford Rally cars:-

  • Ford Lotus Cortina
  • Escort Mexico
  • RS Rallye Sport
  • Escort Twin Cam
  • RS 1600 and 2000

Learning Opportunities

Our learning /educational opportunities are intended to be challenging thought provoking and requiring additional research and/or analysis.

These opportunities are particularly designed for a museum/education centre location where visitors would be able to enjoy access to all the structured resources available in conjunction with any concurrent exhibition.

In this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate:-

  • How were the Ford T’s mainly bought in USA? I.e. cash or credit?
  • Explore the sociology of mass production, what are impacts of de-skilling? Wages and consumerism?
  • Which race series have been constructed around Ford engines/components?
  • Calculate in which branch of motorsport has Ford gained the most publicity?
  • Attribute success of T
  • How, why did Ford design philosophy and mass production help Lotus?
  • Enumerate American car manufacturers C&C with Ford
  • Enumerate American car engineers and body stylists again C&C with Henry Ford
  • What were the limitations of the horse and buggy at turn of century America? What distances could realistically be completed and what was involved to make trip? Examine aspects of weather, season etc.
  • Examine the economic geography of Ford production sites in UA and Britain .What do they have in common? What impact did Fords manufacturing have on suppliers and specialists?
  • What British specialist car manufactures and kit cars used Ford engines?
  • Study a case history of Allard or Italian supercars of 1960’s adoption of American V8 engines

Exhibitions, Education, Economics and Entertainment

In the museum context the editors believe that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our suggested outline Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate:-

Figure .editors sketch of Lotus 38 Indianapolis car with Ford V8 engine

  • Fundamental Ford
  • Ford v Ferrari :Form and Function
  • Ford the Iron Horse
  • Ford :Car and Culture
  • The Universal Car and the Universal Soldier-Ford goes to War
  • John Ford and Henry Ford :How the West was Won
  • Ford :Total Performance
  • Henry Ford’s inspiration to architects and architecture
  • Ford and “Home, home on the range”
  • Ford: The Engine of Change
  • Henry Ford/Colin Chapman: Engines and Engineers


Henry Ford did not invent the motorcar or aspects of mass production .

However, his engineering and entrepreneurial force [and possibly a social philosophy towards consumer democracy] impacted on the world and its possibly impossible to fully measure the ongoing change he wrought.

In many respects the car defined the 20 century. Henry Ford in many respects instigated a revolution greater than steam and, in some respects, overturned an agricultural economy dependent on horsepower that had existed for centuries.

His impact was global. The mobility of the car has to be understood in a wide context that includes an interaction of: –

  • Cultural and behavioural change
  • Leisure, tourism and travel
  • Individual expression and privacy and status
  • Manufacturing impacting into other industries, products
  • Freeworld economics, example and exports of commodities and freedoms
  • War production and defense of free world
  • Increase in suppliers and specialists
  • National response and adoption of principle as evidence by Citroen/France. Fiat/Italy, VW/Germany, Austin/UK
  • Petrol exploration and distribution, social policy on transport and tax
  • Competition in business strategy nb how rivals attacked Ford dominance through choice and appeal
  • Commuting, residential living, zoning and public transport and town planning are biproducts of extensive adoption of car
  • Ford cars have impacted into popular culture through film, fashion and publicity
  • An engineering philosophy, business practice and assembly technology /practice and value for money
  • Ford has achieved a significant brand reputation world wide
  • Ford engines and components during 1960’s dominated F1 with Cosworth DFV
  • Ford components launched the building of Ford Specials during the 1950’s and provided the majority of kit car engines [ nb the V8 engines used in top end Cobra and GT40 kits]
  • Ford engines created demand for tuning manuals and aftermarket industry

The Model T deserves its reputation as the greatest car of the 20th century and Henry Ford as the instigator. This remarkable car ought to be experienced and we recommend driving opportunity offered in American Museum [see below]. This will provide benchmarking against the automobile before and since.

We cannot really conceive of Chapman /Lotus brand without factoring in Ford components.

Chapman was not an engine expert. He could not afford the cost or risk in early days of designing and building an engine. He was dependent on mainstream manufacturers. However, Chapman added value. His chassis enhanced performance of modest engines and combined with Ford engines provided the most powerful alchemy.

However, it ought to be noted that the basic, robust, reliable, tunable and affordable Ford engines conferred reputation on the Lotus brand with some guarantee of: –

  • Practicality
  • Reasonable affordability
  • Tunability and aftermarket upgrades
  • A dedicated race series and entry at club level
  • An ability to experiment
  • Dealer and spares network at international level

In many respects Chapman was dependent on the Ford engine range up until he developed his own in 1970’s..This applied to both road and race cars.

Some of Chapman’s /Lotus competition success at International level were achieved with Ford derived engines.

Through our analysis we hope to have demonstrated: –

  1. The extent that Henry Ford was revolutionary visionary engineer and industrialist
  2. That his methods impacted into wider culture and informed many of the greatest Industrial Designers and Architects of the 20th century; notably the Bauhaus who saw in his techniques the means to create quality and affordability and thus improve the lives and living environment of the poor
  3. Henry Ford and Colin Chapman shared some engineering and entrepreneurial skills and not least both aspired to simplicity and light weight machines
  4. Ford has created some legendary, iconic cars of the 20th century and his engines and components that found their way into Lotus helped produce some of the world’s most elegant and aesthetic concepts in automobile design

Appendix 1: Cosworth derived Ford engines

Year Code Title Details
1964 MAE Modified Anglia engine F.Junior, 1959-63
1966 SCA Single cam Anglia 1L for F2
1966 FVA Four valve Series A twin cam 1.6L F2
1968 BDA Belt driven Series A twin cam 16 valve

Figure .editors sketch of Cosworth FVA

Appendix 2: Ford Types/Models

Year Model Spec’/Details Engine Lotus App Price
1904 A
1905 B
1907 C
1907 R
1908 T $850
1909 T £115c1914
1916 T $360
1929 A
1932 B
1932 Y 8 £100 c 1935
1934 C
1936 V8/30HP £230-280
1936 V8/22HP
1937 10HP 1172 £160app’
1938 Prefect
1939 Anglia
1947 Pilot V8.
1949 Anglia
1949 Prefect
1951 Consul
1953 Popular £360 Anglia
1953 Zodiac £360
1955 Squire
1956 Zephyr
1959 Anglia £532
1961 Classic
1961 Capri
1962 Cortina and GT £494&£619
1963 Cortina LOTUS
1963 Zephyr
1966 Cortina
1966 Zephyr
1968 Escort
1969 Capri
1972 Granada
1976 Fiesta
1982 Sierra

Appendix 3: Ford T driving experience

See AACA Museum in USA

Tickets for our 2018 Model T Driving Experience are now on sale! This is a great lesson that allows you to get behind the wheel of a Model T! This sells out fast so hurry and get your ticket today!

Appendix 4.Austin Seven-from wiki

The Austin 7 is an economy car that was produced from 1922 until 1939 in the United Kingdom by Austin. It was nicknamed the “Baby Austin” and was at that time one of the most popular cars produced for the British market and sold well abroad. Its effect on the British market was similar to that of the Model T Ford in the US, replacing most other British economy cars and cyclecars of the early 1920s

Brief spec:-

Austin Seven 1924/26



Side valve

Weight 784lb

Retailing £175 & £159 in 1926

Seven EB& Nippy EB


Side valve

Weight 1092lb

Retailing £148 in 1933 and £130 in 1936

Appendix 5.Lotus adapted Ford beam axle

Figure .editors photographs and drawings of Ford beam axle adapted from Ford range dating from 1930’s [see Ford T axle above pictures]


The Value of a Pound.1900-1993 .UK. Oksana, Newman, Foster. Gale Research.1995.

ISBN: 1873477317

Henry Ford: Mass Production Modernism.Batchelor.Manchester University.1994.

ISBN: 079041732

I Invented the Modern Age.Snow.Scribner.2013.

ISBN: 9781451645576

A-Z British & Thoroughbred Motorcars 1919-39.Walker.Herridge.2007.

ISBN: 9789061133016

The Sports Car .Boddy. Batsford.1963

Racing Car.Jenkinson.Batsford.1962

Classic Sportscars.Posthumus&Hodges.Ivyleaf.1991

Classic Cars.Robson.Salamander.1989

One hundred Great Product Designs.Doblin.Van Nostrand Reinhold.1970.


Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.

*Items in italics non A&R library books.