1927: Henry Ford Sends Out a Mass Message Ushering in the End of One Automobile Era and the Start of Another

May 26, 1927

Automotive pioneer Henry Ford sent a telegram that went out under the name of his son Edsel to all 10,000 of the Ford automobile dealers. This telegram announced that, after 19 years of manufacturing the influential and popular Model T, the company would replace that model with an “entirely new Ford car.” 

Along with getting this telegram, the dealers also received a letter dated the previous day from the company’s sales manager W.A. Ryan. His letter included both a copy of the official announcement for newspapers about the new automobile and a warning to all the dealers. “UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, are details of the new Ford car to be given out to anyone,” he asserted. “At the proper time you will be fully advised of all our plans for the public showing of this new car.” 

In that announcement, Henry Ford hailed the Model T as “a pioneer” and highlighted its historic significance. “It was the car that ran before there were good roads to run on,” he stated. “It broke down the barriers of distance in rural sections, brought people of these sections closer together and placed education within the reach of everyone.” As Ford also acknowledged, however, the Model T was past its prime and no longer as competitive in terms of such sought-after features as comfort and mechanical performance. 

The day on which Ford dealers received that momentous telegram was also when the fifteen-millionth Model T rolled off the company’s assembly line in Highland Park, Michigan. This milestone was commemorated in a ceremony involving both Henry and Edsel Ford and several other company officials. 

The last Model T would be built sometime around the beginning of June. In December of that year, the Model T’s successor — the Ford Model A — was finally introduced. (The above photo of a 1928 Model A was taken in 2004 on Bowen Island in the Canadian province of British Columbia.)

Photo Credit: Richard Smith (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

Additional information on the Ford Motor Company’s consequential telegram of May 26, 1927, is available at https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2013/12/02/this-day-in-history-1927-ford-reveals-its-model-a-to-an-eager-public and https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/arid-20443090.html

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