The car that helped the world fall in love with motoring

The Model T put the world on wheels but its successor, the Model A, helped the world fall in love with motoring.

Production started on October 20, 1927, and a movie camera was there to capture the entire process, from Henry Ford hand-stamping the first engine to the finished article rolling off the production line.

Despite the Ford Model T ruling the roads for nearly two decades, by 1927 competing motor manufacturers were producing vehicles that offered more style, better performance and improved technology; Henry Ford could not afford to fall behind.

So, on May 26, 1927, he halted production of the Model T and began retooling his Detroit factory for a new model. On the very same day Ford sent a cryptic telegram to dealers announcing the early production of an entirely new Ford car, superior in design and performance to any vehicle in the low price, light car segment.

A similar announcement was prepared for local newspapers teasing the public about the new, yet-to-be-named Ford.
At present I can only say this about the new model – it has speed, style, flexibility and control in traffic. There is nothing quite like it in quality and price.

With no vehicle to reference, rumours started to circulate about the new car, and Ford was keen to cultivate the speculation. Information was filtered through to the public, building anticipation, while testing on public roads was limited. During one 300-mile trip from Detroit to Claire, Michigan, a prototype was mobbed by curious onlookers.

Despite going in to production in October, Ford waited until late November to announce the launch date of the still-unnamed Ford, by which time thousands of orders had already been placed.

Pricing was announced on December 1, starting at just $500, and the Model A was finally unveiled the next day at locations all over the U.S. More than 10.5 million people turned out to see the new Ford, which was 10 per cent of the country’s population at the time.

The all-new Ford Model A didn’t disappoint. It featured four-wheel brakes, improved fuel economy, laminated safety glass, hydraulic shock absorbers, and a 40 hp 3.2-litre four-cylinder engine capable of reaching 65 mph.

During its first two weeks on sale the Model A received 400,000 orders. By February 4, 1929, one million Model As had been sold; by July 24 it was two million, and sales hit three million mark in March, 1930.

Known as the A-bone, it became popular with hot-rodders and helped to accelerate the hobby of car customisation that is still popular today, which undoubtedly helped with the car’s success. Despite only be produced from 1927 to early 1932, the Ford Model A went on to sell more than 4.3 million units.

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