1903 Ford Model A

We're quickly approaching the 150th anniversary of Henry Ford's birth, and the company he founded is celebrating in a number of ways. Great-grandson Bill Ford Jr. did his part by purchasing the oldest known Ford vehicle, a 1903 Model A, and returning it to its birthplace.

While the Model A was purchased at auction back in October, the red Rear Entry Tonneau just recently received an official unveil at an employee event. Ford partnered with the MotorCities National Heritage Area and the Henry Ford Heritage Association to create a year-long calendar of events celebrating Henry Ford and his company.

This particular Model A is car number 3, chassis number 30. Prior to rejoining the Ford family, it had enjoyed just five owners in its 109-year history. Originally sold to a butter maker from Iowa for the princely sum of $850, the Model A was sold to a Swiss Ford dealer in 1961. The dealer displayed his purchase in the Ford European Center in Cologne, Germany until 2001, when it was finally sold to John O'Quinn in 2007 before Ford Jr. took possession this year.

Check out the both press releases below, along with a full schedule of the planned celebrations. You can also head to the anniversary mini site for more news.
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Model A Helped Launch Ford Motor Company on the Road to Putting the World on Wheels

Model A was the first product of Ford Motor Company, which launched June 16, 1903
With cash reserves almost gone, three sales of the Model A the next month saved the company
Model A had a two-cylinder engine producing 8 horsepower and could achieve speeds of up to 30 mph


DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 11, 2012 – It's no coincidence that a car named the Model A started the road to success for Ford Motor Company in 1903.

Though that road – mirroring those of the time – was anything but smooth.

Henry Ford founded Ford Motor Company on June 16, 1903. One month later, his cash reserves were less than $250.

In short, the company needed a doctor. Interestingly enough, Dr. E. Pfennig of Chicago was one of three customers who came to the rescue.

A much-needed cash infusion of $1,320 arrived on July 13, 1903, keeping Ford Motor Company afloat. This amount included Dr. Pfennig's full payment and deposits from the two other customers.

Dr. Pfennig's Model A was shipped to him on July 28, 1903, from the plant on Mack Avenue. The 1903 Ford Model A had a two-cylinder engine producing 8 horsepower and displacing 100 cubic inches. It could reach 30 mph on smooth roads, which were rare.

By contrast, the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 has an eight-cylinder engine displacing 355 cubic inches and can attain a top speed of more than 200 mph.

Only one of the three Model A cars sold on July 13, 1903, remains. Executive Chairman Bill Ford recently purchased it at auction. The announcement of the purchase and its return to the Ford family kicked off the yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henry Ford.

Car No. 3 and chassis No. 30
Bill Ford's 1903 Model A is a red Rear Entry Tonneau, car No. 3 and chassis No. 30. Prior to him acquiring it, the vehicle had only five previous owners in its 109-year existence. The car was bought initially by Herbert L. McNary, a butter maker from Britt, Iowa. Records show that McNary put down a $170 deposit on the $850 car.

Harry E. Burd, a collector, was the next owner. His research led him to believe this example was car No. 3 and chassis No. 30. He sold it in 1961 to a Swiss Ford dealer, who displayed the Model A in Cologne, Germany, at Ford's European Center.

Burd then bought back the Model A in 2001. It was purchased by John O'Quinn in 2007, who was the final owner before Bill Ford.

The 1903 Model A sits on a wheelbase of 72 inches and weighs about 1,250 pounds. About 1,700 were produced over 15 months. It was praised in the August 1903 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal, which reported the following:

When in motion there is a light purring of the gear to be heard if one listens for it; there is absolutely no vibration to be felt; the riding is perfectly smooth and agreeable.

The wagon is, of course, under entire control, and is extremely handy in a crowded street, and, taken all in all, this latest of American wagons offered leaves very little indeed to be desired.

There will undoubtedly be advances in the art, but there will never be any wagon much more comfortable for its passengers than the Ford, and the machine work is excellent, everything being finished and secured in a workmanlike manner.

The Ford Company finishes the bodies itself, and the external appearance is extremely good.


World's Oldest Ford Vehicle Returns Home to Kick Off Henry Ford 150th Celebration in 2013

Oldest surviving Ford production car, a 1903 Model A, recently purchased at auction by Bill Ford; car unveiled as part of an employee event to kick off the 150th anniversary celebration of Henry Ford's birth
Community picnic, special program at Maker Faire are key events leading up to the 150th birthday of Henry Ford on July 30, 2013
New dedicated website, www.henryford150.com, launches to host an interactive timeline of Ford's life, a calendar of activities and information, and efforts to preserve Ford's legacy

Please visit the Henry Ford 150th mini-site for more information about this event as well as others throughout 2013.

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 11, 2012 – A key part of Ford Motor Company's heritage returns home as a Model A built in 1903 is again with the Ford family, kicking off the yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of company founder Henry Ford.

Considered the oldest surviving Ford vehicle, the 1903 Model A was unveiled today to Ford Motor Company employees by Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who purchased the vehicle at an auction in October.

"The timing was perfect to bring this key part of Ford heritage back to the family as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of my great-grandfather's birth and his vision to improve people's lives by making cars affordable for the average family," said Bill Ford. "His vision to build cars that are reasonably priced, reliable and efficient still resonates and defines our vision today as well."

MotorCities National Heritage Area and the Henry Ford Heritage Association teamed up with more than 30 Henry Ford-related collaborators to coordinate the yearlong celebration of events. These activities, highlighting Ford's legacy, contributions and influence, include tours, educational programming, dramatic re-enactments, lectures, integration and special events at auto shows and more.

A dedicated website, www.henryford150.com, also is launching today that includes an interactive timeline of Ford's life, tours, a calendar of 2013 events and information about efforts to preserve Henry Ford's heritage.

Henry Ford's 150th legacy will be celebrated in 2013 through a variety of events. Some of these include:

Coming Together: A Celebration of Henry Ford – July 27, 2013, The Henry Ford Estate Fair Lane, Dearborn, Mich. This free community event will bring Henry Ford to "life" and feature many of his little-known interests and contributions.

Maker Faire – July 27-28, The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Mich. A two-day, family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. This year's celebration of the Maker movement will include a special program to recognize innovators.

Discovering Henry Ford shows at The Henry Ford– April-December. A presenter-facilitated multimedia program using a large touch screen monitor to access digital assets (movies, photos) in themed 20-minute shows (Henry Ford the Tinkerer, Henry Ford and the Model T).

Henry's T – Dramatic presentation at Greenfield Village– May-August. Visitors will meet Henry Ford in this interactive 15-minute play and hear how he was inspired to build the world's universal car. Guests also will find out why the Model T was so revolutionary and how Henry Ford's visionary thinking and hard work enabled him to put the world on wheels.

The role of the Model A

The Model A returning home played a pivotal role in Ford Motor Company history.

In July 1903, Henry Ford faced a daunting situation: The company's cash balance stood at less than $250. A much-needed cash infusion arrived on July 13, 1903: One full payment and two deposits totaling $1,320 for three Model A cars kept Ford Motor Company afloat.

The car revealed today is a red 1903 Model A Rear Entry Tonneau. It is believed to be car No. 3, chassis No. 30, and the lone survivor of the group of three Model A cars sold on that day.
The vehicle was auctioned through RM Auctions in October in Hershey, Pa.

"The Model A helped keep our company going during a difficult time and enabled my great-grandfather to continue pursuing his vision of putting the world on wheels," said Bill Ford. "We look forward to carrying that same spirit of innovation forward as we develop new technologies for safer, cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles."