How did Ford Model A takes over MODEL T in 1931?
There was no question about it: Ford’s fabulous Model T was on the way out. Sales slipped noticeably in 1926. Price cuts, the usual medicine in such cases, had no effect. Competitive cars were getting better and cheaper all the time. Many of them were more in line with the new public taste than was the Model T. The people of the prosperous Twenties had had their fill of pure utility and were ready for a larger measure of comfort and beauty. The Ford car simply had not kept up with America’s rising standard of living.
Henry Ford was initially incredulous, not to mention resentful. His theory was that dealers, not his car, were to blame for the decline in sales. However, the invincible old pragmatist finally came to terms with reality. The result was a massive effort to design a new car to succeed the Model T, as well as the rearrangement and retooling of the Ford plants where it would be produced. Production of the Model T ceased at the end of May 1927, a few days after the 15 millionth car had come off the assembly line.
The most extraordinary aspect of Ford’s plunge into the future was that his old car expired before his new car had been born. No matter what vehicle he might come up with, no one knew how it would be powered because no plan for an engine existed. Nevertheless, movement in the direction of a totally new car forged ahead. Henry Ford’s basic concept was for a car that would deliver speed, power and comfort –suited to the improved roads and the quickened pace life of that day. It would be lower than the T, longer, wider, more pleasing in its proportions, available in a variety of models and an assortment of colors.
And it would be called after the first car made by Ford Motor Company back in 1903– the Model A.
Months were required to reach agreement on the engine design. The one lastly adopted was a 4-cylinder, 200-cubic-inch, L-head engine, just a little larger than that of the T but establishing 40 horsepower at 2,200 revolutions per minute. This new engine had aluminum alloy pistons and cylinder head, 3-bearing counterbalanced crankshaft, and battery supplier ignition. Model T’s outdated planetary transmission gave way to a 3-speed moving gear type with gears of heat-treated chromium steel; clutch and transmission were duplicates in mini of those of the Lincoln.
The wheelbase of the new Model A was 103.5 inches, the tread was 56 inches, and roadway clearance 9.5 inches. The steel body was reduced to minimize the car’s height. Its weight was greater than that of the T, ranging from 2,000 to 2,500 pounds. A 10-gallon gas tank was an important part of the cowl. The radiator shell was contoured like that of the Lincoln, and the lines of the vehicle in general recommended those of its abundant relative– adequately so that the Model A was typically called “the baby Lincoln.” Body colors were Niagra Blue, Arabian Sand, Dawn Gray, and Gunmetal Blue, with the Four-door Sedan being provided in Balsam Green, Copra Drab, Rose Beige, and Andalusite Blue– all a heady change from the monochromatic Model T, readily available only in black.
Wire wheels with steel spokes could be had in a contrasting color. They were fitted with balloon tires and internal-expanding mechanical brakes all around. Unprecedented functions on the brand-new Model A were hydraulic shock absorbers and shatterproof glass windshield, bumpers, automatic windshield wipers, tilt-beam headlights, and a Bendix self-starter.
Like its bro, The little A could go anywhere and do anything on 20 miles to the gallon however with greater safety and far remarkable comfort for those aboard. Yet it was provided at prices extremely close to those of the Model T. For example, the Phaeton was sold for $395.00 and the Tudor Sedan sold for $495.00.
To produce a vehicle put together from 5,580 parts that were almost all entirely brand-new, meant retooling on an unmatched scale. According to one historian, a changeover of this scope and seriousness was, at the time, “unidentified in American commercial history.” And yet, the change was accomplished. Highland Park’s last assembly line was transferred to the Rouge in September 1927. Machine tools of radical new design were laid in by the thousands; there were 53,000 at the Rouge by the time production of the Model A began. Factory area amounting to 1.5 million square feet was added. Electrical welding of necessary parts such as the rear end assembly was established to change the bolting of significant sub-assemblies. This new practice ultimately became universal in the auto industry.
So significant was the demand for parts that Ford needed to back away from his policy of total self-sufficiency and buy from outside manufacturers such aspects as wheels, body panels, piston rings, and some parts such as pumps and suppliers that the company had never ever made.
During the 5 months in between the discontinuance of Model T and delivery of the first Model A, 400,000 orders had actually piled up for a new vehicle that no single customer had actually even seen. The lag between vehicles available and orders on hand had installed to 800,000 by the spring of 1928.
Ford made nearly 2 million Model A’s in 1929. But Black Thursday came on October 24 th of that year, introducing the Great Depression, and from that time on it was downhill all the way. In 1931, sales dropped to 620,000 units. Production of Model A was shut down in August, and early the following year, the “brand-new order” took control of in the form of the radically various Ford V-8. By that time well over 20 million Fords had been produced, and nearly 5 countless these had been the fantastic little Model A’s.
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