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Ford In NZ

John Stokes

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Henry Ford's first co was founded with capital from a family friend, William Maybury. But his backers wanted to build heavy delivery vans, while Ford wanted to develop his lightweight quadricycle, so that co folded.

Ford went on to build racing cars - huge vehicles built on double steel rails. The publicity from winning races attracted investors to support the second Ford co. But Ford wanted to build another racer, so there was no commercial product. Investors brought in Henry Leland; Ford walked out, with an agreement that he kept rights to his name. This second co was then renamed Cadillac, whose first car was built according to Ford's design.

A third co, Ford and Malcolmson incorp 1902. But when needed more backers, co was renamed Ford Motor Co, and its first product was called a Fordmobile. It was an assembly of parts made by others. CR Wilson Carriage Co supplied wooden bodies for $52 each, and upholstered seats for $16. Dodge Bros supplied chassis, engine, transmission and axles, but they took shares in the co in lieu of payment.

The first Model A Fordmobile sold for $750. It had no roof or windsceen, but it did have an 8hp, 2 cyl water-cooled engine. It was high and very light, hence a top speed of 30mph.

By the end of March 1904, Ford had sold 658 Fordmobiles, and the shareholders shared dividends of nearly $100,000.

1908 Ford introduced Model T. Wooden body on a wooden frame, wooden spoked wheels, and wide running boards to carry luggage, tools and extra benzene. Windscreen was an extra cost option. Engine was revolutionary - for first time with one crankcase and block and with one detachable head. Transmission simplified by being bolted directly to the back of motor. Just one transverse leaf spring on each axle, and with 3 point suspension that isolated the body from whatever was happening at ground level.

For US-made cars, Ford insisted that there be no left side front door, so that driver forced to exit on the footpath side of road. But Ford Canada was building for both RHD and LHD markets, so added a door.

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