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1913 Ford Model T

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1913 Ford Model T
Smithsonian Institution

IN CONTEXT

This object appears in the following sections:


Arts and Leisure
Exhibiting Transportation at the Smithsonian — Exhibiting transportation history, 1880-1950

Technology
Making Sense of "Failed" Car Technology — Famous Makes

Technology
Smithsonian Automobile Collection — Car collection, 1910-1919

OTHER VIEWS
1913 Ford Model T
1913 Ford Model T


1913 Ford Model T, arriving at the Smithsonian in 1935. Donor Harvey Carlton Locke drove the Model T to the Smithsonian from his home in New York. He advertised his trip by putting this sign on the back of the automobile.
1913 Ford Model T, arriving at the Smithsonian in 1935. Donor Harvey Carlton Locke drove the Model T to the Smithsonian from his home in New York. He advertised his trip by putting this sign on the back of the automobile.


The driver's controls in the 1913 Ford Model T
The driver's controls in the 1913 Ford Model T

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Ford Model T coupe


Ford roadster


Ford Model A automobile


Ford Country Squire station wagon


Ford Mustang automobile


Ford Model T
Catalog #: 311,052, Accession #: 120,103
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
The Smithsonian collected this 1913 Model T to illustrate the technological development of the automobile and to make sure that the collections included an example of the popular, mass-marketed, mass-produced “flivver.” When Harvey Carlton Locke offered his 1913 Model T to the institution, curator Frank Taylor wrote to Dr. Alexander Wetmore, Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian, “The photograph taken in 1930 shows the machine to be remarkably well preserved and practically free of accessories. I would be inclined to accept this car except that you stated that you would prefer to receive one from Mr. Ford himself.” Despite this initial hesitancy, the institution accepted Locke's offer and accessioned the vehicle in 1935. The museum's Model T was purchased new for $600 in Rochester, N.Y., in 1913. It was driven for the next 22 years. After all that time, Harvey Carlton Locke—the son of the original purchaser—was emotionally attached to his car: “I wish to see her,” he wrote to the Smithsonian, “in some museum where she will be looked after as I have done all these years.”
Details
Date Made:
1913
Dates Used:
1913 - 1935
Credit:
Gift of Harvey Carlton Locke
History

When Henry Ford entered the car business in the late nineteenth century, he was one of a slew of inventors and entrepreneurs trying to break into the business. In the 1900s, there were hundreds of small companies making small numbers of cars for rich Americans. While many of these early companies failed, the Ford Motor Co. dominated the U.S. automobile market. More than 15 million Model T’s were sold during the car's years of production (1908-27), making it the most popular automobile of the time.

The Model T was cheap by comparison to other early automobiles, and that fact, coupled with its availability and its relative dependability, made motoring an option for many people who had initially been priced out of the market. The price and quantity of vehicles Ford produced the company's adoption of the moving assembly line and mass production techniques. The company’s well-publicized success went on to influence the ways large American manufacturers (and companies overseas) produced goods of all kinds in the twentieth century.

Still, though Ford was a production leader, it was not an innovative marketer. In the late 1920s, General Motors—afraid that the automobile market was hitting saturation point—introduced the annual model change, designed to encourage buyers to regularly trade in their cars for new ones. The strategy was successful and General Motors’ sales soared as Ford’s plummeted. Ford stopped producing Model T’s in 1927.


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