In This Section

Model T Legacy

Model T & Society

Industrial Impact

Heritage & Influence

Model T Educational Lesson Plan

Heritage & Influence of the Model T

In the late 1920s sociologists Robert and Helen Lynd studied Muncie, Indiana in an attempt document and analyze life in middle class America. One Muncie resident responded to their questions by exclaiming, "Why on earth do you need to study what's changing in this country? I can tell you what's happening in just four letters: A-U-T-O!" Of course, the A-U-T-O that caused the most changes was the Model T.

People tried to make sense of the Ford's profound effects in different ways. They wrote songs about it: The Little Ford Rambled Right Along; they told jokes about it: "Did you hear about the man who wanted to be buried with his Model T? He's never been in a hole his Ford couldn't pull him out of;" they gave it pet names: Flivver, Tin Lizzie, Lizzie T Ford, Hunka Tin. They modified the car in all manner of ways, so that Ts became race cars, tractors, trucks, mobile power sources, and primitive motor homes. When Model T production finally ceased in 1927, some loyal customers bought several, so as to never have to buy any other car, and newspapers across the country wrote obituaries for a machine.

The emotional attraction of the Model T survives to this day. Members of two international clubs restore, drive, and swap stories about their Fords. A thriving industry exists making reproduction Model T parts. Another group of enthusiasts modifies Model Ts into hot rods, and they support another thriving industry that makes reproduction Model T bodies in fiberglass. Perhaps the continuing appreciation for the Model T's significance was best illustrated in 1999, when a team of international automotive historians and journalists set out in 1999 to select the Car of the Century. The only contest was for second place-the obvious winner was the humble, homely, profoundly important Model T.



Images from the Collections of The Henry Ford
© The Henry Ford, 2007