With proper diet and exercise, Henry Ford might have turned 150 years old this year - on July 30, to be exact. As fate would have it, a cerebral hemorrhage at took the Godfather of Industrial Assemblage at the age of 83. Not enough jicama and amaranth
, apparently. So much for Centenarianism. Nevertheless, the Ford Motor Company is celebrating its founder's sesquicentennial posthumously with a year-long party and web site for at least that long
So, in the spirit of totally vague reasons to plug an America icon and his cars, here are 10 equally obscure facts about Ford and his Motor Company:
1. Ford was thinking "green" long before it became fashionable/important. The Ford Dagenham plant
in the UK was powered in part by burning London's waste to the tune of 2,000 tonnes per week until 1939. More recently/relevantly, Ford added "clean" to the green energy practices at Dagenham with the installation of wind turbines
. Meanwhile, Novera Energy
is continuing Dagenham's rubbish conversion practice with a gasification plant designed to process waste from the nearby Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility. Hollywood location scouts may be eying Dagenham as a possible setting for the next Zombie Apocalypse movie
2. At one quietly forgotten point in Ford's history, car bodies were "stroked" with ostrich feathers
to remove static electricity before painting. Perhaps the practice continues, but nobody's talking about it, because it's hard to be taken seriously when you put "stroked" in your marketing material.
3. While the Ford Model T is remembered a being available in "any color ... so long as it is black
," it was originally available in several colors from 1908 to 1912 - and black was not one of them. It wasn't until introduction of the moving assembly line in 1913 that Ford went with the black-only color option as a cost-saving measure - black has the quickest drying time. Considering color film wasn't available until 1935 (and not widely available until the 1950s), there's a sad lack of evidence to show some earlier Model T's in striking Ferrari Red.
4. In his earlier years, Henry Ford worked for Thomas Edison and the two became lifelong friends - death-long friends too, apparently, as Ford had Edison's last dying breath awkwardly captured in a colloquial bottle, which was actually a test tube
The original Oscar Mayer Wienermobile on display at the Henry Ford Museum.
5. The first Oscar Mayer Wienermobile
was built in 1936 and now sits in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, even though it's not a Ford. The giant wiener and bun on wheels was a complete custom job built by the General Body Company of Chicago, Illinois. Speaking of mobile wieners, former VP candidate, Paul Ryan
, had a job driving a Wienermobile in college.
6. Henry Ford may have been an anti-Semite, or so his financing of the Jew-bashing rag, The Dearborn Independent
, would seem to suggest. The fact that a weekly editorial in the weekly paper carried his byline is also strong evidence, though Ford would eventually renounce the paper and insist that all his editorials were ghostwritten on his behalf without his knowledge, which is entirely plausible, because he was only the publisher. In an unrelated matter, Ford accepted the Grand Cross of the German Eagle in 1938, which happened to be the highest medal that Nazi Germany could bestow on a foreigner.
7. The 2013 Ford Fusion is the only car with the unique distinction
of earning - on the same day (November 29, 2012) - the much-coveted "Green Car of the Year" title from Green Car Journal and a full recall notice for its frolicsome habit of spontaneously bursting in to flames on at least 13 occasions.
8. Ford used to manufacture Model Ts in Japan
but stopped in 1940 due to "political tension" between the US and Japan that didn't ease up until sometime after Fat Man and Little Boy got involved. Facilities reopened in the mid '50s for R&D in partnership with Mazda.
9. Henry Ford did not invent the assembly line, though he certainly revolutionized auto manufacturing by employing a moving conveyor system with fixed work stations for industrial purposes. But Ford acknowledged that he got the idea from the slaughterhouse and meat packing plants
10. Famous Ford vehicles include the original Big Foot
, the first monster truck, which is a delicately modified 1974 F-250; Mel Gibson's first Police Interceptor in Mad Max
was a 1974 Ford Falcon XB sedan, also slightly modified, though by the end (and into the sequel, the Road Warrior), he upgraded to a Pursuit Special, which was a black 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon Coupe
- a two door, because it wasn't about throwing perps into the back seat anymore; the shockingly-yellow hot rod driven by Paul Le Mat as John Milner in American Graffiti was a customized 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe
sacrilegiously sporting a '66 Chevy 327 engine, which he raced against Bob Falfa, played by some nobody named Harrison Ford, who drove a '55 Chevy without any sense of irony. And Steve McQueen drove a 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT in the movie, Bullitt, but that's not really an obscure fact… more like common knowledge. Right?
Mel Gibson drove a 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon Coupe in "the Road Warrior."