DEARBORN - Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford unveiled a very special automobile at World Headquarters Tuesday to symbolically kick off the anniversary of his great-grandfather Henry Ford’s 150th birthday, which will be celebrated through a variety of events in 2013.
The car, a bright red 1903 Model A, is one in a group of the first three vehicles sold by Ford Motor Company. Ford purchased it at an auction earlier this year.
“There were three vehicles sold on that day in July of 1903, and because it was one of three it’s almost certain that Henry Ford personally worked on it and probably loaded it to be delivered,” said Ford, addressing the more than 350 employees gathered at World Headquarters for the event.
“What’s also interesting and what really made me decide I had to get this vehicle was that Henry Ford only had $250 left at the company and the creditors were at the door, and if he hadn’t sold these vehicles, Ford Motor Company wouldn’t have been able to open its doors for another week,” he said.
Ford drew similarities between the way Henry Ford ran the company in the early 1900s and the way Ford Motor Company operates today.
“Henry Ford believed strongly in finding creative, inventive ways to improve people’s lives. He used his ingenuity to make the world a better place, and I believe that making the world a better place is what also drives Ford today,” he said.
Ford said that because Henry Ford touched so many people and organizations throughout his life, celebrating his legacy on one day “just wasn’t going to be enough.”
“Instead we’ve planned a number of events throughout the year, all designed to encourage celebration, education and inspiration,” he said.
MotorCities National Heritage Area and the Henry Ford Heritage Association teamed up with more than 30 Henry Ford-related collaborators to coordinate the year-long celebration of events. These activities, highlighting Ford’s legacy, contributions and influence, include tours, educational programming, dramatic re-enactments, lectures, integration and special events at auto shows and more. Additional partners include The Henry Ford museum, The Henry Ford Estate and Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, and the Ford Motor Company Fund.
The crowd assembled at World Headquarters “oohed” and “aahed” when Ford pulled the cover off of the historic vehicle.
“I’m a huge history buff and one of the greatest privileges of working at Ford Motor Company is the family history and just being a part of that,” said Valinda Vincent, Ford Finance, who recently celebrated her 35th anniversary with the company. “For Bill Ford to share that special car with us just tells you the love that the whole family has for not only the company but for their employees.”
That sentiment was shared by Troy Rubingh, who works in Ford’s General Auditor’s Office.
“I just joined Ford in the last year-and-a-half. I came here because of the legacy,” he said. “There are so few companies in the U.S. that are left that have this type of family ownership involvement, and I always wanted to be a part of that. I think the car is awesome and the fact that we’re celebrating 150 years is also awesome.”
For more information about Henry Ford’s life and a calendar of events planned for 2013, please visit www.henryford150.com. The new website includes an interactive timeline of Ford’s life, tours, a calendar of 2013 events and information about efforts to preserve Henry Ford’s heritage.