Car History 101: Ford Models

Car History 101: Ford Models
Photo: Adobe Stock

Ford’s prominence in the car industry is long and strong. It’s fascinating to see the Ford name still in the race 117 years later. 

Ford initiated, transformed, and reinvented the automobile industry from the Model T, Mustangs, Ford Fiesta Models to their modern luxury SUVs. But it’s impossible to talk about this without mentioning Henry Ford. 

Even at a young age, Henry Ford was already interested and gifted in mechanics. By 1893, he became a chief engineer. The year 1893 seems to have been a great year for Henry since it was also the year that he created a one-cylinder gasoline model. On a wooden kitchen table, Henry Ford on his way to building an empire. Below are the models he and his company later created:

The Quadricycle and earlier models

In the year 1896, Henry Ford finished his first-ever Ford car called the Quadricycle. It was powered by a four- horsepower engine and had a crude frame and bicycle wheels. The Quadricycle had two forward gears, 1st gear (10 mph) and 2nd gear (20 mph), but no reverse. It also had a tiller instead of a steering wheel. Unfortunately, the Quadricycle easily overheated because it had no cooling system. But this was added a year later.

After the failure of his first company, The Detroit Automobile Company, Henry decided to create cars for people’s everyday use. After 20 tries named Models A to T, he had one that was working.

Model N

In 1906, the Ford Model N was created. It became the best-selling car in the United States and propelled Ford to be its number 1 car producer. In 1905 they only made 1,600. But by 1906, with improvements in the assembly line, they were able to produce 8,400 cars.

Ford T model history
Photo: Adobe Stock

Model T

Vanadium steel was incredibly tough and light, and they used this alloy to create the Ford Model T in 1908. Thanks to vanadium steel, Ford received an order for 25,000 units. However, they were only able to produce 17,771 units in 1909.

Because of the extreme demand, they opened Highland Park Ford Plant in 1910. After perfecting the moving assembly line, they made 20,277 Model T units in 1910. After six years, they were mass-producing 585,388.

As more vehicles were produced, Henry Ford reduced prices, which was a genius move to augment his market share. Thanks to this strategy, half of all the cars in the United States consisted of Model Ts.

Lincoln and Mercury Lines

When Edsel became the company president, there were a lot of achievements made from airplanes, Model A, the flathead V8 engine, and a change in the car design. Edsel added beauty to the car’s design by giving it elegant and smooth lines, seen in the stylish Lincoln and Mercury cars. Although the Lincoln came first, it was still considered as a luxury car. So, in 1938, the Mercury cars were made available at an affordable price.

1949 Ford

After WWII, Ford released a new car with a unique aerodynamic shape. It also had pontoon fenders, an updated V8 engine, and an airplane inspired spinner grille. No one has seen anything like this car, and it was a complete 180 from their past designs.

The 50s

In the 1950s, all kinds of cars with unique designs stormed the population. There was the 1950 County Squire with its wooden doors and the 1951 Victoria with its curved aesthetic, to name a few. But one unforgettable design is the Thunderbird. This classic car was known for its convenience and comfort and its distinct design, porthole windows, and outstanding performance.

The Mustang

In the year 1964, the Mustang went on sale, and it was affordable. This car was easily recognizable with its long hood and short deck. This iconic car is one of the fastest-selling vehicles ever. This model is so popular that even celebrities love to rebuild them into their dream car. One excellent rebuild is Robert Downey Jr.’s 1970 Mustang.

Ford GT40

This Ford GT40 is a high-endurance performance racing car that made its debut in 1964. By 1966 three Ford GT40 MK. IIs finally beat Ferrari at Le Mans. They also won 1967, 1968, and 1969 with all kinds of GT40s. Here are some of the Ford GT40 Models:

  • GT49 MK. I
  • GT40 MK. II
  • GT40 R
  • GT40 50th Anniversary
  • Future 40

Ford Fiesta

In 1976, Ford Europe released the Ford Fiesta. This front-wheel drive with a subcompact hatchback was internationally successful. Incredibly, this car beat the 1965 Mustang’s sales record. They started with a massive $870 million budget, and the rest is Ford Fiesta History.


In 1985 the Taurus broke out with a design that was the complete antithesis of the box-car design. Its smooth, aerodynamic body helped the car become one of their most popular models. The Taurus is the forerunner of this new “jelly bean” design that can still be seen today.

The 90s

By 1990, Ford released this family-friendly SUV, which was more comfortable and had better handling. Targeting the domestic market was genius because the Explorer became another of Ford’s most popular and successful models.

Three years later, the Mondeo debuted a sedan called the Mondeo. In America, this was called Ford Contour or Mercury Mystique. It was only in 2000 that they renamed it the Ford Fusion.

By 1996, Ford released an innovative electric vehicle called the Ranger EV. It used lead-acid batteries, and it is one of the precursors to hybrid and electric cars.

Still, the SUV rose in popularity even by the end of the 90s. In 1998, the Lincoln Navigator was sold, and it prompted the popularity of luxury SUVs.

21st century

By the 21st century, Ford has grown into a massive company with a net worth of $180 billion as of 2021. However, in the 2000s, the automobile industry in the United States was struggling. But Ford was able to avoid bankruptcy and even had better sales in 2009. As a company, they took various measures to make sure they reduced costs, such as focusing on more popular brands.

By 2016, they adapted to the times by initiating Ford Smart Mobility, which allowed them to develop self-driving vehicles and other projects. In 2018, they decided to concentrate on SUVs, crossover vehicles, and pickups. So, aside from the Ford Focus Active and the Mustang, all other passenger cars were phased out.


The remarkable history of Ford has been an inspiration to many. Starting from scratch, Henry Ford was able to build a massive empire that lives to this day. Creating and reinventing their models is one of the ways they stay in business. But it can’t be denied that their business practices and strategies are also keys that drove their success.