I wonder whether Henry ever considered adding factory fitted front brakes and a 2 speed Ruxstell as standard in 1927 to keep the T in production for a bit longer? Was it not the 2 speed transmission and poor brakes that was hurting sales?
I think it was the style and old system. Plus Edsel lobbied heavily. The cars also had to go faster.
A factory fitted version of the era available "Giant Power Head" or a OHV would have helped with speed. Ford sort of did that with Model As by having an optional 5.5 "police head" available.
The AR did have some of the T features. We have to face the fact that the T was obsolete and Ford would probably been better off if the model A had come out in 23 or 4. KGB
Keith, If the Model "A" had come out in '23 does that mean there would be no '23 "T-Buckets"?
I might be wrong but was not 1923 the high point of Model T sales?? 2,201,188 in 23 2,083,481 in 24 2,103,541 in 1925,1,752,075 in 1926!! If Henry would have stopped in 1923 who would have built 8 million more Model T's that people wanted?? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Constantine,On pages 146-147 of Tin Lizzie by Stern it tells of what it took to get 40 HP from a engine that looked like a T engine! You can't simply bolt on a head and get the useable HP the 1/4" more stroke provided! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
A very simple answer. Chevrolet and Plymouth. Ford no longer had a monopoly in the low price market, and the competition had more features. You will notice the great changes which took place during the 1930's. The speed, the style, the comfort, the brakes all improved rapidly during that decade.
Norman has it right. Chevrolet was eating Ford up in sales. A Chevrolet had 3 speed transmission, distributor, the here unpopular water pump, oil pump, a real steering gear, overhead valves and so much more. Both Ford and Chevrolet would go to 4 wheel brakes for 1928.
The reason was that the Chevrolet, the Star, The Willys, and others were more modern and "better" automobiles. The Model T was too out-of-date. The resulting Model A was a better auto than the competition autos for 1928.
It was the natural progression of things. IMHO the bigger item is how the Model T remained the Model T as long as it did. Henry (the other one) hung on to the name because it was known and it sold. But I believe there were two point at which it would have been otherwise appropriate to change the name, first with the introduction of the 1917 cars and later with the introduction of the 1926 cars.
Just my $0.02 worth.
Bud is right...'23 was the high point for Model T sales, and sales declined continuously after that.
Ford should have designed and brought out the Model A for the '26 Model year. If you compare the '28 Model A and the '26 Chevrolet, you will see that they are very similar. Ford blew it by not bringing out a Model A type car for the '26 Model year.
Looking back with hindsight we can see this easily. Instead, Ford shut down Model T manufacturing in late May, 1927 to re-tool for the Model A, & production didn't restart until the Fall of 1927. In the meantime all those people were out of work, and there was no Unemployment Compensation then.
All in all, this was a big management mistake by Henry Ford due to his stubbornness.
Yes,There was great change's in the early thirty's but the question i asked was who in 1923?? I do not think Plymouth was there in 1923 and Chevrolet in 1923 was trying to build a air cooled car in 1923! Sales numbers would tell much as who could have built and sold the extra 2,000 000 cars a year?? In 1927 when Ford dealers had little to sell Chevrolet out sold Ford.I also wonder about the term "better cars" ?? I think history tell's about the "better Cars" you still see so many of on the road these days!! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
What Keith says is very true, but OTOH, the free publicity Ford got for this change-over probably fueled Model A sales. Would the model A have been as popular if their had been a "smooth" transition from T to A?
Ford was always hesitant to make major changes. He was also the last of the major auto makers to change the brakes from mechanical to hydraulic. I once had a 29 Crysler which had hydraulic brakes with mechanical override. When the pedal went past a certain point the mechanical brakes would come on. That was a safety feature which Henry could have make on the Ford if he was unsure of the hydraulic brakes. The Graham and the Franklin also had hydraulic brakes at an early date.
Ford was also among the last to convert from L head to Overhead valves.
Anyway, all these things make for interesting conversation.
Norm - Yes, Ford could have made hydraulic brakes with a mechanical override, but the reasons he didn't were because he was cheap and also because he was (very) stubborn!
David - Good point about the free publicity Ford got from the mystery and pent up demand for the Model A.
On the other hand, people were becoming so tired of the T's when the competition had so much more to offer, even if Ford had continued production until the Model A was introduced they would still have received lots of free publicity.
What if Ford had kept on selling Model T's into the 30's?? There was still lot's of country with bad or no roads and no power! If i remember right VW did quite well selling sub standard cars at a cheap price for a long time!!!!!!!!!!!! When you could still buy a non starter T at the very last did everyone want newer faster more expensive or is all this farts in the wind?? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
What if Ford had just bought Dodge before Chrysler bought the company in 1928.
The Dodge brothers and Ford did have a falling out,.... but they died and the Dodge car company was sold to Dillon, Read, and CO, Investment Bankers in 1925.
Henry should have faced facts, just go ahead and pay the Investment Bankers to obtain the Dodge car and factory in '25 as the next step of sales growth.
Then Ford would have the Model T (low cost), the Dodge car, (mid range) and the Lincoln (high price).
The T would maybe still be with us!
Dan,I think that's the smartest what if i have heard so far!! If the Dodge Brothers were still alive,Henry might have bought it for spite?? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
" .... Ford should have designed and brought out the Model A for the '26 Model year. ...."
With the exception of the TT trucks, they did. It was called The Improved Car.
From Wikipedia. I don't know how accurate the numbers are, but they show a general look at the U.S. market and trend. I've always thought Ford continued to be so successful with a car that became more and more outdated (compared with peers) every year. First, because the price came down year by year. As the T slipped behind technology wise, the lower price year by year kept sales up. N people couldn't afford not to buy it. Second, the auto market was still growing. There were still first time car buyers entering the market every year, many who could afford a T, but maybe not a higher priced one.
In my opinion, the other major factor was the quality of the T. Due to early design, materials and production techniques, the T began as a quality car for the money.
It looks to me as though Ford was not in "dire straights" in 1926, just acknowledged it was time for a change. Who knows, had the T survived into the early thirties, maybe the Great Depression would have propped it up (cheap) a few more years?
MR Burger,With exception of the name Ford what things do the 1926 [improved car] and the Model A share?? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Tire size same. A few bolts and nuts are interchangeable.
Thanks Norman!! After MR Burgers post i was hoping he would explain?? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Bud, Ken ... styling. High mounted headlights, nickel plating, straight cowl,
rounded fenders ....
To my eye, they look more like A's than the black or brass T's. Or perhaps
more accurately put, the era of open-ended model runs such as the brass or
black cars was fast becoming obsolete and soon the industry would move to
the yearly model changes. The Improved Car was the first step Ford took toward
making big changes on a yearly basis to make each year's design different than
previous years. And while it would take the Improved Car and two styling cycles
of the A before it went year-to-year, from a styling perspective, the Improved Car
design was a rapid step towards the Model A and away from the previous years.
I agree Ford should have got the Model A out for 1926 [ The Improved T was just an out dated chassis with up dated sheet metal] & then moved on to get the V8 for 1930. There were still good sales for '30 until the Depression really hit late in '30.
Henry lost a ton of money & endangered the company getting an all new Model A out late & later releasing a new design V8 with abysmal sales of 1932.
I recall reading some time back that the Model A was supposed to be a V-8, but the bugs were too many to work out in the time available, so the 4 cylinder A was born--more as a "stop-gap" measure.
Also, the cowl tank on the '26 & '27 did wonders for the gravity feed fuel system; never anymore need to back up hills. Also, larger brake drum in planetary transmission, and larger rear wheel brake drums and lined brake shoes that would actually lock up the rear wheels, therefore, what previously was called an "emergency brake" and should have been called a parking brake actually was considerably more like an "emergency brake"! Many other improvements not readily obvious,....like the car being slightly lowered via rear spring, and flatter front spring and redesigned spindles.
the all steel body was a huge step forward on the improved car. I wonder why he didn't continue that with a Model A?
Don't agree that the Model A was needed earlier. The improved car should have been more improved! Front brakes, Ruxstell and hi-comp head should have been added as standard. Would such a T not been able to take on a Chev or Dodge?
Jim, I thought most model A's are all steel except for upholstery tack strips. Maybe you are thinking of the "coach built" bodied A's like Briggs and Murray. They were built like GM Fisher bodies, all structural wood. Seems strange now that you had to pay more for a step backward in technology. Speaking of which, the model T was technically obsolete by the early twenties. They just continued to sell because they were so cheap. My thoughts. Opinions vary.
He did. The only body with any wood to speak of in Model A was the four door sedans and later the station wagons through '48.
Ken in Texas
I see what you mean, but it still seems like there is a lot of wood in the Model As compared to the 1926-27 Tudor. http://www.fordwood.com/
Regarding the Ford decision to carry on with the Model T when some would argue that a whole new design was long overdue:
Designs of any sort (cars, airplanes, TV's, etc) can be thought of as either "Evolutionary" or "Revolutionary". Evolutionary designs are simply small improvements over the previous offering, whereas Revolutionary designs come from beginning with a clean sheet of paper.
The Model T was evolutionary from day one. Nothing really new; just a very smart collection of proven technologies. The beauty of an evolutionary design is that each new offering enjoys the high confidence of no design or manufacturing blunders. Both from a design and a financial standpoint the company is quite certain that their product will work, it will sell, and it will make money. The disadvantage of an evolutionary design is that each improvement is constrained by the basic design concept. That is, each new offering is carrying some baggage from its predecessors.
Evolutionary companies are vulnerable to unexpected innovative offerings by a competitor. Suddenly the evolutionary company is caught flat footed and unable to catch up quickly. Their technical staff may be experts in making small changes to the existing design, but they aren't good at clean sheet designs.
Revolutionary companies don't carry much baggage. But they are always at risk of a technical blunder, a failure to accurately predict costs, or lack of public acceptance. Dodge/Chrysler has long been more of a revolutionary company, and how well have they done financially ? Think Chrysler Airflow. Then again, think Dodge Caravan. The minivan was a revolutionary design as well and it brought Chrysler back from the brink of bankruptcy.
I can sympathize with Ford management in the mid-20's. Mr. Ford probably knew full well that his staff wasn't well placed to work from a clean sheet of paper. Ford himself wasn't a revolutionary. History tells us that producing the new Model A was a long and arduous process. That said, I do believe that the Model A was a stellar product, especially coming from such a strong evolutionary company.
Would a careful study of Ford in the 1920's show that Mr. Ford was grooming his technical staff to become competent to develop a revolutionary design ? As good as the Model A was, I suspect that was the case. It just took a long time to bring the staff up to speed before they dared to make the leap.
I agree with most of your post, except I would say the 1909-1912 Model T was "revolutionary." With removable head, one sump/compartment for engine and transmission, and self contained electric system (mag), Ford put out a product like no other. A few car makers (Panhard, Renault?) had monobloc engines, however I don't know of any that had a removable head, or a combined engine/transmission compartment sharing one fluid. While not new to the T, Ford also used their relatively new planetary gear steering (first seen and patented on models K and NRS) and three point drive train (patented by Ford and first used with the Model B).
Combined with nimble three point springs front and back, I can't think of another car with similar features. Add to this the relatively low price and good horse-power to weight ratio and I think the T was a revolutionary car. I like your idea that products are either "revolutionary " or "evolutionary." I hadn't thought of it that way before,
Thank you for setting me straight on the Model T, Rob. Your knowledge of early autos (Fords and others) is amazing.
I would still argue, though, that the T became an evolutionary product over the years and that company culture made the transition to the Model A all the more difficult.
Well said Rob!! Bud,
Ford had monumental casting problems with the V8 block. It was only just barely ready for the 1932 model year. The T was simply not able to cruise at reasonable highway speeds by the late 1920s. It lacked shock absorbers, four-wheel brakes, a modern manual transmission, and a modern ignition system. By the end of 1927 it had had it's day.
The story is told that Henry took one of the prototype A's out for a test drive, and over some rough roads it bounced around too much. He came back and said, "Put Shock Absorbers on". And that's reportedly why the A had shocks.
I would agree the cruising speed was low for some roads of the late 20's But what is a modern transmission and modern ignition?? If the Model T sold 1.75 million in 1926 how many could have been sold in 1927 if they had been built?? Is there a source for the rough ride story? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
$ $ $. That's why it lasted so long and was the reason it was built in the first place. It was the cheapest car out there even when sales were declining. The money available in the roaring 20's got people to go for faster, more comfortable and more stylish vehicles. The fact that it didn't change much was no help either.
Maybe I misunderstood. Yes, the T definitely was "evolutionary" during it's tenure, almost "stationary" in terms of advancements.
I had not thought of cars or products in those terms (revolutionary vs. evolutionary) but will in the future. A good way to organize things in my mind.
Ken, I read about the shocks about 40 years ago, no idea now what it was in.