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The Ford Motor Company is one of the world’s oldest and most highly respected automobile manufacturers. Normally referred to simply as, “Ford”, the company was founded on 16th June 1903 by Henry Ford in Michigan, Detroit.

Aged only 39 at the time, Henry Ford was an American industrialist who sponsored the development of mass production cars and assembly line techniques that changed the face of the automotive industry.

As the developer of the first car that middle-class Americans could afford, he transformed the automobile into a practical mode of transport, instead of an expensive oddity – a transformation that had a profound impact on the 20th century, revolutionising transport and industry in general. He later went on to become one of the most famous – and richest – people in the world.

Early life

Born in July 1863, to parents William and Mary Ford, Henry was one of five children; he had two sisters, Margaret and Jane; and two brothers, Robert and William junior.

Henry showed an aptitude for all things mechanical at the age of 15, after his father gave him a pocket watch. He learned how to dismantle and reassemble it and became an impromptu watch repairman as a result, helping friends and neighbours.

After his mother’s death, Henry wrote of how his father wanted him to take over the family farm one day. However, the young Henry loathed farm work, saying he didn’t have “any particular love” for the farm but rather that he’d loved his mother who lived there.

Early career

In 1879, aged 17, Henry took a job as an apprentice machinist in Detroit, working for James F Flower and Brothers’ machine shop and then at Detroit Dry Dock Company from 1881. He learned all about heavy industry before returning to the family farm, where he learned how to operate a Westinghouse portable steam engine. This led to his being hired by Westinghouse to service the steam engines.

He also studied bookkeeping at Detroit’s Goldsmith, Bryant and Stratton Business College at this time. He joined Edison Illuminating Company as an engineer in 1891 and designed a self-propelled vehicle, the Ford Quadricycle, in 1896.

Ford Motors launch

After building several more experimental vehicles, he formed a partnership with his old friend. Together with Alexander Malcomson (who at that time was a coal dealer), they launched automobile manufacturer Ford and Malcomson Ltd.

The Ford Motor Company was started on 16th June 1903, with backing from other investors. The company introduced new methods of large-scale car manufacturing and management of an industrial workforce using moving assembly lines – the brand went from strength to strength throughout the 20th century. Ford acquired UK subsidiaries Jaguar in 1989 and Land Rover in 2000, selling them on to Tata Motors in 2008. Ford also owned Volvo from 1999 to 2010.

Ford today

The company manufactures cars and commercial vehicles under the Ford brand and luxury cars under the Lincoln brand. It also owns Australian performance car manufacturer FPV; Brazilian SUV manufacturer Troller; and has a stake in Aston Martin and Jiangling of China. It has joint ventures in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Russia.

Ford is the second-largest US based auto-manufacturer behind General Motors; the fifth-largest auto-manufacturer in the world; and the overall eighth-ranked American-based company in all sectors, based on global revenues of $118.3 billion, producing 5.532 million automobiles per year and employing 213,000 employees at around 90 plants worldwide.

With its long and trusted history as a reliable manufacturer, Ford is the preferred choice of H&H Van Hire, with the brand making up most of our fleet.

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