If you left your house or apartment today, there's one thing we can predict with relative certainty -- you saw a Ford vehicle on the streets. Probably a lot of them. Maybe you even drove one. Founded in 1903, the Ford Motor Company is just part of the fabric of America, just as Henry Ford, the company's founder, is a towering figure in American history. Some of his political views didn't stand the test of time (to say the least), but others were forward-thinking and progressive, and the Ford Foundation does charitable work to this day.
Let's consider some of Ford's contributions to automotive history. First off, there's the Model T, the automobile that made car ownership a possibility for middle-class Americans for the first time. At one point, Ford was making 1 million of them a year, an astounding number for the time. Decades later came the Mustang, an American icon. Celebrities drove it in New York and Los Angeles; teenagers raced it on dusty rural backroads; Steve McQueen famously tore through San Francisco in one in "Bullitt." Meanwhile, durable Ford trucks have become the bestselling trucks in America, loved by farmers, ranchers and construction workers everywhere.
Do you bleed Ford blue? We've got a quiz for you, then, on the automaker's history and its most famous cars. Are you ready? Let's go!
Ford is sometimes called "the blue oval company," so well-known is their badge. It was designed and debuted in the late 1920s. It is Chevrolet that's the gold bowtie company.
It's mostly truck owners who carry on this rivalry, with bumper stickers like "Friends don't let friends drive Chevys." Ford's business rivalries are more complex, with competition coming from other General Motors brands beside Chevy, and also from Japanese automakers.
Ford's pickup trucks are the F-150, F-250, and so on. Models considerably up the line, like the F-750, are solely for commercial purposes.
The fuel tank of the Pinto was placed between the rear axle and the rear bumper, and was prone to gas leakage and fires if the car was struck from behind. Several deaths were attributed to this defect. Depending on how you look at it -- and opinions are mixed -- the Pinto was either a gross case of corporate irresponsibility or "Pinto Madness" that ignores that the VW Beetle has a worse safety record.
The Ford EcoBoost engine reduces both fuel consumption and emissions. However, oddly enough, Ford promotes it by sponsoring several NASCAR "Ford EcoBoost" races, in which high-performance gas-burning cars drive hundreds of miles in circles ... you probably see the irony.
The actual Ford Motor Company wasn't founded until later. However, Ford built his first vehicle (it's hard to call it a car; pictures show a kind of cart with four bicycle-like wheels) in the late nineteenth century.
It's not an overstatement to say that the Model T changed America. It provided, for the first time, a car that the middle class could afford.
It's hard to put this into perspective today, but $5 was an amazing rate. It was more than double the going wage, and Ford was repaid in worker loyalty and low turnover.
The adoption of the moving assembly line radically decreased the time it took to make a car. However, turnover became high, as workers bored with doing the same task over and over quit for other jobs. This was one reason Ford began offering higher pay.
Fords in the "teens" were offered in basic black. Better, we suppose, the bright yellow or mint green!
The main thing that mars Henry Ford's legacy is his anti-Semitic views. They aren't defensible, but unfortunately overshadow his other values, like his commitment to hiring disabled veterans and discouraging smoking in the young (neither stance was common in Ford's time).
Though we think of the F-series as a present-day model, it goes back about as far as the classic old Chevy stepsides. The first F-series trucks rolled out in 1947.
The first-year Mustang is often called the "1964 1/2" model. This is because it was uncharacteristically introduced at mid-year.
The term "pony car" is derived from the name Mustang (though, technically, a Mustang is not a pony). Ford capitalized on this by rolling not the Pinto not long after.
The first Mustangs cost about $2400. Today, a 1964 Mustang is good condition will run you between $20,000 and $30,000. What an investment!
Mercury was a successful line of higher-end cars for Ford since the late 1930s. However, financial troubles and restructuring evidently meant keeping the brand going no longer made sense.
Edsel Ford is most associated with the car named after him (a line of cars, actually). The Edsel was an expensive, highly-promoted flop with buyers, and even today "Edsel" is sometimes used as a synonym for a product failure.
Poor Edsel Ford! He was president of the Ford Motor Company from 1919 to 1943, and was an enthusiastic and creative lead executive. It was only after his death that Ford named a car for him that was a commercial failure, forever linking him with a mistake he didn't make.
If your first thought was Detroit, you weren't far off. Dearborn isn't far from the Motor City.
These were both luxury brands. Ford decided to focus on its basic and strongest lines, like its trucks, and the ever-popular Mustang.
Ford was notable for not taking a government bailout during the "too big to fail" years, and Mulally was generally praised for his leadership during that time. However, his CEO compensation of more than $20 million a year takes a bit of a luster off that hero status.
Iacocca went on the revitalize Chrysler in the 1980s. He wrote an popular autobiography shortly thereafter, as well as a book on business leadership.
The years in question are 1992 to 1996. Toyota's Camry then stole the crown.
If you're used to thinking of Tauruses as those cars driven by underpaid high-school principals and youth pastors, think again. Non-production Tauruses have burned up the stock-car tracks.
It really wasn't long after its founding before the Ford company was making inroads in the European market. Ford began selling cars in Paris in 1908.
Rack-and-pinion steering uses a gearwheel that meshes with the teeth of a gear bar. It's a lot easier to understand once you see a diagram, we promise.
The Laser was sold outside the US, including in Asia and Oceania. However, it is very similar to the Escort, which was available stateside.
Ford supports several NASCAR teams. However, there isn't one named for the current CEO, Mark Fields.
The F-series is the bestselling line of trucks in America, and popular elsewhere in the world, too. In light of these sales, it seems like a good decision that, back in the mid-2000s, Ford cut ties to luxury brands of cars that it owned in order to focus on its core products.
These are named after auto-racing giants Jack Roush, Steve Saleen and Carroll Shelby. A vintage Shelby Mustang is probably the most coveted among car lovers.
Sorry, "all of the above" is often the right answer, but not here! Veronica Mars had a Chrysler LeBaron, and Kinsey Millhone a VW Beetle. But Starling was apparently devoted to the blue oval company, driving a Pinto in "Silence of the Lambs," then trading up to a Roush Mustang in "Hannibal."
Ford designed this fragile-looking self-propelled cart in 1896. The name a reminder that this was a time when cars were so new nobody really knew what to call them.
There are some black marks on the Ford legacy, Henry Ford's noted anti-Semitic views and union busting among them. But the family members who take the reins are not to be mistaken for figureheads. Bill Ford has degrees from Princeton and MIT and has worked in many roles in the company, including, for a time, as its CEO.
Ford just missed the top ten by one spot. General Motors, a larger umbrella company of car brands, edged it out at number 10.
You don't hear about it much anymore, but "Fordism" is essentially about how mass production and mass consumption can support each other, with both, in turn, keeping a healthy economy afloat. It is based on Henry Ford's ideas about paying his workers a decent wage while producing inexpensive goods they could buy.