Jeremy Langley and I have been having a Facebook discussion of model years. I've always followed Bruce McCalley's practice of referring to summer/fall changes in the Model T as model years. He contends that Henry Ford opposed the concept of model years and didn't consider those (usually) yearly changes as such.
I offered a few examples of Bruce's references to model years like this.
He posted this article attributing annual changes to General Motors in the twenties.
I wonder if anybody here can cite period documentation of Ford actually referring to its approximately annual changes as model years, especially between 1911 and 1923.
Well Ford did advertise the 'new' model cars in the prior year!
If he had a wife ...
Rumor has it he also had a mistress named Evangeline.
Didn't FMC had a fiscal year starting August 1 so thats why the model year shifted there.
The above only says NEW 1914 PRICES, nothing about new models. At least we know that on Aug 1, 1913 there was going to be a price change.
I've been busy at work etc., but I too believe Ford didn't care about model years the way we do today. For example the Model N Runabout was shown at the New York exhibit in Jan 1906 about six months before it started shipping. They started shipping the Model N Runabout in Jul 1906. They continued with minor changes to the body and chassis. The final large shipments were made in Sep 1908 and a few straglers were assembled and shipped in Nov 1908 (ref Trent's Early Ford database. They were all Model N Fords and the ones sold in 1907 & 1908 were identical except for the serial numbers. Again the 1906 ones were very close and from a photo very few people can tell the difference unless the 1906 has the 28 x 2 1/2 double tube tire wheels which have lots of bolts through the felloe (Rob Heyen's Model N # 3 had those wheels visible in the mid 1920s photo of his car. But the 28 x 3 clinchers were also available in 1906.)
I believe some other early car makers also ran the same model for multiple years with minimum changes.
Ford made running changes and was selling more cars than he could produce.
Today we like to line them up by model years. We are used to that. I don't think Bruce was wrong - I believe he was using what people were expecting. What "model year" is the car? And he usually used the term "typical" for a given model year.
There is more to add to this, on both sides of the scale, but I don't believe Henry cared that much about it until GM started capturing a lot of the sales. And even then -- the 1928-1928 Model As and the 1930-1931 Model A's are virtual the same to many of us.
The Price List of Parts -- may have used that distinction -- I'm not sure about that one from memory.
It will be good to see who has documentation and recommendations for where to find additional items to add more questions or clarity to this subject.
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"the 1928-1928 Model As and the 1930-1931 Model A's are virtual the same to many of us."
30-31 have the fwoop on the cowl and the larger hub caps.
Sorry. I'm speaking out of turn again.
N Ford? Mmmm. :-) I'm still drooling over that N talk...
Well, a good check what Ford thought would be the parts lists. And model year typical parts like for example a car with a black radiator shroud was produced beginning in August 1916, but the parts lists always refers to the low radiator shroud as fitting 1917 model year cars and up.
So yes, Ford was thinking in model years from early on, but he still felt free to make updates during production.
Sorry for the confusion. I was trying to say that the 1928-1929 Model A Fords are very similar to one another. And in a similar manner the 1930-31 Model A Fords were also very similar to one another. You are correct that from photos etc. it is very easy to see the difference between the 1928-1929 Ford cars and the 1930-31 Ford cars.
And of course someone that studies the 1928-1931 Fords will see several minor differences in a photo and even more when they are able to look at the car in person. But like the T many of the changes to the Model A Fords were "running changes"
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In addition, they had a lot of trouble with the '13 touring bodies, and they were anxious to introduce a better body.