The Influence of the American Automobile
There’s hardly a person alive in America today that hasn’t ridden in an automobile of some sort at some point in their life. We’re all connected to each other by roads crisscrossing roads and highways all across country, and yet few people understand how we got to this point. They simply accept their magic metal box will work when they put the key in to start their car. Long ago, this country once had a great love affair with the American Automobile, and it was a turbulent, passion filled, amazing ride.
If someone asks, “What was the first American car?” Many would answer, “Ford’s Model-T.” However, Henry Ford had been manufacturing cars for over a decade before the introduction of the Model-T. The first American car was most likely the Baushke "Autymobile" built in 1894. During that time period there was a boom in start-up manufactures of the new “Horseless Carriage” machines, everybody in the coach and bicycle industry was jumping at the chance to build one. Dozens of manufactures came and went, but a few of those early start-ups still exist today.
These early automobiles were loud, uncomfortable, and often dangerous, but that didn’t stop the dreamers and innovators from pushing forward. Henry Ford was one such visionary. He knew early on the automobile industry was going to change America. He strategically positioned himself to be at the forefront of this new invention sweeping the nation. He had started the Henry Ford Company in 1901, and by 1902, he had built his first car, the Cadillac. After a dispute with the chair holders of the company, Henry Ford left the company for a new start up, the Ford Motor Company. What he left behind was restructured and thus General Motors was created from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company, he was directly responsible for two of “The Big Three” automobile manufactures in America, and for his largest competitor.
Ford wanted to bring the automobile to the common man. Manufacturing automobiles in the late 19th century was quite expensive and therefore only the incredibly wealthy could afford to purchase them. Often these cars sold for several thousand dollars. That was more than many people made in their life at that time. Ford knew that if he could break free of the cost prohibitive manufacturing practices, which were currently in use, he could make a fortune. He developed the first assembly line in 1908 to cheaply build the Model-T which became the number one selling car of all time.
Other companies quickly started their own assembly lines in an attempt to keep up with Ford. No longer was the automobile reserved for a select few of society’s elite. The Model-T had opened the floodgates for automobile ownership to the general public. Ford only made subtle changes to the Model-T from year-to-year. Millions them had been sold in the twenty years it had been manufactured all largely similar to the original one made...