HENRY FORD - didn't he invent mass production?

He did, but it wasn't easy. His first creation, in 1896, was a Quadricycle which impressed investors enough to start the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899. The parties soon fell out and Henry returned to his first love, motorsport. His 20hp racing car was very successful and attracted enough interest to start the Henry Ford Company in 1901, but that didn't last long either and was renamed Cadillac. In 1903, the Ford Motor Company was incorporated.

And the Model T?

Not yet: first there was the Model A. The company went straight into profit selling 1,708 in 1903. The B, C, F, K, N and R models all followed. Then on 1 October 1908 the legendary T was launched. However, full mass production - the use of interchangeable parts on a line - was not fully implemented until 1914. The effects were obvious and beneficial. The cost of a Touring Model T in 1911 was $950. By 1925 it was just $290.

So when did they start building cars in Dagenham?

Actually Ford's first UK plant was set up in Trafford Park, Manchester in 1908. It was Ford's first overseas plant. The Dagenham works opened in 1932, building the model Y, the first full-sized saloon to be sold for pounds 100.

So Dagenham just built UK versions of American cars...

Initially yes. But the Model 7Y in 1937, and the Anglia, in 1939, had their bodywork designed here. The basic Popular was made up until 1959 and was billed as the world's cheapest car at pounds 390. The Cortina, in 1962, is credited with creating a new class of car, the missing link between small and large family cars. Unfairly nicknamed the "Dagenham Dustbin", subsequent Cortinas Marks 1 to 5, the Sierra, and now the Mondeo define the "average" British car.

Surely they must have had a go at building a supercar...

Oh yes: the GT40, so called because it was 40 inches high. Ford had come close to buying Ferrari in 1963. When the deal fell through they set-up Ford Advanced Vehicles with the intention of winning Le Mans, which they did from 1966-69.

Henry would have approved. A racer at heart, he'd be pleased to learn that Ford acquired the Stewart Formula One team which won its first Grand Prixthis year. Next year the racers run in Jaguar colours, an outfit now owned by Ford.

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