The marque: Trusted Blue Oval badge is the world's most familiar nameplate.

The history: Henry Ford made several attempts to start his car company. His final effort, the Ford Motor Company, started in 1903 and by 1908 he had the Model T in production. That became the car that defined the mass-production age. Ford's assembly lines in Detroit, Trafford Park in Manchester and other factories across the world churned out 15 million Tin Lizzies by end of production in 1927.

US and European Fords diverged in the 1930s. The British arm became largely autonomous until Ford of Europe was formed (under full US ownership, still mainly by the Ford family) in the late 1960s. The 1968 Escort was the first Ford of Europe car, made here and in Germany.

Product planning, cost analysis and market research were always Ford's strengths, and 1962's Cortina showed these skills to perfection. But by the early 1990s, the landscape was changing, and the cost accountants' power grew enough to make the 1991 Escort a travesty of cheapskate engineering. Ford realised its mistake and put the engineers back in control for the Mondeo.

The balance sheet has always been turbulent, and factory closures mean Ford builds no cars in the UK. The Dagenham factory makes diesel engines and the Halewood one Jaguar X-typesars. It also no longer makes a big European car, leaving that to its Jaguar and Volvo brands. Ford, the most mainstream brand of all, is struggling in a niche-laden market.

Defining model: Cortina, conventionally but cleverly engineered, marketed to perfection, the epitome of auto-universality.

They say: Everything we do is driven by you.

We say: As long as it does not lose us more money.

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