happy birThday!

July 22, 2008

The Model T turns 100 this week, and more than 900 of them are expected at the Wayne County Fairgrounds for the Model T Ford Centennial Party. This article explains some of the significance of the Tin Lizzie:

John Heitmann, a history professor at the University of Dayton who has taught classes on automobile history and its impact on American life, said the Model T is one of the most historically significant cars of the 20th century and maybe the single most important American car.

[. . .]

The Model T, nicknamed the “Tin Lizzie,” was probably the most important vehicle in causing social change in America, Heitmann said. It helped transform the nation’s cities, enabling residents to move farther away from the trolley lines and creating the first ring of suburbs, he said.

All of that is true, but it considerably understates the Model T’s transformation of society. Ford’s mass production ushered in the industrial age, establishing, among other things, the minimum wage and the eight-hour work day. And because the car was so cheap (becoming even cheaper, going from $825 in 1908 to $260 in 1925), the people who made them could actually buy them. So could millions of ordinary Americans. It might be stretching it to say that Ford and his Model T created the modern middle class, but they sure helped make it an enduring force.

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One Response to “happy birThday!”

  1. Bob G. Says:

    Funny thing…Henry Ford made that vehicle able to run on anything from gas (which was not in abundance every few miles) to kerosene to moonshine…and all points in between.

    Talk about the original “alternative-fuel” car.

    B.G.


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