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Any colour so long as it's black Designing the Model T Ford 1906-1908 by John Duncan

Celebrating 100 years of the Model T

Do you know why Ford insisted on Black?

Black paint dried two whole days quicker than any other colour and with production fully stretched Ford needed all the time he could get.

Henry Ford's design of the Model T automobile between 1906 and 1908 was an extraordinary achievement. The industry was, at the time, still in an experimental phase and yet this design lasted without major change for nearly two decades. More than 15 million Model Ts were built: performance and price gave the car an edge. In this sense they were "popular", yet owners were apologetic about owning one. Mr Ford had the audacity to provide the car people needed, not the car they wanted.

The reasons for the car's success can be found in the details of the mechanical design. There is a vast technical literature available for the expert or the enthusiast and there are 20,000 Model Ts still on the road. This book provides a concise and fresh look at the design one hundred years later. It is not an engineering treatise or an owner's manual; the aim is to get inside the mind of Henry Ford and to explain the design features that accounted for the car's success and to do so in a way that will appeal to anyone who would like to know why it has generated so much enthusiasm. The story is as much about people as it is about nuts and bolts. The character of the engineer and his design are interwoven to a surprising degree, and the singular personality of Mr Ford is shown to be reflected in his car.

Authors Note:

This is for people who know that the Model T is the most successful car the world has ever seen and are curious as to why this should have been. The key to this success lay in the mechanical details of the design of the car; we know that is was manufactured in vast quantities using revolutionary techniques of mass production and that the price was remarkably low but these were all a consequence of the design


John Duncan was born in Adelaide and educated in Victoria. He was an engineer in industry in the UK, USA and Australia until 1961, before moving to Manchester, UK, where he became a Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology in 1968. In 1970 he was appointed Professor at McMaster University, Ontario. In 1986 he joined the University of Auckland as Head of Mechanical Engineering. His research has been in metal forming and his academic direction in the education of students in mechanical design. Since retirement his life has been divided between research with groups at the University of Michigan and Deakin University and life on a small farm near Auckland.

Code No. 012852, 128 pages, ISBN 9781877437151, $30.00

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