BRENTWOOD, ESSEX, 9 January, 2003 -- On June 16, 1903, Henry Ford and 11 investors signed the articles of incorporation to establish the Ford Motor Company.
100 years on, plans are being finalised by the company to celebrate this historic milestone.
"Our centennial offers us a unique opportunity to celebrate our past, but it also challenges us to look ahead and build our future," said Bill Ford, chairman and CEO, Ford Motor Company. "As we observe our 100th anniversary, our goal is to have an even greater impact on people's lives in the next 100 years," he added.
Ford's 100th anniversary programmes will be targeted primarily at company employees and Ford enthusiasts.
The centenary celebrations kicked off this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit by looking back on a century of great products – and looking forward with its biggest wave of new product introductions ever. Ford Motor Company and its global brands are introducing more than 15 new products at the 2003 Detroit show.
The product onslaught is unprecedented in the company's history. It is the result of an intensive product-led revitalisation that has mobilised Ford as it enters its second century of innovation.
The major centennial celebration will be centred on Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. On a 152 acre site over the weekend of June 12-16, Ford will host an exposition dedicated to the Ford centenary. THE ROAD IS OURS 100th Anniversary Celebration will feature historic Ford and Ford group vehicles from around the world, as well as present models and concept vehicles from all of Ford's brands. In addition, the event will feature interactive displays, live entertainment and many other great attractions. It is anticipated over 100,000 Ford employees, retirees and Ford enthusiasts will gather for this unique occasion.
Outside of the United States, the largest Ford centennial-themed activity will centre upon the Goodwood Festival of Speed to be held over the weekend of July 11 – 13 in Sussex. Ford is the featured sponsor of this event and for 2003 there will be a spectacular Ford motorsport heritage/centennial presence, including the GT40s, which finished in the memorable 1-2-3 formation at Le Mans in 1966. The Goodwood Festival is one of the largest motorsport events in the UK and attracts over 138,000 visitors from around the world.
Centenary celebrations are also planned at Ford plants in the UK, particularly over the centennial weekend itself. One of the largest will be at the company's technical centre at Dunton in Essex, which will host employees and their families from a number of major south-east England sites.
Other activities planned for this country include a Henry Ford Day (May 11) at the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust museum at Gaydon in Warwickshire and a European employee football tournament at Rush Green, Essex, in May. Teams from Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Turkey and Russia will play over a weekend for the honour of winning the Ford European Centennial Cup.
Already well under way is the Ford-supported 'Model T Challenge' competition for enthusiasts to restore Ford Model Ts. Judging takes place on May 31 at the Haynes Motor Museum in Somerset and while it was initially thought some 10 or 12 entries would be received, the response has greatly exceeded expectations and some 45 entrants, from as far afield as Orkney and Cornwall, have registered. Competitors include a Church of Scotland minister and a father and daughter team.
"The great thing about this competition is that when the judging has been completed, 45 more working Model Ts will be around than was the case in early 2002 when the project was first announced, " explained Daniel Ward, executive director, public affairs for Ford of Britain.
Throughout the year selected advertisements and product brochures will carry the Ford Centenary logo to convey the centennial message to consumers. Dealer point of sale material and the Ford roadshow activity will also carry a centennial theme.
Through a dedicated website, accessed via www.ford.com
, Ford is not only giving enthusiasts the opportunity to keep abreast of global centennial events as they are confirmed but also contribute to Ford's history through a section of the site called "Your Stories".
This interactive section allows site visitors to share their Ford stories, everything from their first Ford product to how the company has impacted their lives.
"Ford has touched the lives of people in virtually every corner of the world, and 'Your Stories' gives people the opportunity to share experiences," said Roger Putnam, chairman, Ford of Britain. "We're encouraging Ford enthusiasts worldwide to share their stories, with the goal of creating a rich historical database that cannot be found in traditional historical material."