Ford opens its archive of images to the world

Ford opens up its image archive – Click above for high-res image gallery

The year 2011 marks Ford's 108th year in business. Over the course of its long history, the automaker has collected millions of images. Most of these images are stored in boxes, away from prying eyes... but that is about to change. Ford is launching a brand new site that will give users access to thousands of these archival images. currently has over 5,000 images available to be licensed. The site adds hundreds more every week and is shooting to have 10,000 available by January of 2012. The seemingly endless galleries of images cover everything from key products and personnel to historic motorsports shots and all Ford vehicles through the ages.

The site offers more than just images, however, with a wide range of signs and artwork also offered. Limited-edition photos of cars like the Ford GT and Shelby GT500 are available and signed by Dan Gurney and Carroll Shelby respectively.

If you're a Blue Oval fan, this may become your new favorite web site. There's enough material here to decorate your office, home and garage. All those boxes of stored photos mean there's plenty more where these came from. Check out the gallery below for a few examples of what Ford will offer and be sure to read the full press-release waiting after the jump.

[Source: Ford]
Show full PR text
-More Than 5,000 Images Showcasing the Life Span of Ford Motor Company Now Licensed and Available for Sale
-More than 5,000 images already available on site that launched in January,; target is for nearly 10,000 images to be available by 2012
-Hundreds of images being added every week to site that is especially popular among car enthusiasts, dealers and just about anyone else with a connection to Ford
-Millions of images in thousands of boxes ensure there will never be a shortage of new material available to the public

DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 4, 2011 – Thousands of images dating to the earliest days of Ford Motor Company are being hauled out of the Ford archives and licensed for sale for the first time. features more than 5,000 images for sale including commemorative and limited-edition prints, vintage signs and advertisements. The site launched in January.

Hundreds of more images are being added weekly with another 5,000 to be added by the end of 2011, said Betsy McKelvey, marketing manager, Global Brand Licensing.

The purpose is to create brand awareness and preserve the Ford legacy using the millions of existing images in the archives.

"The entire world of Ford culture is here," said Dean Weber, manager, Ford Archives. "These images represent the very special place Ford has in not only American history but world history."

The new website receives about 500 visitors daily. Car enthusiasts and dealers are some of the biggest early customers, McKelvey noted.

"The Ford brand is one that almost everyone can identify with in some way," said McKelvey. "This website gives people a way to strengthen that identification." is managed by Rick Weedn, an official Ford licensee, whose company licenses and sells archival images for other companies as well, including Harley-Davidson Inc. and The Henry Ford.

How it works
There are millions of photos contained within the roughly 16,000 boxes, 75 file cabinets and hundreds of CDs at Ford Archives in Dearborn, Mich., Weber said. For preservation purposes, the oldest images are stored in coolers using guidelines recommended by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Weber and his team have been poring through the files to find the best images to offer.

The subjects of the images vary. There are portraits and photographs from press releases, events, factories, motorsports and product development, just to name a few.

"There is a ripple effect that started with Henry Ford's vision that continues to this day," said Weedn. "These images tell that story and let people identify with what Ford really is."

Once Weber and his team find images that support the purpose of, digital versions are created through a scanning process. More than 15,000 images have been identified in the last six months. Weber said that having digital versions of the images is another reason Ford moved forward with

Weber then sends the images to Weedn, who handles marketing, sales and production. The Ford marketing team must give final approval of what and how Ford images are put up for sale. Weedn sets the prices, which start at $24.99.

McKelvey said one of the most popular sellers so far has been a reprint of the ad that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1925. The ad was titled "Opening the Highways to All Mankind" and featured images that reflect the company's goal of making safe and efficient transportation accessible to all. Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally cited the ad at the 2011 North American International Auto Show.

In addition to prints such as the 1925 ad, the site has another offering.

Available for purchase are custom-made vintage-style wood signs. For example, a newer car dealer could get a sign made to look like it has been in business for decades. Weedn said dealers love the signs.

In fact, dealers are some of the biggest customers, Weedn said, because they are buying images to give away to customers or decorate showrooms. The "Opening Highways to All Mankind" reprint is being sold for half price, $24.99, at the Ford display during the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention & Expo, Feb. 5-7, in San Francisco. will continue adding new items to the site, McKelvey said, particularly images of products that are not yet represented and images from other information repositories around the world so that truly reflects Ford's global presence.

Share This Photo X