Why Did Henry Ford Invent the Automobile?

Ford Motor Company

Henry Ford founded the Detroit, Michigan-based Ford Motor Company in 1901. He is credited today as the father of the assembly line, which mass-produced the Ford Model T car. The Model T gave Americans a quality vehicle at an affordable price. As the son of a farmer, he had no love for farming, but grew up with a farmer's egalitarian sense and wanted to contribute to the cause of the working man.

Early Influences

Henry Ford's birthplace in Greenfield Township, Dearborn, Mich.

Ford's mechanical talent was developed as a boy when he received a pocket watch from his father. He learned its mechanics by dismantling and reassembling it many times.

Hated Farming

Nineteenth century farming was grueling work and heavily influenced Henry Ford's outlook on life.

Ford's father expected him to take over the family farm, but Ford hated the hard work and few rewards of farming, and refused.


Ford began building tractors to ease the burden of farmers.

Ford wanted the working man to avoid the grinding life of hard labor by developing a means for a more productive, yet easier, life.

Rejected Limits

Through his period of developing a self-propelled vehicle, he routinely rejected limits imposed on him by investors, and followed his vision to build an affordable and reliable automobile.

Model T

The 1908 Ford Model T changed the way Americans lived.

The introduction of the Model T in 1908 accomplished his dream of a car that could be adapted to any environment, including conversion to farming use.

Global Vision

Violent labor strikes in 1937 at Ford assembly plants changed his political views about labor.

While Ford's politics changed dramatically over the years, due in part to the violent Ford plant labor strikes of the late 1930s, his basic philosophy of equal opportunities for the common man remained unchanged.


About the Author

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.

Photo Credits

  • Ford Motor Company