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Henry Ford was born on his parents’ farm in Greenfield Township, Michigan on July 30, 1863. He was the first person to make dependable automobiles that were affordable enough for just about any American family to own. As a result, he forever transformed the meaning of transportation, and the way manufacturing is done.

Today, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without cars. Before Henry Ford was born, most moving vehicles were pulled by horses or mules.

When he was twelve years old, while travelling to the nearby city of Detroit, the most impactful event occurred. Henry, together with his father, saw a huge, chugging, clanking, steam-driven engine coming down the road towards them. It was the first self-propelled vehicle Henry had ever seen. The moment he saw this, it was decided that he will become a machinist – someone who builds and repairs machines.

He started by practicing building small steam engines and improved his mechanical skills by fixing his neighbors’ broken pocket watches. He even crafted tiny tools to repair the watches. At sixteen, Henry left home to travel to Detroit to work at different machine shops and learn all he could about mechanics.

Henry returned to his family farm after three years and was given by his father forty acres of land to set up a sawmill. He also began thinking more seriously about building a horseless carriage. During this time, Henry met his future wife, Clara Bryant. They married on April 11, 1888.

Henry and Clara moved back to Detroit and got a job immediately at the Edison Illuminating Company, which built electric power stations. Henry worked there as an engineer and machinist, and in his spare time, he read everything he could find about building engines. When at home in his workshop, Henry worked on a gasoline engine that would someday power his horseless carriage. Today, a replica of this workshop is on display at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.

Henry Ford did not invent the gasoline engine, nor the internal combustion engine. It was invented just before Henry was born. But he still thought they could be better than steam engines.

Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, either. A few carmakers had been around for years, but their cars were too expensive for most Americans to own. Also, these early cars were difficult to handle. There were also a small number of cars built for racing, which was just starting to become a popular sport at the time. Henry’s goal was to make a car that was reliable and was affordable for anyone and everyone to own.

In November 1893, Clara and Henry had their only child, Edsel. About a month later, Henry brought his first gasoline engine into the kitchen to test, and it was successful in starting up. The engine worked.

A few days later, Henry started building a larger engine that would be powerful enough to run a vehicle. Then, with the help of some mechanic friends, Henry built a frame with bicycle wheels, a seat, and steering stick called a tiller. In 1896, Henry took his first horseless carriage for a test ride down the streets of Detroit. Henry called his first car a “quadricycle”.
Ford Model T Pickup Truck - 1919
Ford Model T Truck - 1923
Ford Model Farm Equipment Brochure - 1948
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