Ford Model T
No list of important vehicles is complete without the Ford Model T. Thanks to ruthless cost cutting and the moving assembly line more than 15 million of them were produced between 1908 and 1927. As the first truly affordable car, Henry’s Tin Lizzie literally put the world on wooden-spoke wheels.
With a 20 horsepower four-cylinder engine under its louvered hood the car was capable of a top speed of about 45 miles an hour. That’s laughably slow by today’s standards but at the time it was more than adequate. At their smoothest the dirt roads of the day were as furrowed as a plowed field.
The Ford Model T, also called the “universal car,” was simple and reliable. It was designed to be operated and maintained by farmers living in rural areas. As such it allowed them to travel to place they had never seen before.
Not only did the car forever change the way people got around it transformed the landscape of America. Highways, gas stations, garages and roadside lodging were built to serve the needs of the burgeoning motorist class.
At its introduction the Model T was priced at $850, but Henry Ford continually simplified the manufacturing process and passed the saving on to his customers. By the time it went out of production 19 years later the car sold for as little as $260. How’s that for value?