When you think of the most famous automotive brands in the world, Ford has to be at or near the top of this list. Founded over 100 years ago, Ford is one of the largest automobile manufacturers, and it boasts the best-selling truck in America, the Ford F-150. During this time, it has acquired a reputation for one of the most innovative brands, producing models that shaped the future the automobile while serving the needs of all different types of drivers. Farmers, suburban families, sporty young people, and sophisticated city dwellers all found Fords that fit their lifestyles. This is because Ford has always had a broad focus to its lineup, choosing to build cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs that each had their own benefits. It was this understanding that Ford brought to the marketplace, and which you can find when you visit your local Ford dealership.
Innovation has also always been a calling card for Ford. It came seem like a bit of challenge to come up with the most famous vehicles produced by Ford. Still, here are the five most iconic ones, including a pair of cars that were immortalized in popular songs. What could be more famous than having a Top Ten hit written about your car?
Ford Model T
If you ask most people to mention an old fashioned car, the odds are very strong that they will say the Ford Model T. This is because the Model T became the first mass-produced automobile in history. When he opened up his famous River Rouge plant in Michigan, Henry Ford had already perfected the integrated moving assembly line. This involved having each car moving along a series of stations to be assembled, with a team dedicated to a single element at each point. This not only reduced the time it took to manufacture a car. It also made the entire process more efficient, reducing the cost per vehicle. Henry Ford used his moving assembly line to build Model Ts faster and more effectively than any other vehicle ever built before. From 1908 to 1927, more Ford Model T automobiles were built than any other model. That 20-year run is also a testament to the quality of the Model T.
The speed and efficiency of the manufacturing process also made the Model T affordable. It was Henry Ford’s goal to make a car that the average worker at his River Rouge and Highland Park plants could afford to buy. From 1908 to 1927, more Ford Model T automobiles were built than any other model. While other automakers may have built fancier cars, nothing could match the Model T for affordability and reliability. In fact, the reason you see so many Ford Model Ts at old car shows and rallies is because they were built to last. Here we are almost 100 years after the last Model T rolled off an assembly line, and you can still this product of Henry Ford’s ingenuity rolling down the streets of your town.
Just like the Model T, the first Ford trucks arrived on the scene over 100 years ago. The Ford Model TT was the first factory built flatbed truck available on the market place. This put Ford at the forefront of truck design, a position it has yet to relinquish during the past century.
The big breakthrough for Ford was the introduction of the F-Series in 1948. This took a number of the technologies and innovations Ford used in building trucks for the US Army in World War II and applied them to consumer and commercial purposes. Since then, the Ford F-Series has gone on to be the best selling truck in America for over 50 straight years, making it the greatest winning streak in automotive history. The F-150 itself is also the single best-selling passenger vehicle, a position it has held for a number of years as well.
The F-150 gives drivers an incredible blend of ruggedness, dependability, versatility, and capability. This is because Ford has always offered the F-150 for so many different cab styles, powertrains, drivetrains, and options that drivers have no problem finding one that is built for their needs.
She may not be having Fun, Fun, Fun anymore because Ford took the T-Bird away, but back in the 50s and 60s, the Ford Thunderbird was a leading sports coupe, with an optional convertible model. The 1955 Thunderbird, or T-Bird as Beach Boys fans call it, was the first in the series, and set a benchmark as a sporty, sexy two-door, two-seat convertible with a distinctive removable hard top. It also featured a powerful V8 engine, so its performance could match its looks.
Ford made some changes to the Thunderbird over the years. Changes like safety features, optional four seat models, and more engine options allowed drivers to choose the Thunderbird that was right for them. The result was a car that became a symbol of the Swinging Sixties.
Ford continued to produce new Thunderbird models until it was discontinued in 1997. By that time, many drivers had moved away from two-door sports coupes. An effort was made to bring the T-Bird back in 2002, but that only lasted four years. Nevertheless, the legacy of the Ford Thunderbird continues to this day, and it remains a popular model for car collectors.
Another Ford sports car immortalized in song is the Mustang. When Wilson Pickett sang Mustang Sally, the model was in its infancy. But even so, Mr. Pickett knew a modern classic when he saw one. The 1965 Mustang to proved to be even more popular than its older sibling the Thunderbird, which is probably why it is still being built today.
The Ford Mustang is currently in its sixth generation, with a seventh generation promised for the 2024 model year. The smaller, tighter wheelbase may be one reason why the Mustang proved more popular in the long run than the T-Bird. Whatever the reason, the Mustang created its own segment of vehicles called the pony car. Other automakers tried to build small, sporty coupes and convertibles modeled after the Mustang, but none came close. This is because nothing is quite like the Mustang with its classic lines and powerful engines.
Ford has even extended the Mustang into the future. The Mustang Mach-E SUV is an all-electric model that builds on the promise of speed and acceleration associated with the Mustang. As you would expect, the Mustang Mach-E has incredible acceleration off the line, while at the same time providing all the modern comfort and convenience features today’s motorists demand. This model shows that Ford is invested in the future of the Mustang as a car and a concept.
Billed as the world’s first sport utility vehicle, the Bronco helped move the SUV from the model of choice for hunters and farmers to something regular motorists could enjoy as well. The first Bronco came out in 1966, a year after the Mustang arrived, giving Ford bragging rights to back-to-back automotive rookies of the year. But while the Mustang was built for speed, the Bronco was built for adventure. Drivers who wanted a sturdy vehicle for their commute also got one in the Bronco that was capable of tackling off-road trails with its high ground clearance and four-wheel drivetrain.
The Bronco also positioned Ford well for the SUV revolution that would occur in the late 1980s. The know-how that Ford had developed from building the Bronco, and later the Bronco II, was then applied to other SUVs in the Ford lineup. However, it looked like the Bronco wouldn’t ride off into the sunset with its siblings, as Ford discontinued the model after the 1996 year.
Drivers who thought that 1996 was the end of the line for the Bronco were in for a pleasant surprise. In 2021, Ford brought back the Bronco as an off-road SUV model, with drivers given the option of two-door and four-door designs. The brand also used the opportunity to launch a smaller version called the Bronco Sport. These new Bronco models feature removable side and roof panels, four-wheel drive, and a whole host of off-road items. If you are into some serious off-road driving, then a Ford Bronco is right for you. Ford built on the legacy of this model, and gave drivers something worth waiting almost 20 years for.
Ford’s Legacy of Famous Models
Starting with the Model T, Ford has built a reputation for building some of the most iconic vehicles in American history. When many folks think of having a good time in a sports car, they’re liable to be imaging a Ford Thunderbird or Mustang. If they consider off-roading in a rugged SUV, then the Ford Bronco may be the vehicle they imagine. When it comes to trucks, nothing can match the Ford F-150’s reputation of ruggedness and capability, which has propelled it into being one of the best selling models of any vehicle in automotive history. All of this adds up to why your Ford dealership is proud to offer you vehicles like these built on this reputation.