In the mid 1920’s Ford customers made it clear that the Model T had run its course and that they were in the market for something new. Ford’s competitors, especially General Motors, had caught up with Ford’s mass production system and offered more powerful engines, new convenience features, an array of design options and an electric starter. These improvements were originally seen to Ford as unnecessary, but were gradually becoming the new standard in the eyes of the consumer. Despite this, Henry Ford believed that the Model T was still the best option for those living in rural areas and that there was no need for a new car, but after offering lower prices and updating the Model T with some of these new options, it was clear that it was time for a completely new vehicle. So In late 1926, Ford directed his engineers to begin working on a new Ford car, the Model A.
The Model A was developed from the ground up, carrying no parts from the Model T with many describing it as a “downsized Lincoln”. It was lower and sleeker and featured beautiful bodylines that were the direct influence of Edsel Ford’s styling ideas. Seven body types were offered at launch, including Sport Coupe, Coupe, Roadster, Phaeton, Tudor sedan, Fordor sedan, and truck, and buyers could choose from four colors (Niagara Blue, Arabian Sand, Dawn Gray and Gun Metal Blue). This was also the first Ford car to feature the iconic blue oval Ford logo and the first car to be manufactured at the new Rouge manufacturing complex.
In addition to its elegant styling, it was equipped with an upgraded four cylinder engine that was more powerful and smoother than the one in the Model T and was capable of reaching speeds of 55 to 60 mph. It also came with a Triplex shatterproof safety windshield and hydraulic shocks, both a first for Ford and unheard of for a vehicle at its low price point.
Introduced to the public on December 2 1927, the 1928 Ford Model A was an immediate sensation. Around 10 million people viewed the vehicle in the first week, with lines at the dealerships all across the country. The crowds gathered in such numbers that cities had to send local police officers to help direct traffic around those who went to see the new car. While demand and enthusiasm around the Model A was high, initially production was slow until the middle of 1929 when the new factory was up to full capacity. The Rouge factory produced 9,000 units a day and helped Ford manufacture over 4.8 million units of the Model A.
The Model A was well represented in the media over the years, with several Model A’s obtaining particular fame. Including the “Mean Green Machine”, a green and black 1931 Tudor sedan that has been the staple of the University of North Texas football games and special events since 1974 as well as the “Ramblin Wreck”, a 1930 sport coupe that is the official mascot for the Georgia Institute of Technology. The Model A has also been featured in a number of films including King Kong and HighwayMen.
The Model A was important for the Ford Motor Company and Henry Ford’s legacy as it helped transition Ford from a pioneer to a modern automaker and helped inspire generations of collectors and hot rodders around the world.