More in depth on Henry Ford
Henry Ford's first attempt at a car company under his own name was the Henry Ford Company on November 3, 1901, which you may not know, became the Cadillac Motor Company on August 22, 1902, after Ford left with the rights to his name. Cadillac was formed from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company. After a dispute between Henry Ford and his investors, Ford left the company along with several of his key partners in March 1902. Ford's financial backers William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen called in engineer Henry M. Leland of Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing Company to appraise the plant and equipment in preparation for liquidating the company's assets. Instead, Leland persuaded the pair to continue manufacturing automobiles using Leland's proven single-cylinder engine. A new company called the Cadillac Automobile Company was established on 22 August 1902, re-purposing the Henry Ford Company factory at Cass Street and Amsterdam Avenue. It was named after French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who had founded Detroit in 1701.
The Ford Motor Company was launched in a converted factory in 1903 with $28,000 in cash from twelve investors, most notably John and Horace Dodge (as we covered in a early post). The first president was not Ford, but local banker John S. Gray, who was chosen to assuage investors' fears that Ford would leave the new company the way he had left its predecessor. During its early years, the company produced just a few cars a day at its factory on Mack Avenue and later its factory on Piquette Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. Groups of two or three men worked on each car, assembling it from parts made mostly by supplier companies contracting for Ford. Within a decade, the company would lead the world in the expansion and refinement of the assembly line concept, and Ford soon brought much of the part production in-house in a vertical integration that seemed a better path for the era.
Henry Ford was 39 years old when he founded the Ford Motor Company, which would go on to become one of the world's largest and most profitable companies. It has been in continuous family control for over 100 years and is one of the largest family-controlled companies in the world.
The first gasoline powered automobile had been created in 1885 by the German inventor Carl Benz (Benz Patent-Motorwagen). More efficient production methods were needed to make automobiles affordable for the middle class, to which Ford contributed by, for instance, introducing the first moving assembly line in 1913 at the Ford factory in Highland Park.
Between 1903 and 1908, Ford produced the Models A, B, C, F, K, N, R, and S. Hundreds or a few thousand of most of these were sold per year. In 1908, Ford introduced the mass-produced Model T, which totaled millions sold over nearly 20 years. In 1927, Ford replaced the T with the Model A, the first car with safety glass in the windshield. Ford launched the first low-priced car with a V8 engine in 1932.
In an attempt to compete with General Motors' mid-priced Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick, Ford created the Mercury in 1939 as a higher-priced companion car to Ford. Henry Ford purchased the Lincoln Motor Company in 1922, in order to compete with such brands as Cadillac and Packard for the luxury segment of the automobile market.
In 1929, Ford was contracted by the government of the Soviet Union to set up the Gorky Automobile Plant in Russia initially producing Ford Model A and AAs thereby playing an important role in the industrialisation of that country.