The history of the car would be changed forever when the Ford Motor Company was incorporated, in 1903, with Henry Ford holding 25.5% of the stock and acting both as Vice President and Chief Engineer. At first only a few cars a day were produced at the Ford factory on Mack Avenue, Detroit, where two or three men worked on each car built from components made to order by other companies. The first car built by the company, was sold on 23 July 1903, and Henry became President before becoming the Controlling Owner three years later.
Henry Ford realised his dream of producing an automobile that was reasonably priced, reliable, and efficient with the introduction of the Model T in 1908. This vehicle signalled a new era in personal transport – it was easy to operate, maintain and handle on rough roads and was an immediate success.
A new generation
Things were advancing rapidly. 1919 saw Henry and his son, Edsel, acquire the interest of all minority stockholders for $105,568,858 and become the sole owners of the company. Edsel, who succeeded his father as President that year, continued to occupy the position up until his death in 1943, when Henry Ford returned to the driving seat of the company.
Henry Ford resigned as President of Ford Motor Company for the second time during September 1945, and was succeeded by his grandson, Henry Ford II. In the following year Henry was honoured at the American Automotive Golden Jubilee for his major contributions to the motor industry and later that year, the American Petroleum Institute awarded him its first Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to the welfare of humanity.
The end of an era
Henry Ford died at his home, in Fairlane in Dearborn, on 7 April 1947, at 11.40pm. He was 83. At the time of his death, the local Rouge River had flooded causing a local power cut. With kerosene lamps and candles lit, the scene must have been more reminiscent of his birth 83 years earlier.