The Henry Ford biography: An early passion for machinery

Automobile pioneer Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863, on his father’s successful farm near Dearborn, Michigan, USA. Henry was a poor scholar, preferring to spend his time fixing watches and building steam engines. He left school at age fifteen and, with no interest in farming, he decided to pursue his passion for working with mechanical things. Henry Ford’s determined pursuit of his dream is one of his most outstanding achievements.

The Henry Ford biography: Pursuing his dream

Henry moved to Detroit in 1879 and started working as an apprentice in a machine shop during the day and repairing watches at night to supplement his small income. He spent the next three years moving to jobs where he could learn more about machines. Henry’s father tried to persuade him to become a farmer and offered him forty acres of land, on condition that he gave up working with machinery. Henry accepted the offer, but he soon built a workshop on the property.

Henry married Clara Bryant and in 1891 started working for the Edison Electric Illuminating Company in Detroit and soon became their Chief Engineer. In his spare time Henry built his first self-propelled vehicle, powered by an internal combustion engine. Driven by two cylinders, mounted on bicycle wheels and with no reverse gear, his “Quadricycle” was much lighter than other American vehicles of that time.

Henry left his job to start his own automobile company. He tried twice, but both attempts failed. However, he did gain recognition for building winning racing cars, which resulted in offers of much needed financial backing, and in 1903 the Ford Motor Company was born. Ford’s “Model A” car and various improved models were some of his most outstanding achievements and the company became hugely successful.

Henry’s vision was to manufacture an inexpensive car for all Americans and, by 1909, he made only one type of car – the “Model T” or “Tin Lizzie” which was tough, easy to drive, economical and only available in black. Over forty thousand cars were produced annually and by 1922 half the cars in America were “Model Ts” priced at around $269. The “Model T” was the best of Henry Ford’s most outstanding achievements – he had ultimately realised his dream.

The Henry Ford biography: Final years

Henry Ford was a controversial figure during the war years for his pacifist stance – until after the attack on Pearl Harbor when his company became a major supplier of airplanes, engines and vehicles to the US military.

Henry Ford died at age 83 on April 7, 1947, in Dearborn and his grandson, Henry Ford II, continued to run the company.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”  ― Henry Ford