Henry Ford’s First Car
26 artifacts in this set
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Employees of Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit, Including Henry Ford, circa 1893
This photograph shows Henry Ford, third from the right in the top row, with a mustache and coveralls. By early 1894, Ford would be promoted to chief engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. Some of his coworkers -- including George Cato and Jim Bishop, pictured here -- helped Henry build his first horseless carriage, the Quadricycle.
Henry Ford with Co-Worker at Edison Illuminating Company, Detroit, Michigan, 1896
In 1891, Henry Ford left his small lumber business to work as a night engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. By early 1894, he was promoted to chief engineer. The same year he posed for this photograph, Ford completed his first horseless carriage, the Quadricycle, with the help of some of his coworkers.
Ed "Spider" Huff at Work at Edison Illuminating Company, Detroit, Michigan, circa 1896
Ed "Spider" Huff, seen in this photograph taken about 1896, collaborated with Henry Ford on his early automotive efforts. Huff worked with Ford at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit.
58 Bagley Avenue Shed at Its Original Site, Detroit, Michigan, circa 1908
This shed sat behind a house at 58 Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, where Henry and Clara Ford lived for 3-1/2 years. Henry and friends built the Quadricycle, Ford's first automobile, in the shed in 1896. Many years later, Ford had the building reconstructed in Greenfield Village. Photographs of the original building and site helped ensure the replica's accuracy.
Tap and Die Set Used by Henry Ford, 1882
Tap and die set
This tap and die set was used by Henry Ford when building the Quadricycle. Taps and dies are cutting tools used to create screw threads.
Receipt Showing Purchase of Bicycle Chain for Henry Ford's Quadricycle, May 28, 1896
Receipt (Financial record)
Clara Ford saved this 1896 receipt. The purchase included 10 feet of bicycle chain -- possibly the chain Henry used in the drivetrain of his Quadricycle.
Henry and Clara Ford in 1896 with Quadricycle, by Norman Rockwell, 1951-1952
Oil painting (Visual work)
In this painting Norman Rockwell gives us an idealized view of Henry Ford building his first automobile in 1896. In a small brick shed behind the Fords' rented home on Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Henry fine tunes a part of the car while his wife Clara looks on, darning socks. The reality was somewhat different. Henry built the little car with the aid of several friends, and much of the work was done in a shop near Ford's place of work, an...
"American Machinist," Bound Volume, January 3-December 26, 1895
Henry Ford and other inventors kept up-to-date on the latest automotive developments with magazines like American Machinist. Ford's Quadricycle engine was based on the one in this 1895 issue.
1896 Ford Quadricycle Runabout, First Car Built by Henry Ford
The Quadricycle was Henry Ford's first attempt to build a gasoline-powered automobile. It utilized commonly available materials: angle iron for the frame, a leather belt and chain drive for the transmission, and a buggy seat. Ford had to devise his own ignition system. He sold his Quadricycle for $200, then used the money to build his second car.
Henry Ford Driving the Quadricycle near Cass Park in Detroit, 1896
This photograph shows Henry Ford, age 33, with his Quadricycle in Detroit in the fall of 1896. He built his first gasoline powered vehicle with help from some friends in a shed behind a house he and his wife, Clara, rented.
Henry Ford Driving 1896 Quadricycle in New York City, 1910
Henry Ford took the 1896 Quadricycle, his first automobile, to New York City as evidence in his legal appeal against the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers. ALAM claimed that its patent required automakers to pay royalties on each gasoline-powered car made, and a lower court agreed. But Ford won his appeal in 1911 and ALAM's royalty system was dismantled.
Henry Ford and Clara Ford at Fair Lane in the 1896 Quadricycle, 1918
The 1896 Quadricycle, the first automobile that Henry Ford built, came to symbolize all the later success achieved by Mr. Ford and Ford Motor Company. The little car always had a place of honor in the garage at Fair Lane, Henry and Clara Ford's estate in Dearborn. Mr. Ford regularly brought the Quadricycle out for special occasions and publicity photographs.
Henry Ford with Ten-Millionth Ford Model T and 1896 Quadricycle, 1924
In June 1924, the ten-millionth Ford automobile--a Model T, of course--rolled off the assembly line. Ford sent this vehicle on a cross-country tour along the Lincoln Highway promoting the company. This photo shows Henry Ford standing between his factory-made 10-millionth vehicle and his 1896 Quadricycle--the first car Henry made.
Henry Ford and Edsel Ford with 15 Millionth Ford Model T and 1896 Quadricycle, May 26, 1927
After Edsel and Henry Ford drove the fifteen-millionth Model T out of the Highland Park Plant, they posed with it alongside Henry's first car, the Quadricycle. The Quadricycle had started it all and the Model T had changed the world, but by 1927, both had become obsolete. Ford Motor Company shifted its focus toward production of the new Model A.
Bagley Avenue Workshop
Workshop (Work space)
Henry Ford transformed the storage shed behind his family's rented duplex at 58 Bagley Avenue in Detroit into a workshop. Here, in 1896, he built his first car -- the "Quadricycle." In 1933, Ford reconstructed the shed in Greenfield Village. The original shed had been torn down, so he reportedly used bricks from a wall of the Bagley Avenue residence instead.
Interior of Bagley Avenue Workshop in Greenfield Village, 1935
Henry Ford reconstructed the Bagley Avenue Workshop, the shed behind the duplex house at 58 Bagley where he and Clara had lived, in Greenfield Village in 1933. Ford built the 1896 Quadricycle, his first automobile, in the original shed. Photos of the original building and site guided the reconstruction. Bricks from the actual Bagley house reportedly were used in the replica shed.
Group Standing with Quadricycle, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934
Chicago's 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition used the theme of progress to encourage optimism during the depression. Ford Motor Company's popular exhibition at the fair included the century room, where fairgoers found a nineteenth-century machine shop, a replica of Henry Ford's first workshop, and the Quadricyle -- the original Ford automobile.
Henry Ford's Quadricycle, Ford Building, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935
Through the 1930s, Ford Motor Company poured resources into exhibitions at regional and world's fairs. Henry Ford believed strongly in the educational value of such displays, and a corporate presence at the fairs benefitted public relations. Ford's popular exhibits and demonstrations -- pictured here in the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition Ford Building -- generated lots of publicity.
1937 Ford Motor Company Advertising Proof Sheet, "The 25 Millionth Ford Has Just Been Built"
On January 18, 1937, the twenty-five millionth Ford automobile rolled off the Rouge Plant assembly line. Ford used the car in a number of ads to promote the quality and value of its automobiles. This ad also shows Henry and Edsel Ford standing between the new Ford and the first Ford built -- Henry's 1896 Quadricycle.
Crating the Quadricycle for Shipment, Ford Exposition, New York World's Fair, 1939
Ford Motor Company poured resources into the 1939-40 New York World's Fair, spending more than $5 million to construct and maintain its elaborate and well-attended exposition space. Ford's massive exhibition building attracted fairgoers with industrial demonstrations and informative displays. Henry Ford even sent some historic items. His first automobile, the Quadricycle, was crated and later displayed in the exhibition building's entrance...
Henry Ford's 1896 Quadricycle on Display at New York World's Fair, 1939-1940
Ford Motor Company poured resources into the 1939-40 New York World's Fair, spending more than $5 million to construct and maintain its elaborate and well-attended exposition space. Ford's massive exhibition building attracted fairgoers with industrial demonstrations and informative displays. In the entrance hall, visitors could view Henry Ford's first automobile, the Quadricycle.
Henry Ford, Clara Ford, and Henry Ford II with 1896 Ford Quadricycle in Greenfield Village, May 1946
This photograph commemorates the 50th anniversary of Henry Ford's first automobile, the Quadricycle, in 1946. Posed in his historical outdoor museum -- Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan -- Henry and his wife Clara sit in the vehicle. They are joined by their grandson Henry Ford II, President of Ford Motor Company.
Poster, "Pictorial History of the Ford Car," 1955
This poster, produced by the Ford Motor Company Information Services Section, shows images of Ford cars from the 1896 Quadricycle to the 1955 Ford Thunderbird. It also has images of the Bagley Avenue Workshop, where Henry Ford built the Quadricycle and an aerial view of the Rouge Plant, where the Thunderbird was produced.
Henry Ford's Quadricycle in the Ford World Theme Center, Guest Reception Area, Ford Pavilion New York World's Fair, 1964-1965
For its pavilion at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, Ford Motor Company brought in Walt Disney to design a "unique and memorable entertainment adventure" that would outshine its competitors. This became the Magic Skyway ride, in which guests sat in Ford convertibles through a Disney-designed show. First, guests encountered a Ford product showroom -- with Henry Ford's Quadricycle as centerpiece.
Advertising Poster, "Ford on the American Road," 1962-1965
The evolution of Ford Motor Company vehicles, through 1965, is illustrated in this colorful advertisement. The line starts with the 1896 Quadricycle and the 1902 "999" race car, and includes four variants of the pivotal Model T. The Lincoln and Mercury marques are each represented with multiple cars. Later important Ford models, like Thunderbird and Mustang, finish the progression.
Lord Mountbatten Viewing the Ford Quadricycle in Henry Ford Museum, April 8, 1972
Lord Mountbatten was great-grandson of Queen Victoria, a British World War II hero and viceroy of India in 1947 during that country's partitioning and independence. In April 1972, he toured Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, accompanied by Henry Ford II and Edison Institute's president, Donald Shelley. Here, Lord Mountbatten examines Henry Ford's first motor vehicle -- the Quadricycle.