The Ford Piquette plant where the Model T was built celebrates its centennial..
Model T plant marks 100 years
Celebration of Ford's pioneering car will feature displays, tour.
By R.J. King / The Detroit News
DETROIT - The birthplace of the Model T, a wood and brick factory that still bears original, hand-painted "Positively No Smoking" signs, is celebrating its 100th anniversary next week with a three-day salute to the car that ushered in the modern automotive industry.
Conceived by auto pioneer Henry Ford the "Tin Lizzie" was designed in a secure room inside the plant on Piquette Avenue, east of Detroit's New Center. The car debuted in 1908 with a price tag of $850, and went on to record more than 15 million in sales. Between 1904 and 1910, more than 12,000 Model Ts were produced at Piquette.
"Henry Ford designed the Model T so that it would be affordable for working families," said Jerald Mitchell, founder of the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex, which oversees the plant. "It is still one of the most recognizable vehicles in the world."
The 66,000-square-foot plant also served as a proving ground for the moving assembly line, which Ford went on to perfect at a factory in Highland Park.
Next week's celebration will include vehicle displays and tours of a new exhibit that details Ford's plan to wall off the northeast corner of the plant's third floor to make the experimental Model T.
Other artifacts, exhibits and memorabilia will be on display as well.
Henry Ford's great-grandson, Edsel B. Ford II, will unveil a state historic site marker.
Funds raised from the $15 public tourswill support renovations to the factory."The Ford Piquette plant is internationally significant," said Arthur Mullen, revitalization manager for MotorCities National Heritage Area in Detroit, a nonprofit group that preserves and promotes the region's automotive heritage. "It was really the catalyst for putting the world on wheels."
Model T Plant
What: Centennial celebration
When: Oct. 1-3
Time: Oct. 1 gala, 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m.; Oct. 2-3, public tours 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $15 for adults
Location: Piquette and Beaubien, Detroit
Information: (313) 867-8960 or tplex.org
When Henry Ford introduced his Model T in 1908, it was an immediate sensation. Before long, it was the largest selling car in the United States, often accounting for over half the sales in the country. This 1909 Ford Model T has an example of a "mother- in-law" seat, a small seat behind the passenger compartment and cut off from it, said (jokingly, of course) to be suitable for traveling with a mother-in- law.
1911 Ford Model T
Richard J. Caloia, a technical specialist in paint technology at Ford Motor Co.'s Wixom Experimental Paint facility, owns this 1923 Ford Model T depot wagon, one of the earliest "woodies."
True mass production was born with the Model T. As volumes rose, costs came down. By 1925, this coupe sold for $525 new, while a two-door runabout went for only $260. In 1909, the first year of Model T production, prices were about double that.
By this 1921 Model T roadster was sold, the price had been cut to a level where any working person could afford it.