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Ford radiator emblem
Catalog #: 325,528, Accession #: 260,303
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
Henry Ford built his first experimental car in a workshop behind his house in 1896. For several years he built experimental and racing cars before producing the Model N in 1906, which sold for $500 and undercut Oldsmobile's low-priced market. This led to the Model T, or Tin Lizzie, that became the symbol of mass production. It was introduced in 1909 priced at $850, but by the time it was discontinued in 1927 it was selling for $260. The Model T hit its production peak in 1923 with more than 2 million cars manufactured. Ford survived the Great Depression and became one of the Big Three U.S. auto makers to dominate the market.
Physical Description

Dimensions (in mm): 3.8 L x 7.6 W x .9 D

Inscriptions: Ford

Materials: metal

Colors: blue, silver

Dates Used:
1903 - present
Detroit, Michigan
Gift of Hubert G. Larson
Radiator emblems were colorful metal plates with a manufacturer's name or logo that attached to the radiators of early automobiles. Varying in shape and size, but never more than a few inches across, the emblems were small branding devices. As vehicles became more popular in a national market, people began associating the company name and logo on different vehicle models with a specific manufacturer. Radiator emblems sometimes indicated the type of engine or place of manufacturing. Other times they appealed directly to a driver's sense of style and class by using iconic images or a catchy motto.
Related People, Places, and Events
Hubert G. Larson
In 1964 Hubert G. Larson donated a collection of 278 radiator emblems to the Smithsonian.

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