Henry Ford's first car
In 1896 Henry Ford was chief engineer of the Edison Illuminating Co. when he built a car called the Quadricycle. This spectacular die-cast model is based directly on Ford's one and only original--and lets you see the actual working mechanism of one of the world’s most historic automobiles. Precision-engineered with operable tiller steering, wheels that turn, pulley, gears and leather belts that move in unison. The buggy-style seat is upholstered in suede leather to replicate the original cloth. Selected components are accented in brass, copper and gold electroplate. Hand-assembled from more than 100 separate components in 1:6 scale.
When he was sixteen years old, Henry Ford left his parents' farm in Springwells-Dearborn and traveled the few miles to Detroit. His Father, while not encouraging the young boy's mechanical curiosity, nevertheless allowed him to develop it, believing that it was perhaps just a passing fancy. Ford worked shortly for the Michigan Car Company (where he performed certain repairs in 10% of the time that the regular employees took), the James Flower and Brothers Machine Shop (while at the same time supplementing his income repairing watches at McGill Jewelry), and at the Detroit Drydock Company, the largest shipbuilding firm in the city.
Ford then began to work for Westinghouse Engine Company, setting up and repairing steam traction engines used by the farmers. He attended a business college in Detroit and worked as an engine repairman at the Eagle Iron Works. Ford's father gave Henry a heavily timbered tract of land with the hope that his son--who was soon to marry Clara Jane Bryant--would settle down to farming. While Henry Ford made a good attempt at timbering, the lure of mechanics was too strong and he spent much of his time in the workshop he had built.
In 1891, Henry Ford announced to his wife that he was convinced that an engine-powered road vehicle was possible and that they were moving to Detroit so that Ford could get the electrical experience he knew was necessary. On Christmas Eve 1893, Henry (and Clara) tested his first gasoline engine at the couple's kitchen sink. By June of 1896, Ford had completed his first car, the Quadricycle, and on June 4th, 1896, he took a pre-dawn trip around the Edison Illuminating Company's plant. The car had a two-cylinder engine that displaced 59 cubic inches; it was extremely light (weighing 500 pounds without fuel); and was framed with four two-by-two rails. It had bicycle wheels and a bicycle seat (soon to be replaced by a buggy seat), tiller steering and differential gears mounted outside the frame.
The historic import of this first journey is immeasurable. For while Ford was not the inventor of the automobile, he was the impetus to the automobile age, refining mass-production so that automobiles would become a standard commodity for the common man.
Presented by Henry Ford Museum.