A 3D Video Tour of Ford’s Piquette Avenue Factory – Where The Model T Was Born – Part 4

Start the YouTube 3D video player. Click on the 3D icon in the menu bar to select 2D or your choice of stereo 3D formats.

Finishing up our look at the Piquette Avenue “T-Plex” museum, it starts with one of the first car models that Ford Motor Company made, a  1903 Model A Tonneau. It’s the same model as the 1903 Model A, the oldest existing Ford known, that Bill Ford Jr., chairman of FoMoCo, recently bought at auction and displayed at the NAIAS in January. In the early years of the Ford company, Henry Ford made two different kinds of cars, smaller cars with two cylinder horizontally opposed engines that were located in the middle of the car under the seat, like the Model A, C and F, and larger, more powerful cars with what was becoming the conventional layout with an inline four cylinder mounted up front, like the Model B and Model K. The Model K was expensive for a Ford and it sold relatively poorly. Alexander Malcomson, who had pushed Ford to go upmarket, left the company, allowing Ford to pursue his idea of an inexpensive car that the average person could afford. The next car after the Model K that Ford introduced was the Model N. The Model N replaced the Model F, it was lightweight but it had a conventional layout. At a price of $500, Ford sold about 7,000 Model N cars from 1906 to 1908. It was Ford’s most successful car yet, selling more than all previous models combined. It also set the model for what became the Model T. In addition to the Model A, in the video there’s a 1904 Model C,  a Model N and a Model S. The S was, no surprise, the direct predecessor of the Model T. It was a development of the Model N. Also in the video is a 1911 Brush Runabout, perhaps the Model T’s closest competitor. Ford fanboys of the day touted the T’s vanadium steel axles and mocked the Brush’s wooden components saying that the Brush Runabout had a “wooden body, wooden axleswooden wheels, and wooden run.” While the Model T may have been made of superior materials, the Brush was a bit more sophisticated mechanically than the Ford car with coil springs at all four corners and shock absorbers as well. The Brush company became part of the United States Motor Company, an attempt by a number of independent car makers to compete with Billy Durant’s General Motors. That attempt failed in 1913, but the assets were bought by William Flanders, who reorganized them as the Maxwell Motor Company. Flanders had earlier run production at the Ford Piquette factory, and was a principal of the E.M.F. company, which became absorbed by Studebaker and also produced cars under the Flanders brand. Flanders had been brought into the United States Motor Company by Benjamin Briscoe, who owned the Maxwell brand and also coincidentally had helped start Buick. Maxwell would eventually be used by Walter Chrysler as the basis for creating the Chrysler Corp. Since Buick was the foundation of General Motors, that means that Benjamin Briscoe helped start two of the Big 3 Detroit automakers.

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