May 25, 2007

The Model A Begins Production

Well, sort of. Actually, the Model T ceased production at about this time, so that the factory could be changed over to begin making the Model A. (Various sources quote the date as May 25, 26 or 27.)

This was actually the second vehicle that Ford made that was called the Model A. An earlier model, released in 1903, bore the same name. The Model T had been in production for 19 years, and Ford had sold over 15 million of them during that period.

The new Model A was the first vehicle to have its driver controls placed in what we would consider a normal position. The brake, throttle, and gear selector were in the approximate location that they are today. The Model A also featured safety glass (an industry first), an optional rumble seat, and could reach speeds of up to 65 miles per hour -- a 20 mph improvement over the Model T! It was available in 4 colors, and a variety of models. The fuel tank was located behind the engine, and was elevated above the carburetor, so that no fuel pump was required. Model A's occasionally had to be driven in reverse in order to get up hills. Prices ranged from around $400 for a roadster to a whopping $580 for a top-of-the-line Fordor.

The arrival of the Model A was awaited eagerly, and when it was finally released, an estimated 10 million people came to see it in the first 36 hours it was available. It cost $250 million to develop the Model A, and it remained in production until 1931, with a total production run of over 4 million vehicles. In 1931, it was replaced by the new Model B, which featured a V-8 engine.

The Model A was said to be Henry Ford's favorite car. He drove his own model -- which was equipped with tinted glass, special upholstery, and experimental brake drums -- well into the early 1940's.

Photo : A 1930 Model A © Ronnie Bergeron

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