Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire

By Richard Bak | Go to book overview

4
Who Can't Afford
a Fordmobile?

We must make the cars simple. I mean we must make them so that they
are not too complicated from a mechanical standpoint, so that people can
operate them easily, and with the fewer parts the better.

—Henry Ford, 1903

Auto racing is not something normally associated with Henry Ford. But in the wake of the Detroit Automobile Company debacle it was an activity that not only brought the failed carmaker a measure of fame and respect, it also was directly responsible for attracting backers to his next attempts at manufacturing “the most perfect machine on the market,” including his most enduring venture, the current Ford Motor Company.

Automobile races were part spectacle, part product demonstration. Racing champions such as Alexander Winton, William K. Vanderbilt, and Henry Fournier regularly shared space on the front page of sporting sections with pitching sensation Cy Young, prizefighter “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, and other famous athletes of the day. In the case of Winton, his success on the track brought loads of free publicity to the powerful cars built inside his Cleveland factory.

Racing stirred the blood of most men, though it was the deeppocketed members of the silk-stocking set who were uniquely posi

-38-

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Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • 1: Farmboy, Tinkerer 1
  • 2: The Horse is Gone 18
  • 3: Rearview Mirror Ford the “automobileer” in 1900 32
  • 4: Who Can't Afford a Fordmobile? 38
  • 5: Hunka Tin 51
  • 6: The Five-Dollar Day 64
  • 7: Rearview Mirror the Crystal Palace in 1914 78
  • 8: War on Several Fronts 83
  • 9: Joy Ride 106
  • 10: Farewell, Lizzie 125
  • 11: Chronicle of the Neglected Truth 141
  • 12: The Little Man in the Basement 154
  • 13: Rearview Mirror the Crown Prince at Work and at Play 163
  • 14: Airships and Time Machines 172
  • 15: An Invitation to Organize 188
  • 16: Bullets and Frescoes 200
  • 17: A Matter of Style 210
  • 18: The Overpass 221
  • 19: Rearview Mirror Battling “fordism” in 1937 231
  • 20: A New Social Order 238
  • 21: You Know How Father Is 250
  • 22: Running on Empty 261
  • 23: Rearview Mirror the Last Years of the Flivver King 275
  • Postscript - Ford After Ford 284
  • Notes 293
  • Selected Bibliography 302
  • Picture Credits 305
  • Index 307
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