Model T : Any color so long it’s black

Model T was not just a name for a car. But it was the name of change that revolutionised the whole industry. And not just the auto industry but society as well. As in own words of the founder of Ford motor company, Mr. Henry Ford, model T was

henry ford

A car for the great multitude. Large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. Constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But so low priced that no man making a good salary would be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.

So rather than classify it into a car that changed, how cars would be made for ever or a engine that can run multitude of fuels or a car that dreams of millions of families to own a car possible, but Model T sum of all of it and much more. And definitely much more than a car that was only available in black(partly true).

The birth of change

Contrary to popular belief Model T was neither the first car made nor the first made by Ford. The vehicle that was made by Henry Ford was a Quadricycle that he sold for $200. This initial made him found the Ford motor company.


The first model from Ford motor company was actually named Model A in 1903 . There were some 19 models and prototypes and another 5 years of time till Model T came around. The first Model T were produced on October 1, 1908 at the Piquet plant in Detroit, Michigan.


Conceived by Henry Ford as practical, affordable transportation for the common man, it quickly became prized for its low cost, durability, versatility, and ease of maintenance. Assembly-line production allowed the price of the touring car version to be lowered from $850 in 1908 to less than $300 in 1925. At such prices the Model T at times comprised as much as 40 percent of all cars sold in the United States. Even before it lost favour to larger, more powerful, and more luxurious cars, the Model T, known popularly as the “Tin Lizzie” or the “flivver,” had become an American folkloric symbol, essentially realizing Ford’s goal to “democratize the automobile.”

Any colour as long as it’s black.

2 passenger open runabout

Another popular myth about Model T was that it was offered in single colour black and in only one body type(actually it was offered in nine different body types). This was partly true and can be attributed to a statement Mr. Ford gave during one of sales meetings. There is a interesting story behind this quote.

In his autobiography, Mr Ford mentions that the salesmen, were spurred by the great sales to think that even greater sales might be had if only we had more models. But Ford believed that salesmen were only listening to the 5 per cent., the special customers who could say what they wanted, and forgot all about the 95 per cent. So in own words of Mr. Ford


Therefore in 1909 I announced one morning, without any previous warning, that in the future we were going to build only one model, that the model was going to be “Model T,” and that the chassis would be exactly the same for all cars, and I remarked:
“Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”

But truth was far from it. Model Ts were, in fact, offered in a choice of colour(four precisely, green, gray, midnight blue and red) early in the car’s lifetime around 1908, and again after 1926. But it was true in mean that from 1914 to 1925 it was was indeed offered in black only. As he was experimenting with the assembly line for Model T at the time and initially only fast-drying  paint was available for “full-speed” assembly was black.

The assembly line

When introduced, the T used the building methods typical at the time, assembly by hand, and production was small. The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant could not keep up with demand for the Model T. And only 11 cars came out of the factory during the first full month of production.


More and more machines were used to reduce the complexity within the 84 defined areas. In 1910, after assembling nearly 12,000 Model Ts, Henry Ford moved the company to the new Highland Park complex. As a result, Ford’s cars came off the line in three-minute intervals, much faster than previous methods. Reducing  the production time from 12.5 hours before to 93 minutes by 1914, using less manpower.

In 1914, Ford produced more cars than all other automakers combined. The Model T was a great commercial success. And by the time Henry made his 10 millionth car, half of all cars in the world were Fords. Reaching a rate of 9,000 to 10,000 cars a day in 1925, or 2 million annually.

Some more Interesting facts about Model T

  • The first Model T were produced on October 1, 1908 at the Piquet plant in Detroit, Michigan.
  • More than 15 million Model Ts were manufactured in all.
  • Model T was so successful that  Ford did not purchase any advertising between 1917 and 1923.
  • It was available in nine different body styles using the same engine and chassis.
  • The colors of the first Model T cars were grey, green, blue, and red – not black.
  • It was not first car to introduce assembly line but the Oldsmobile Curved Dash
  • The car became commonly known as the “Tin Lizzie”.
  • It had a front-mounted, inline four-cylinder engine capable of running on gasoline, kerosene, or ethanol.
  • It could  achieve a top speed of 40–45 mph.
  • The reverse gear had more power to offer than the forward gears. Therefore  people used to drive it up a steep hill backward.

To know more about the history of automobile keep driving In The Autolane

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)