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Americans will long remember the name Henry Ford (1863-1947). In 1896 Henry Ford built his first American Automobile in a workshop behind his home in Detroit.

It was a small crude two cylinder car that was constructed for experimental purposes only. Ford's first car was a simple frame with four bicycle wheels mounted on it and equipped with a pure ethanol powered two cylinder engine.

Henry Ford sold his first Quadricycle for $200.00 that first year. Ford built two more Quadricycles, one in 1899 and another in 1901.

The Ford Quadricycle specifications included a 2 cylinder 4 cycle gasoline engine, chain drive, a bore of 2 1/2 inches, a stroke of 6 inches, 2 speed transmission (no reverse), 49 inch wheelbase, 38 1/2 inch tread, 26 inch wheels and tires and weighed 500 pounds.

1896 Ford Quadricycle
1896 Ford Quadricycle

Henry Ford found he needed considerable financial help if he were to go into the business of building automobiles. On August 5, 1899 The Detroit Automobile Company was founded by Henry Ford and several Detroit businessmen including the Mayor of Detroit Mayor, William C. Maybury. The manufacturing plant was located at 1343 Cass Avenue in Detroit. As with many early American Automobile ventures, the Detroit Automobile Company struggled and was dissolved in January 1901. Only about 20 vehicles were built.

Ford Factory

Ford had been thinking of building a race car and by the summer of 1901 he built a lightweight 2 cylinder racer at a cost of $5,000.00. Henry Ford then drove the racer at the Grosse Pointe equestrian track on October 10, 1901. Beating Alexander Winton's 40 horsepower racer in a ten-mile race as speeds reached close to a mile a minute.

Henry Ford was convinced that racing would attract the attention necessary to establish himself in the automotive field. So in 1901 he formed the Henry Ford Company. This new company resulted from the reorganization of the Detroit Automobile Company, which was Ford's first unsuccessful attempt at automobile manufacture a year before. In March 1902, Ford left the Henry Ford Co. following a dispute with his financial backers.

On August 1, 1902, Henry M. Leland was brought in by the Henry Ford Co. financial backers to appraise the plant and equipment prior to selling. However, Henry Leland persuaded the board to continue in the automobile business. The Henry Ford Company was then reorganized that year as Cadillac Automobile Co.. Ford left with his name and a few hundred dollars.

1903 Ford Motor Company Factory
1903 Ford Motor Company Factory

On June 16, 1902, Henry Ford formed a co-partnership with a Detroit coal dealer by the name of A. Y. Malcomson. Out of that partnership finally emerged the Ford Motor Co. The first Ford Motor Company automobile rolled out the factory in July 1903.

When Henry Ford formed his own automobile manufacturing company in 1903, he called his cars by the letter of the alphabet. Thus the first model from the new production became the 1903 Model A, which was followed by others less well known until we come to the legendary Model T, which made Ford's fortune. Not every letter denoted another model. Some were assigned to prototypes that never saw production. When Ford neared the end of the alphabet, he began all over again. So that there are two Model As separated by an interval of twenty five years.

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