Thursday, July 24, 2008

100 years of Ford

(Image from Mark Gerber. If you haven't read this, please do!)

File this under dubious celebrations:

From Samizdata

100 years of a car
Johnathan Pearce (London)

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Ford Model-T car, the vehicle that changed the face of the automobile business, helping to put the four-wheeled auto within reach of a vast swathe of the American population. Ford's mass-production techniques may not have been totally original, since one can argue that some of the features of mass production used had been employed in parts of the industrialised world before. But the factories that churned out these cars were probably the most famous forms of mass-production in their time, and encouraged a host of imitators.

Here's a nifty slide-show on the anniversary.

Henry Ford adapted his assembly line from the existing factories that turned out bicycles. And while it's true that he offered his workers a high wage, he was adamantly opposed to unions and not averse to using force to keep them out of his factories. The Wiki entry shows a man of contradictions.

I view this as a dubious celebration because the popularization of the private automobile lead to so many less-than-desirable changes in our way of life, our personal lives, and our cities. We work to afford a car in order to get to work. Don't misunderstand, I'm not an adocate who hates and fears cars and their drivers. I'm realistic enough to concede that there are some benefits to motorized travel, and also realistic enough to see that there are pitfalls as well.



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